Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of neighbouring Belarus from 8 July.
"As you know, on 7-8 July the preparation of the corresponding facilities will be completed and we will immediately begin the deployment of the corresponding weapons on their territory. So everything is going according to plan," Putin said as he met with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, at his summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Putin expressed his readiness to discuss security issues with Lukashenko in the context of the war in Ukraine, which borders both countries.
At the end of May, Lukashenko announced in Moscow the start of the transfer of Russian tactical nuclear weapons after revealing that Putin had already signed the relevant stationing decree.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and Belarusian Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin signed documents regulating the storage of "non-strategic" nuclear weapons on the territory of the former Soviet republic in Minsk a fortnight ago.
Moscow has stressed that the Iskander-M tactical-operational missile system, capable of using missiles not only in conventional but also in nuclear weapons, has already been delivered to Belarus, which sees it as "an effective response to the aggressive policy of hostile countries".
"Some of the Belarusian aircraft have been converted for the possible use of nuclear weapons. The military have received appropriate training," Shoigou said.
The Russian minister stressed that while Russia deploys non-strategic nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus, Moscow will retain control over them and over the decision on their eventual use.
"Russia is not transferring nuclear weapons to the Republic of Belarus: control over them and the decision to use them remains with the Russian side," he stressed.
Last March the Kremlin leader announced an agreement with his Belarusian counterpart on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the neighbouring country, which has accelerated economic and political integration within the framework of the State Union over the past two years.
Belarusian military personnel received training in Russia in April on the use of special tactical ammunition for Iskander-M missiles.
In the same month it also announced that training of Belarusian forces to operate Su-25 attack aircraft, which were equipped to carry tactical nuclear weapons, had been completed.