UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia and the United States clashed at the United Nations on Friday over Moscow’s plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which neighboring Ukraine denounced as a desperate attempt by the Kremlin to avoid military defeat and “threaten the world with a nuclear apocalypse.” ”
China, without naming Russia, made clear its opposition to the planned deployment.
Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya convened the UN Security Council meeting following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement on March 25 that his country plans to deploy comparatively long-range tactical nuclear weapons. short and underperforming in Belarus.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko upped the ante just before the council meeting, saying that Russia could also deploy strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus, which Russian forces have used as a staging ground for war in Ukraine.
Kyslytsya said it took Putin just four days to break a promise he made to Chinese President Xi Jinping in a joint statement at their recent meeting in Moscow. She stated that all nuclear states must refrain from deploying nuclear weapons outside their countries and withdraw those deployed abroad.
The same point was emphasized by the US and Chinese deputy ambassadors to the UN, among others.
“We call for the abolition of nuclear arms sharing agreements and advocate for all nuclear weapon states not to deploy nuclear weapons abroad and for the withdrawal of nuclear weapons deployed abroad,” said Geng Shuang of China. .
Calling nuclear weapons “the sword of Damocles that hangs over our heads,” Geng reiterated that China opposes armed attacks on nuclear power plants and the threat or use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. He said that “nuclear proliferation must be prevented and the nuclear crisis avoided.”
Beijing claims to be neutral in the war, but has also stressed its “unlimited friendship” with Russia. He has refused to criticize the Moscow invasion and, late last month, published a peace plan calling for a ceasefire and talks between Ukraine and Russia.
Kyslytsya welcomed Beijing’s position, telling the council: “To the credit of the Chinese side, the Chinese side reminded Moscow in a very sensible way that nuclear war cannot be won or fought, and must be prevented.” nuclear proliferation”.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said that Moscow is not transferring nuclear weapons but “operational tactical missile complexes”, which will be under Russian control. He insisted that this did not violate Moscow’s international obligations.
Nebenzia accused the United States of destroying key arms control agreements and reiterated Putin’s objection to tactical nuclear weapons that the United States has deployed in other NATO countries, saying it violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a cornerstone of the global disarmament.
Belarus’s ambassador to the UN Valentin Rybakov said the planned deployment of tactical nuclear weapons was a reaction to “the challenges and risks to national security” facing his country, citing NATO neighbors increasing their military capacity. and Western sanctions. He also criticized the US nuclear exchange with its allies.
US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood countered that the issue of the intra-NATO nuclear exchange was discussed during the NPT negotiations, and for almost four decades Washington heard nothing about it from Russia until after its takeover of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine in 2014.
Wood stressed that any accusations that the United States is not fully complying with the non-proliferation treaty “are patently false.”
He accused Russia of “trying to manipulate the specter of nuclear conflict” to help win the war in Ukraine.
“No other country is inflicting so much damage on arms control or seeking to undermine strategic stability in Europe,” Wood said. “No other country has raised the possibility of possible nuclear use in connection with the war in Ukraine. … No country is threatening Russia or threatening President Putin.”