RIGA - Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement about the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus does not change anything in regards to Latvia's security situation, Janis Sarts, director of NATO's Strategic Communication Center of Excellence, admitted in an interview on Latvian Television this morning.
He explained that whether Belarus has nuclear weapons does not significantly change anything for Latvia, because Latvia is already a neighboring country of Russia. Although there has already been an announcement about the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus, their actual deployment in the neighboring country has not started, Sarts emphasized.
In Sarts' view, in general, positive features can be seen in this situation. "Putin resorts to nuclear blackmail when the situation is very bad," said the director of NATO's Strategic Communications Center of Excellence.
According to him, Putin assesses the situation in general as quite poor and is afraid of a potential Ukrainian counterattack, because he understands that there are vulnerabilities in the Russian armed forces.
Sarts pointed out that Putin's announcement came soon after he had met with Chinese President Xi Jinping where the two sides confirmed ''that they are great friends''. This situation could mean that in reality there was no serious agreement between the two presidents on support for Russia from China.
"The Chinese president does not expect that his friend will act in this way. Therefore, it can be seen that the situation from Putin's, Russia's position is bad enough, due to which the situation is escalating. The reasons for the escalation give hope that a lot will depend on the Ukrainian counterattack, with which much can be achieved," assessed Sarts.
He also emphasized that it is important to observe what is happening and will happen in Belarus - whether Putin's announcement will increase the presence of Russian troops in the neighboring country and what will be Russia's influence on military decisions.