Belarus has started taking the delivery of Russian tactical nuclear weapons, president Alexander Lukashenko announced, claiming that some of these were three times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Mr Lukashenko said that “the bombs are three times more powerful than those (dropped on) Hiroshima and Nagasaki”, adding to his previous statement that he didn’t simply ask Mr Putin for the weapons, but “demanded” them.

The Vladimir Putin ally was speaking to the Russian state TV channel Rossiya-1 on a road in a forest clearing with military vehicles and a storage facility visible in the background seen around him.

This will be the first such warhead deployment by Moscow, comprising shorter-range less powerful nuclear weapons that could potentially be used on the battlefield, outside of Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The interview was posted on the Belarusian Belta state news agency’s Telegram channel on Wednesday.

This comes five days after the Russian president announced plans to start deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, even as Moscow will retain their control, after the special storage facilities to park them were ready.

Mr Lukashenko further confirmed his close ally’s statement in the state television interview where he said Belarus has numerous nuclear storage facilities from the Soviet-era and has restored five or six of them.

On control of nuclear weapons in Russia’s hands as a move to prevent the arsenal from being used up quickly, Mr Lukashenko played down the concern and said that Mr Putin and he could pick up the phone to each other “at any moment”.