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Belarus to renounce neutral status, allows Russia to place nuclear weapons on its territory

Minsk [Belarus]: Belarus is set to renounce its non-nuclear and neutral status, allowing Russia to place nuclear weapons on its territory, following a referendum held on Sunday. The head of the Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC), Igor Karpenko, said more than 65 per cent of Belarusian citizens have voted in favour of Constitutional amendments during a referendum. "A total of 65.16 per cent of the referendum participants included in the voting lists voted for the adoption of amendments and additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, and 10.07 per cent voted against," Karpenko said, as quoted by Russian news agency Sputnik.According to Belarusian law, a decision at a referendum is considered adopted if more than half of the citizens included in the lists of participants voted for it. The Belarusian referendum turnout is estimated at over 78 per cent. The Russian news agency said the decision taken at the referendum will come into force 10 days after the official publication of the results. This comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin placed the country's nuclear deterrent forces on a "special" alert on Sunday. Putin announced the move during a meeting with Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov, reported RT News. According to media reports, a Ukrainian delegation is expected to hold talks with Russia on Monday morning. Earlier on Sunday, the head of the Russian delegation, said that Kyiv had agreed to hold talks with Russia in Belarus. The two delegations are slated to meet in the Gomel region, at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border.

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