Russia Ukraine war latest news: Wagner troops evacuate Bakhmut as Putin to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus
G7 summit: Zelensky and Fumio Kishida lay wreaths at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima
Russia’s Vladimir Putin has signed a deal with its ally Belarus to store tactical nuclear weapons at a special facility whose construction should be completed in a matter of weeks.
While it will mark the first time that Moscow‘s warheads have been stationed outside Russia’s borders since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States has already such weapons stationed with five of its Nato partners.
The move came as the leader of Russian mercenary group Wagner claimed Mr Putin could face a revolution similar to those of 1917 and lose the war in Ukraine unless the elite got serious about fighting the war, as his mercenaries handed Bakhmut over to Russian troops and began to withdraw.
Ukraine is preparing a counter-offensive aimed at pushing Moscow’s forces back to the borders of before 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea, Yevgeny Prigozhin said. Ukraine would try to encircle Bakhmut and attack Crimea, he added.
“Most likely of all, this scenario will not be good for Russia so we need to prepare for an arduous war,” he said.
Relocation of nuclear warheads to Belarus has already started, claims Lukashenko
Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko has claimed that the relocation of some of Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus has already started, state news agency Tass reports.
Russia signed a deal with its close ally Belarus earlier on Thursday about the storage of the warheads at a special facility, which it claims should be completed in just over a month’s time.
Andy Gregory25 May 2023 16:40
EU tells China to play constructive role towards peace in Ukraine
The European Commission has repeated calls for China to play a constructive role in establishing peace in Ukraine, after a top EU diplomat met Li Hui, China’s special representative for Eurasian Affairs and former ambassador to Russia.
“The EU expects China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to play a constructive role … and to recall the necessity to respect the principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity … by unconditionally withdrawing all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders,” the EU said in a statement.
Last week, Li Hui visited Ukraine and met president Volodymyr Zelensky in a European tour that Beijing billed as its effort to promote peace talks and a political settlement. He is set to visit Russia on Friday.
Cyprus upholding sanctions on Russia, EU must support sectors hit
Cyprus said on Thursday it was committed to upholding European Union sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and urged the bloc to support sectors, such as shipping, that have felt the impact of EU decision.
“Right from the start, Cyprus has been implementing all the sanctions related to the Russian invasion to Ukraine“, President Nikos Christodoulides said after meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. “We’re on the right side of history and we will continue in the same direction.”
“Where there is a cost for the European industries due to the decisions that we take – the right decisions that we take – the European Union should intervene to support those sectors.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 15:08
Russia signs deal to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus
Russia and Belarus signed a deal on Thursday formalizing the procedure for deploying Russian nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory. Control of the weapons will remain with Moscow.
The move formalized the deal agreed on earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Putin previously announced in March that his country planned to deploy tactical, comparatively short-range and small-yield nuclear weapons in Belarus. The inking of the deal comes as Russia braces for Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive.
Both Russian and Belarusian officials framed the step as driven by hostility from the West.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 14:30
Russia expels five Swedish diplomats, says ties at “unprecedented low”
Russia said on Thursday it would expel five Swedish diplomats in what it said was a retaliatory measure for Sweden’s “confrontational course” in relations with Russia.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was responding to the expulsion of five of its diplomatic staff from Sweden last month, which it called an “openly hostile step”.
Relations between the two countries have worsened since Sweden last year announced its intention to join NATO following Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian statement said ties had “reached an unprecedented low”.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 14:10
Russia summons Germany, Denmark, Sweden envoys over ‘stalled’ Nord Stream investigation
Russia‘s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it had summoned the ambassadors of Germany, Sweden and Denmark to protest over what it said was the “complete lack of results” in an investigation to identify who blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year.
Several unexplained underwater explosions ruptured the Nord Stream 1 and newly-built Nord Stream 2 pipelines that link Russia and Germany across the Baltic Sea in September 2022.
The blasts occurred in the economic zones of Sweden and Denmark and both countries say the explosions were deliberate, but have yet to determine who was responsible. The two countries and Germany are investigating the incident.
Russia‘s Foreign Ministry in a statement accused all three of deliberately dragging their feet and of trying to conceal who was behind the blasts.
It said it was unhappy about what it called the opaque nature of the investigation and its refusal to engage with Russia.
“It has been noted that these countries are not interested in establishing the true circumstances of this sabotage. On the contrary, they are delaying their efforts and trying to conceal the tracks and the true perpetrators of the crime behind which we believe are well-known countries,” it said.
“It is no coincidence that ‘leaked’ improbable versions (of what happened) are dumped in the media to try to muddy the waters.”
The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have called the incident “an act of sabotage.” Moscow has blamed the West. Neither side has provided evidence.
The ministry said Moscow would keep trying to ensure that Germany, Denmark and Sweden conducted what it called an objective investigation with Russia participating too.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 13:45
Live: Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin speaks at Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting
Watch live as US secretary of defense Lloyd Austin delivers opening remarks at a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 13:20
Nato chief says Ukraine should not join alliance until Russia’s invasion is over
Ukraine will not be able to join Nato as long as Russia’s invasion continues, the head of the alliance has said.
“To become a member in the midst of a war is not on the agenda,” Jens Stoltenberg said. “The issue is what happens when the war ends.”
Last September, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky announced a bid for fast-track membership of Nato after Russia’s president Vladimir Putin proclaimed four partially-occupied regions of Ukraine as annexed Russian land as part of Moscow’s invasion. Since then, there have been plenty of platitudes from Nato members about how Ukraine belongs in the alliance, but little concrete action, with some Western allies of Kyiv wary of moves that could push Nato towards an active war with Russia.
At an event organised by think tank German Marshall Fund of The United States in Brussels, Mr Stoltenberg acknowledged there were differences among the alliance over how to address Kyiv’s membership ambitions.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 13:03
Watch: Wagner leader says Russian forces withdrawing from Bakhmut
Wagner leader says Russian forces withdrawing from Bakhmut
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 12:13
Ukraine says Russian soldiers replace Wagner units in Bakhmut outskirts
Russia has replaced its Wagner private military units with regular soldiers in the outskirts of Bakhmut but the group’s fighters remain inside the devastated city, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on Thursday.
Her comments appeared at least partially to confirm an announcement by Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin that his group had started withdrawing its forces from Bakhmut in east Ukraine and handing over its positions to regular Russian troops.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain25 May 2023 11:55