Referendum allows Belarus to host Russian nuclear weapons

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According to the Alexander Lukashenko administration, more than 65% of Belarusians voted on Sunday for a constitutional amendment proposed by the former Soviet President. In the revised version of the Constitution, the country is no longer obliged to maintain a “nuclear-free zone.”

A referendum in Belarus on Sunday (February 27) approved a new constitution that abolishes the country’s obligation to remain a “nuclear-free zone,” according to a Russian news agency.

A Russian news agency quoted the Central Election Commission in Belarus, saying that 65.2% of the participants voted in favor of the text. The results are not surprising given the tight control of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The new constitution may allow nuclear weapons in Belarus’ soil for the first time since the country abandoned nuclear weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union. At the end of January, the United States warned that the reform would not allow the deployment of Russia’s nuclear weapons in countries adjacent to Ukraine and Poland.

“Hello, you [les Occidentaux] We will move nuclear weapons to Poland, Lithuania and the border, and urge President Putin to return the unconditionally abandoned nuclear weapons. “

>> Read on Belarus, Moscow’s new outpost that puts pressure on Europe

The West has already declared that it is unaware of the outcome of this referendum against the backdrop of a massive crackdown on government opponents. France thus revealed on Monday in a statement from a foreign ministry spokesman that it was unaware of the “results of the so-called referendum.”

In power until 2035

France is “particularly concerned about the removal of references to Belarus’s neutral objectives and the denuclearization of its territory,” he said. “The right to work with NATO partners to take the necessary steps to adapt to this new one.” The strategic situation that warns us. “

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs of the European Union (EU), estimated on Monday that Russia was on a “very dangerous road” with the intention of deploying nuclear equipment in Belarus.

The EU will impose new sanctions on Belarus this week as it supports Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to senior European officials.

Other constitutional amendments include the lifelong impunity of the former president and the introduction of two-term presidential restrictions on the successor of Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country with iron fists since 1994.

If the Constitution did not previously envision restrictions, the new restrictions will apply from the inauguration of the new president, and if Alexander Lukashenko is reelected in 2025, he will be able to remain in power until 2035.

The referendum has triggered anti-war protests in several cities. At least 290 people were arrested, according to human rights advocates.

The re-election of Alexander Lukashenko to the President in August 2020 triggered a historic protest in the former Soviet Republic, which was severely suppressed by authorities who carried out mass arrests, media and liquidation of NGOs.

In Russia, the constitutional amendment adopted in 2020 paved the way for President Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036.

AFP and Reuters