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Volodymyr Zelensky: "37 years ago, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant left a huge scar around the world"


IMAGO/Ukraine Presidency/Ukrainian Pre / IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

According to its own statements, the Russian armed forces have trained soldiers from neighboring Belarus on the missiles before the planned stationing of tactical nuclear weapons there. They have shown good results, said the Ministry of Defense in Moscow. The ministry also released a video purporting to show training at a Russian military training ground in the south of the country. Accordingly, the Iskander-M missile system was on display. The missiles can be equipped with conventional, but also with nuclear warheads. At the same time, on the occasion of the 37th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Ukraine calls on the international community not to allow itself to be blackmailed by Russia with nuclear threats.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced the stationing of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus in response to tensions between Russia and NATO countries. Its trigger was and is the war against Ukraine started by Putin. According to the Russian ministry, training on the weapons began on April 3, according to Putin's announcement. The Belarusian soldiers have so far studied the storage and use of tactical explosive devices for the missiles. There was also a test launch of a rocket, as can be seen on the video.

Putin also justified the deployment at the end of March with the fact that the United States had been holding nuclear weapons in Europe, including Germany, for years. Bunkers for the storage of nuclear warheads in Belarus are expected to be completed on July 1. Russia, according to its own statements, retains control over it. The weapons are to be stationed on the border with Poland.

After voluntarily surrendering its nuclear weapons in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belarus received nuclear missiles for the first time since the 1990s. To this end, ruler Alexander Lukashenko had the constitution amended: Three days after the start of the Russian war of aggression, he organized a referendum that removed the demand for a nuclear-weapon-free status from the constitution as well as the neutrality of the country.

Putin repeatedly threatens Ukraine and its allies with nuclear weapons. A tactic with which he wants to intimidate the West and appease the hardliners at home if things are not going well on the fronts in Ukraine, for example. SPIEGEL correspondent Christina Hebel explains the calculation behind Putin's nuclear plan in the podcast "Eight Billion":

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meanwhile, called on people not to be intimidated by Russia with nuclear threats. On the occasion of the anniversary of the Chernobyl reactor accident and in relation to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the Ukrainian president declared: "We must do everything possible not to give the terrorist state a chance to use nuclear power plants to blackmail Ukraine and the whole world." Russia denies the accusation of exploiting security concerns as a means of exerting pressure.

On April 26, 1986, a reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, north of Kiev, exploded in Ukraine. Thousands of people were killed and injured, tens of thousands of people were forcibly resettled, and a radioactive cloud swept over Europe. "37 years ago, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant left a huge scar around the world," Zelenskyy said.