Belarus leader says Russian nuclear weapons shipments are completed, raising concern in the region

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TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — The president of Belarus said Monday that Russia has completed its shipments of tactical nuclear weapons to his country, an initiative that raised strong concerns in neighboring Poland and elsewhere in the region.

President Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting of a Moscow-led economic bloc in St. Petersburg that the shipments were completed in October, but he did not give details of how many weapons were sent or where they have been deployed.

Tactical nuclear weapons, which are intended for use on the battlefield, have a short range and a low yield compared with much more powerful nuclear warheads fitted to long-range missiles. Russia said it would maintain control over those it sends to Belarus.

Lukashenko has said that hosting Russian nuclear weapons in his country is meant to deter aggression by Poland, a NATO member. Poland is offering neighbor Ukraine military, humanitarian and political backing in its struggle against Russia’s invasion and is taking part in international sanctions on Russia and Belarus.

Russian troops based in Belarus invaded Ukraine from the north in the war's opening days, but Belarusian forces are not known to have participated,