Putin wants to involve Belarus in nuclear drills

During his visit to Belarus, Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to discuss the potential participation of the Belarusian military in Russia's non-strategic nuclear drills, the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on May 24.

Putin arrived in Belarus on May 23 for a two-day visit, meeting Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. It comes as the latest in Putin's recent foreign engagements, which included a visit to China last week.

Upon his arrival to Minsk, Putin said that he plans to discuss security issues with Lukashenko, as well as the Belarusian participation in the nuclear drills.

Belarus has been a key ally to Moscow and supported Russian aggression against Ukraine, though it has not committed its own forces directly to hostilities. The country is also reportedly hosting Russian tactical nuclear arms on its territory.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced earlier in May it aims to practice the usage of tactical nuclear weapons in response to purported and unspecified "provocative statements" from the West.

"We will talk about the second phase of the exercises. This will concern a direct participation of our Belarusian friends and colleagues from the military sphere in these events," Putin said in Minsk.

Belarus has also recently tested its nuclear readiness. The country's Defense Ministry announced on May 7 a snap inspection of military units capable of using tactical nuclear arms, including Iskander missile systems. Belarus does not possess its own nuclear weaponry.

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