While Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says that Russian tactical nuclear weapons are already being deployed on the territory of Belarus, Kiev says that the long-announced counter-offensive has begun in some parts of the front.
Myzhail Podolyak, adviser to the chief of staff of the president of Ukraine, said in an interview for Italian television that the Ukrainian counter-offensive has already begun.
According to him, Ukrainian troops have been conducting counter-offensive operations in certain sectors of the front, which stretches for a thousand and a half kilometers.
Kiev and western parts of Ukraine were the target of a new Russian attack on the night between Wednesday and Thursday, and Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian mercenary paramilitary group Wagner, announced that his fighters had begun withdrawing from Bakhmut and handing over to the control of the Russian regular army.
You can read more about it here.
While Moscow claims to control all of Bakhmut, the Ukrainian military command maintains that it still holds positions in certain parts of the city.
Defense Ministers of Russia and Belarus Sergey Shoigu and Viktor Krenin signed documents on Thursday in Minsk on the procedure for placing Russian nuclear weapons in a special storage facility on the territory of Belarus.
On March 25, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia, at the request of the Belarusian side, will deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of the country, noting that the United States has been doing the same on the territory of its allies for years.
Read what tactical nuclear weapons are in a separate text.
As part of this agreement, Moscow has already handed Minsk the nuclear-capable Iskander missile system and helped refit Belarusian aircraft to be able to use nuclear weapons.
Watch a video about Ukraine’s expected counter-offensive:
- The Russian mercenary group Wagner began withdrawing from Bakhmut, its head Yevgeny Prigozhin announced
- Mihail Podolyak, adviser to the Ukrainian president, said that the Ukrainian counter-offensive has started in some directions
- A paramilitary group of Russian volunteers fighting against Putin claimed responsibility for the attack on Belgorod
- The Russian Ministry of Defense claims to have defeated the saboteurs, calling them “Ukrainian nationalists” and announcing a fierce response to any future attack
- Since March, the European Union has delivered 220,000 grenades to Ukraine out of the million promised for the next year, said the head of the EU’s foreign service, Josep Borrell.
- The US announces a new package of military aid to Ukraine of 375 million dollars, having previously given permission to Western allies to supply fighter jets to Ukraine
- Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, more than 480 children have died, and nearly 1,000 have been wounded, according to the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office.
- The Orthodox Church of Ukraine approved the transition to the new calendar. Christmas will now be celebrated on December 25 instead of January 7
Conflicts in the Belgorod region: What Moscow is saying and what Washington is saying
Parts of the border territory around Belgorod, a city in Russia, were targeted earlier this week in one of the biggest acts of sabotage on Russian territory since the invasion began in February 2022.
America has distanced itself from an incursion into Russian territory, which Moscow says ended with the defeat of armed rebels who entered from Ukraine.
Russia has published pictures of abandoned and damaged military vehicles of Western manufacture, including American Humvees.
America emphasizes that it “does not encourage or enable attacks inside Russia.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced a “fierce response” to cross-border incursions from Ukraine, a day after Moscow said it had defeated sabotage groups in the Belgorod region.
Moscow has accused Ukraine of the incursion, which Kiev has denied and says that two paramilitary groups made up exclusively of Russians opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin are behind the attack.
Although Russia’s Defense Ministry declared victory over the sabotage groups, the governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said that there were again drone attacks between Tuesday and Wednesday night.
Briefing Defense Ministry officials about the incursion, Shoigu said “more than 70 Ukrainian nationalists” had been killed and the rest had been driven back to Ukraine.
“We will continue to respond quickly and extremely fiercely to such actions of Ukrainian extremists,” he said.
Two Russian paramilitary groups – the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and the Russian Freedom Legion (LSR) – denied any losses and announced that a Russian motorized company had been destroyed.
Claims of casualties by the warring parties have not been independently verified.
Russia also claims that Western military vehicles were used in the raid and presented photos of destroyed American vehicles apparently at the site of the fighting.
Some Ukrainian military experts and bloggers suggest that Moscow may have staged it.
The US said it was skeptical that reports of US-supplied weapons used in the incursion were true and did not “encourage or enable strikes inside Russia”.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the vehicles were evidence of growing Western military involvement in Ukraine.
“It is no secret for us that more and more equipment is being supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces.” It is no secret that this equipment is used against our army,” he said.
Saboteurs: “We will attack again”
People who call themselves members of a sabotage group that crossed the border of the Belogorod region and clashed with the Russian army on Monday held a press conference on the territory of Ukraine and promised to carry out new actions on the territory of Russia.
“I think you’ll still see us on the other side.” I can’t correct the details, I can’t even correct the course of action. The border is quite long,” Denis Kapustin, who presents himself as the commander of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK), told reporters.
Western media have repeatedly written about him as one of the most influential right-wing radicals in Europe, among other things, known as the owner of the brand White Rex which sells clothes with neo-Nazi symbols.
In addition to the RDK, the so-called “Freedom of Russia” Legion – declared a terrorist organization in Russia and banned – took responsibility for the incursion into the Belgorod region.
In March, the “Russian Volunteer Corps” took part in a similar raid on the Bryansk region.
In Russia, Kapustin was accused of a terrorist act, illegal trade in weapons and explosives.
Territorial defense established in Belgorod region
After the invasion of saboteurs, the authorities of the Belgorod region created seven territorial defense battalions of about 3,000 people.
“In our history, from the point of view of self-defense, I believe this will be a real story, but we have to act within the law,” said regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.
According to him, the defense units have been training since November last year – they have uniforms and equipment, but no weapons.
Read the confessions of people who survived the horrors of the war in Ukraine:
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