Skip to content

‘I Appreciate The Joke:’ Kazakhstan President Laughs Off Lukashenko’s Nuclear Alliance Offer

Despite historical ties with Russia, Kazakhstan publicly upholds its nuclear non-proliferation commitments.

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who has close historical ties with Russia, declined Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko’s offer of nuclear weapons for nations willing “to join the Union State of Russia and Belarus.”

Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko arrives for a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 25, 2023. ILYA PITALEV/BENZINGA

Kazakhstan, which has refused to recognize Vladimir Putin’s annexation of parts of Ukraine, dismissed Lukashenko’s invitation to join the Minsk-Moscow union.

“I appreciated his joke,” he said, according to Kazinform.

Kazakhstan was already a member of a broader Moscow-led trade bloc, the Eurasian Economic Union, and thinks no further integration was necessary.

“As for nuclear weapons, we do not need them,” because  Kazakhstan has joined non-proliferation treaties, he said.

“We remain faithful to our obligations within the framework of these international documents.”

Russia and Kazakhstan share a long history of close ties and cooperation. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Astana has been one of Russia’s closest and most reliable allies in the post-Soviet space.

However, it declined to recognize the annexation of Ukraine’s eastern regions by Putin through referendums held there. “Kazakhstan proceeds from the principles of territorial integrity of states, their sovereign equivalence and peaceful coexistence,” it said.

Lukashenko’s announcement was not the first time this year Russia and its allies have engaged in nuclear saber-rattling. 

In May of last year, Russia sold Belarus nuclear-capable Iskander ballistic missiles.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual state of the nation address at the Gostiny Dvor conference centre in central Moscow on February 21, 2023. (Photo by DMITRY ASTAKHOV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Earlier this year, Russia pulled out of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty earlier this year, Russia’s last remaining large nuclear arms control agreement with the United States. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the move during his state-of-the-nation address on February 21.

Produced in association with Benzinga

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Sterling Creighton Beard

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners