Russia and Belarus have signed an agreement to deploy Russian tactical nuclear missiles on Belarusian territory, with Moscow stating that it will maintain control over the weapons. The move has been criticised by Ukraine, which has accused Russia of taking Minsk “hostage”. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the decision was taken in response to rising tensions with the West. President Vladimir Putin had first announced the deployment in March. Since invading Ukraine last year, Putin has repeatedly stated that Russia would be prepared to use nuclear weapons if necessary to defend its “territorial integrity”.