The West has expressed concern and outrage over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent nuclear saber-rattling, but his threat to use tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus may reveal more about the Kremlin’s frailty than it would alter the course of the war in Ukraine.

NATO has criticized Putin’s announcement that he would use the weapons on the territory of Moscow’s reliable neighbors and allies, calling it “dangerous and irresponsible,” while Kyiv said it threatened “the international security system as a whole.” The announcement comes as Russia’s military struggles to win new victories on the battlefield.

Nevertheless, military specialists told NBC News that the action is probably just the most recent attempt to intimidate Ukraine’s friends with nuclear threats. This might deepen not only the already deteriorating breach between Moscow and Kiev but also.

In an interview that aired on Russian state television on Saturday night, Putin made the announcement. He claimed that storing his country’s tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which borders three NATO members as well as Russia and Ukraine, does not violate nuclear non-proliferation agreements and will in fact reflect Washington, which has long had nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.

The Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has long lobbied for the change, according to Putin, who supported him after violent protests in 2020 almost toppled “Europe’s last tyrant.”