At his annual end-of-year press conference Thursday, President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia's future policy would depend "on the unconditional guarantees of Russian national security", and stressed that Moscow has "made it clear that NATO's expansion to the east is unacceptable".
Russia will respond to any hostile actions by the Western powers with adequate military measures, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.
"You must understand why this subject has arisen: It is because of the continued hostile actions being taken by NATO countries, to which Russia's leadership has responded by saying that if all of this continues, such hostile, unfriendly, aggressive actions will be met with an adequate response, including in the military-technical sphere," Zakharova said, speaking at a briefing Friday, and responding to a question about the possible deployment of Russian nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory.
"Therefore there's no need to invent the idea that these are special, secret plans. Nothing of the kind. This is a sober assessment of the situation on the planet, [based on] an understanding of the strategy and tactics of countries and political systems with which we must now do business...and the creation of appropriate measures, goals and tasks based on this," she added.
On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that all options, including the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus, would be considered in the event of NATO's refusal to discuss Russia's twin security proposals - which demand a halt to the alliance's eastward expansion into Ukraine, and propose other means to ease tensions.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei indicated that Minsk would consider the possibility of deploying Russian nuclear weapons on its territory if NATO put nukes in Poland.
Moscow handed the US and NATO a pair of detailed security proposals last week, recommending legally binding commitments by Moscow and Washington not to deploy weapons and troops in areas where they may be perceived as a threat to the other party's national security, setting limits on the deployment of intermediate and shorter-range missiles, demanding that NATO halt its eastward expansion, and abandon its military activities in Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Russian officials have warned that the proposals must be "evaluated in their totality" and are "not...a menu, where it is possible to pick and choose". Moscow has also warned that it will be forced to create a system of "counterthreats" to the US and NATO should the Western alliance reject the security proposals out of hand.
At his year-end press conference Thursday, President Putin indicated that Russia's future actions would depend on "unconditional guarantees of Russian national security, rather than the course of negotiations" with the West. "We have made it clear that NATO's expansion eastward is unacceptable. The US is on our doorstep with its missiles. How would Americans react if we were to place our missiles at the US border with Canada or Mexico?" Putin said.