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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin exchange documents during a meeting following a session of the Council of Defense Ministers of the Treaty Organization of Collective Security (CTSO) in Minsk, Belarus, on May 25. (Photo: Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/AP)

Moscow and Minsk have signed an agreement on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, according to statements by the two countries’ defense ministries.

During a bilateral meeting in the Belarusian capital, Russian and Belarusian Defense Ministers Sergei Shoigu and Viktor Khrenin signed documents outlining the procedure for storing Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons in a specialized facility in the northern neighbor from Ukraine, Belarus.

Shoigu noted that the Belarusian side received the Iskander-M tactical-operational missile system, capable of using not only conventional but also nuclear missiles.

“Part of the Belarusian aviation has been converted for the possible use of nuclear weapons. The army has received appropriate training,” Shoigu added.

“The Republic of Belarus is interested in the further development of allied strategic relations with the Russian Federation in the military sphere,” Khrenin told Shoigu, as quoted by the Belarusian press service.

some background: Belarus has been one of Russia’s staunchest allies since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last year.

Although President Alexander Lukashenko has said his country will “under no circumstances” send troops to Ukraine unless it is attacked, Belarus has shown willingness to provide other means of support.

Lukashenko raised the possibility of Russia placing strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus during a national address in March, while baselessly accusing Western countries of “preparing to invade” and “destroy” Belarus.

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya told CNN at the time of the initial talks that Russia’s move to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to its neighbor “aims to subjugate Belarus.”