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Belarus votes to revoke non-nuclear status amid Russian Ukraine invasion

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A major development took place this morning as Russia’s No. 1 ally carried out a vote that could see Putin’s nuclear weapons stockpile drastically increase.

A major development took place this morning as Russia’s No. 1 ally carried out a vote that could see Putin’s nuclear weapons stockpile drastically increase.

Belarus this morning held a referendum that approved a new constitution — one that does away with its non-nuclear stance.

The news, first reported by Russian news agencies, could see Russian nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union.

More than 60 per cent of those who voted in Belarus wanted the country to renounce its non-nuclear status.

It comes as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenk warns that the west is “pushing Russia into World War Three”.

Mr Lukashenko insisted sanctions being handed down by countries including the UK and US are propelling Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, The Sun reports.

“Now there is a lot of talk against the banking sector, gas, oil, SWIFT,” he said.

“It’s worse than war. This is pushing Russia into a Third World War.

“We need to be restrained here so as not to get into trouble. Because nuclear war is the end of everything.”

Earlier, Mr Lukashenko had warned the war in Ukraine will “become a meat grinder” if it continues.

“The conflict in Ukraine is the thin edge of the wedge. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about. If it continues like this, the worst will happen,” he said.

“He (Zelensky) will not be hidden in any American or some other bunker. That’s why the war should be ended today.

“I wouldn’t even call it the war. This is a conflict. The war will last for one-two days, but there will be a meat grinder in three days.”

It comes as peace talks are due to be held between Ukraine and Russia, despite Mr Putin putting his nuclear forces on high alert.

Diplomats from Kyiv and Moscow are set to meet “without preconditions” near the Prypyat River on the Belarusian border as Mr Putin’s invasion rumbles on for the fourth day.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko “has taken responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on Belarusian territory remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation’s travel, talks and return.”

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said the talks were called following a conversation between Mr Zelensky and Mr Lukashenko after it was feared Belarus was preparing its troops to join Moscow’s invasion.

In a televised address, he said: “Today, we were as close as ever to the entry of Belarus armed forces into the war. This is why Presiden Zelensky and President Lukashenko spoke today.

“We have to defend our northern flank and we have to minimise the threats coming from there.

“So we agreed to send a delegation to the location on the Ukranian-Belarus border and we go to there to listen to what Russia has to say.”

He said diplomats will meet “without preliminary agreement” on what the outcome of the talks can be.

“We are going there to say what we think of this war and Russia’s actions,” Mr Kuleba added.

“I think the fact Russia wants to talk without any pre-conditions or any ultimatums, without any demands addressed to Ukraine, is already a victory for Ukraine.”

Mr Zelensky had previously refused to negotiate in Belarus, but according to Mr Kuleba, the Belarusian president told him there would be “no such move” as long as the planned talks go ahead.

But Mr Zelensky admitted he’s not confident of a positive resolution from the talks, saying: “I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try, so that later not a single citizen of Ukraine has any doubt that I, as president, tried to stop the war.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson echoed his concerns as he said he doubt the sincerity of the talks – branding the invasion a “catastrophe”.

The PM said: “President Putin has decided to wage a war of choice against the people of Ukraine. He’s inflicting untold misery, violence, suffering on a completely innocent population.

“If he wants to stop, if he wants to withdraw, if he wants to negotiate, that’s very good news. I have my doubts, I’ve got to tell you. There’s nothing I’ve seen so far in his behaviour that leads me to think that he could possibly be sincere.

“But if he is then we should pursue every avenue, but clearly what needs to happen is he needs to withdraw his war machine from Ukraine.”

It comes after Mr Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert just after warning the West “may face the greatest consequences in history”.

The Russian tyrant is said to be “furious” he’s not been able to subdue Ukraine and lashed out at NATO for its “unfriendly measures” he says forced him into the chilling nuclear gamble.

The move means Mr Putin has ordered the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear warheads prepared for launched readiness – raising the terrifying possibility the crisis and a miscalculation could spill over into nuclear war.

In an address on state TV, Mr Putin claimed aggressive statements by NATO leaders and economic sanctions against Moscow have forced his hand.

He said “not only do Western countries take unfriendly measures” such as “illegal sanctions” but “top officials of leading NATO countries allow themselves to make aggressive statements with regards to our country”.

Mr Putin said he has now ordered his military command to put Russia’s deterrence forces – a reference to units which include nuclear arms – on high alert.

“I order the defence minister and the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces to put the deterrence forces of the Russian army into a special mode of combat service,” Putin said.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has tonight described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “a disastrous, misbegotten venture by President Putin” which “can lead to no good” for Russia.

The PM told the Ukrainian Cathedral of the Holy Family that he holds “no hostility” to the Russian people but there is “no possible excuse” for its leadership to choose to invade Ukraine.

He said: “I’m going to stress that there is no hostility in my heart towards the Russian people, none whatever – quite the reverse.

“My heart aches for the Russian parents who are already losing their children in this vicious and appalling war – just as it aches for the civilians and the people of Ukraine.

“But when it comes to the Russian leadership who chose this path of violence, and I stress chose this path of violence and aggression, there can be no possible excuse.

“And never in all my study or memory of politics and international affairs have I seen so clear a distinction between right and wrong, between good and evil, between light and dark. And that is the real reason why is Ukraine is our neighbour today.”

This article was originally published by The Sun and has been reproduced with permission.



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