The White House on Thursday condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, calling the move “irresponsible.”
Putin on Saturday revealed Russia will place the nuclear weapons in the allied country in retaliation for the U.K.’s decision to provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium. Russia has falsely claimed these rounds have nuclear components.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged the reports of Putin’s decision during Thursday’s press briefing and said President Biden will “continue to monitor, certainly, the implications here.”
“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own nuclear posture,” Jean-Pierre said, adding there is no indication Russia is prepared to use nuclear weapons.
“This is yet another example of [Putin] making irresponsible and provocative choices,” she said. “We remain committed to a collective defense of the NATO alliance. And I’ll just leave it there.”
Putin told Russian state media Saturday that construction of storage facilities for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus will be completed by the beginning of July. The Russia-allied nation borders Ukraine and three NATO countries — Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Putin claimed Russia wouldn’t be violating the international agreement on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons with the construction because he said the U.S. frequently deploys its nukes in NATO countries.
Russia stationed troops in Belarus along the border with Ukraine a year ago under the guise of routine military exercises before invading in February 2022.
Moscow and Minsk signed a formal agreement to move the nukes to Belarusian territory Thursday.
“The collective West is essentially waging an undeclared war against our countries,” Putin’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said at a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart in Minsk, per Reuters.
Shoigu accused the West of doing all it can “to prolong and escalate the armed conflict in Ukraine.”
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said the tactical nuclear weapons were already en route to his country after he and Putin signed the order, though the Kremlin has not confirmed the report.
“The movement of the nuclear weapons has already begun,” Lukashenko told reporters, according to Reuters. Asked if the weapons were already in Belarus, he said, “Possibly. When I get back, I will check.”
Putin has on numerous occasions threatened to use nuclear weapons as an intimidation tactic against western adversaries, particularly NATO-allied countries who have provided monetary and tactical support to Ukraine.
In April, Putin said he would be suspending his nation’s participation in a nuclear arms treaty, threatening to resume testing of nuclear weapons.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson, the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.