US and Russia Raising Nuclear Risks Over Ukraine

June 7th, 2023 - by Dave DeCamp/

Lavrov Says Russia Must Keep in Mind
That F-16s Can Carry Nuclear Weapons
Dave DeCamp/

(June 6, 2023) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that Moscow must keep in mind that American-made F-16 fighter jets are capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The Russian diplomat made the comments when warning how the US and NATO are escalating their role in the conflict in Ukraine. President Biden recently signed off on European countries delivering US-made F-16s to Ukraine, although it’s not yet clear how many Kyiv will receive or when they will be delivered.

“Anything can be expected from the leaders of the US and other Western countries. They are already proving this when, following advanced long-range weapons and tanks, they are now seriously preparing F-16s,” Lavrov said during a visit to a Russian military base in Tajikistan.

“We must keep in mind that one of the modifications of the F-16 has the capability to deliver nuclear weapons,” Lavrov added.

F-16s are capable of carrying B61 nuclear gravity bombs, which the US stores in several European countries. Under NATO’s nuclear sharing program, there are US B61 nuclear bombs deployed in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was sending nuclear weapons to Belarus, he compared the move to NATO’s nuclear sharing program. He also said the deployment was in response to the UK providing Ukraine with depleted uranium ammunition.

Putin Says Russia Will Deploy
Nuclear Weapons to Belarus
Dave DeCamp /

(March 26, 2023) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that Moscow will deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus at the request of Minsk.

Announcing the decision, Putin compared the move to NATO’s nuclear sharing program, under which there are US nuclear weapons deployed to the territory of five allied countries: Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

“There is nothing unusual here either. Firstly, the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries,” Putin said. The Russian leader insisted the deployment wouldn’t violate Moscow’s non-proliferation commitments.

Putin also said the decision was related to the UK supplying Ukraine with depleted uranium rounds for its British-made Challenger 2 tanks. Depleted uranium ammunition is radioactive and is linked to cancer and birth defects, especially in Iraq, where US forces used an enormous number of the controversial munitions.

In response to the announcement, the US said it hasn’t seen any indication that Russia is planning to use nuclear weapons. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also said the US hasn’t seen Russia move any nuclear weapons around yet.

Putin said that the plan is for Russia to build a facility in Belarus to store the nuclear weapons, which will be completed by July 1. Russia has previously provided Belarus with nuclear-capable Iskander missiles and is helping upgrade the country’s warplanes so they can carry nuclear warheads.

“We have already helped our Belarusian colleagues to reequip their planes. Ten planes are ready to apply this type of weapons. We have handed over to Belarus our well-known and very effective Iskander system that can carry [nuclear weapons],” Putin said.

US and NATO officials have said they don’t see a reason to adjust their own nuclear posture at this point. But one way NATO could respond to the deployment is by placing nuclear weapons in countries that are closer to Russia.

The US has not deployed nuclear weapons to countries east of Germany that joined NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, but some eastern European countries are willing to host nukes, including Poland. Finnish officials have also not ruled out the idea of hosting nuclear weapons, and Finland is poised to join NATO soon.

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