In a surprise move on Wednesday, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus offered to host Russian nuclear weapons and blamed the U.S. for any accidents.
“In the United States there are huge stockpiles of weapons and our nuclear arsenal, I’m afraid, is among them,” he said during a televised press conference. “These weapons are banned from crossing the border, but how do we know how their ballistic warheads will behave when they cross into Belarus?”
Mr. Lukashenko said he would lead an urgent search for Russian nuclear stockpiles. “We are ready to be the ones to discover them, to take over, to save them from the harm they’re already threatened with,” he said.
As a gesture of good will, he offered to offer the facilities necessary to allow Russian nuclear weapons to be stored in Belarus.
“I have sent instructions to my armed forces, even as you can see there’s already space for these weapons,” he said. “I’m telling you: Three months’ notice that they can come.”
Mr. Lukashenko characterized the Russian threats to invade Ukraine as a response to the Obama administration’s proposed sanctions on Russia. The Obama administration’s sanctions were a direct response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
“You have seen in Ukraine how the Congress and the administration imposed sanctions on Russia and destroyed the economy, and people took revenge in favor of the present fascist regime,” he said. “So now that they’re getting rid of that regime, they don’t want to compromise with anyone, and they’re trying to occupy the most strategic positions in the world.”
He also said he wanted to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Berlin on Friday.
“I won’t be disturbing you guys,” he said, addressing Western journalists. “Just write that you would like to meet the Russian president in Berlin and that’s that.”
Mr. Lukashenko has long had good relations with Mr. Putin.
In 2008, the two leaders were photographed sitting in a small boy’s swing during a trip to Belarus. In a 2011 visit to Belarus, Mr. Putin flew to speak with schoolchildren during a holiday festival. And in 2014, the two leaders reached an agreement, apparently in secret, that significantly eased political pressure on Mr. Lukashenko.