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Russia says Belarusian air force now trained for using its nuclear weapons – live

FBI arrests Pentagon leaks suspect

Military pilots from Belarus have completed training to use Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons, Moscow’s defence ministry has claimed, after president Vladimir Putin announced plans to station part of his arsenal there.

In addition to the agreed-upon smaller tactical nuclear weapons, Belarusian defence minister Viktor Khrenin threatened the West on Friday that “it could be the next step” to also host part of Moscow’s strategic arsenal, claiming: “We are already preparing the sites that we have.”

On the battlefield in neighbouring Ukraine, Kyiv has been forced to concede ground in the bloody battle for Bakhmut after being bombarded with “particularly intense” Russian artillery fire over the past 48 hours, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defence.

Russia’s attack on the Donetsk city has been “re-energised”, amid “improved co-operation” between troops fighting with Moscow’s defence ministry and the Wagner mercenary group, the ministry said, citing UK intelligence.

Ukrainian forces, who still hold the city’s western districts, “face significant resupply issues but have made orderly withdrawals from the positions they have been forced to concede”, it added.


Belarus ‘already preparing’ sites to host Russian nuclear weapons

Belarus is “already preparing” sites to host Russian tactical nuclear weapons, Minsk’s defence minister has said – in addition to the smaller strategic nuclear weapons Vladimir Putin already plans to station there.

Viktor Khrenin said on Friday that “it could be the next step” if the West continues what he described as its hostile course, adding: “We will respond to force only with force. Otherwise, they don’t get it in the West.

“We are already preparing the sites that we have.”

The threatening remarks came as Russia’s defence ministry claimed that Belarusian pilots had completed their training for using tactical nuclear weapons.

The ministry released a video in which a Belarusian pilot said that the training course in Russia had given the crews of the Belarusian air force’s Su-25 ground attack jets the necessary skills for using the weapons.

Andy Gregory14 April 2023 15:11


US document leak reveals were already known, Kyiv officials claim

Information on Ukraine’s war efforts against invading Russian forces, which were revealed from the leak of secret US Pentagon documents, were already known and not surprising, according to top officials in Kyiv.

The problems faced by the country were already known, BBC quoted a senior Ukrainian official as saying. The official added that the leaks would not affect relations between the US and Ukraine.

One of the leaked documents suggested the Ukrainian army continued to face challenges in massing troops, equipment, and ammunition.

It suggested Ukraine may fall short of its goals to launch a counter-offensive against Russia.

Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council head Oleksiy Danilov said the leaks did not affect the military’s plans, adding that “everything will be decided at the last moment”.

Vishwam Sankaran15 April 2023 06:37


Russia fines Wikipedia for Ukraine war article

A Moscow court has fined the Wikimedia Foundation which owns Wikipedia two million rubles (about $25,000) for refusing to remove an article on the war in Ukraine.

Court documents say Wikipedia refused to remove details about the hostilities “within the framework of the special military operation” in Ukraine, Russia’s state-owned news agency TASS reported.

Over recent months, Wikipedia has had “a steady stream of takedown orders that target well-sourced content on Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects”, CNN reported, citing a senior legal manager at the foundation.

Vishwam Sankaran15 April 2023 06:10


Harsh penalties for people who evade Russia’s new military call-up

Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed into law yesterday a bill that allows for setting up electronic draft call-up procedures. The law is expected to make military mobilisation more streamlined in Russia.

And those failing to comply may face restrictions such as being prohibited from leaving the country, Kyiv Independent noted.

People who are non-compliant with the draft call-ups may also reportedly be restricted from performing societal functions like buying real estate or taking out a loan.

Vishwam Sankaran15 April 2023 05:50


Russia using more Chinese electronic components in weapons, Ukraine claims

Ukraine has alleged that it is finding more Chinese components in Russian weapons.

A growing number of components in Russian weapons recovered from the battlefield in Ukraine are reportedly originating from China, Reuters reported, citing a senior adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky.

The trend marks a shift away from Russia’s use of Western-made electronics to Chinese ones, the official said.

Vishwam Sankaran15 April 2023 05:36


Two-year-old among civilians killed in Russian missile strikes

A two-year-old girl was among the civilians killed in missile strikes in eastern Ukraine yesterday, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office.

At least eight people were killed, and 21 injured as a Russian missile hit a five-story building in Donetsk Oblast.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack saying “the invaders brutally bombed the city”.

Vishwam Sankaran15 April 2023 05:19


Ukraine PM says Kyiv, Washington remain united despite document leaks

In an address in the US yesterday, Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmyhal said Kyiv and Washington remain united, but declined to say if the mass leak of classified documents was discussed in meetings with US officials.

Mr Shmyhal said he welcomed the “continuous, ironclad and unprecedented support” of the US.

The prime minister’s statement comes as classified documents were leaked in the US which shared the plans for both Ukraine and Russia as the invasion moves forward.

He shared his plans for Ukraine’s future to focus on its reconstruction and restoration to its pre-war state.

Vishwam Sankaran15 April 2023 04:02


Poland plans to ‘gradually’ supply fighter jets to Ukraine

Polish president Andrzej Duda said yesterday in a press conference that the country would transfer MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine “gradually”.

Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the country, which has so far given eight MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine, can send only a limited number of fighter jets.

It plans to send six more in the coming weeks.

Ukraine’s Spokesperson for the Air Force Command Yurii Ihnat has repeatedly said it needs fighter jets to defend against Russian aircraft dropping high-explosive bombs.

Vishwam Sankaran15 April 2023 03:47


Russian oil exports back above pre-Ukraine war levels as India and China buy 90% of Moscow’s crude

Russian crude oil exports are back above levels seen before Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, despite the ratcheting up of Western sanctions, new data shows.

India and China now account for 90 per cent of Russia’s seaborne crude oil exports, according to figures shared with The Independent by commodities tracking firm Kpler.

The Asian giants are each buying an average of 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), absorbing the shortfall in exports to European nations that previously accounted for two-thirds of Russian crude.

Despite Western sanctions designed to stop funds reaching Vladimir Putin’s war chest following his Ukraine invasion, Russia’s crude oil exports have actually risen from 3.35 million bpd in 2022 to 3.5 million in the first quarter of 2023, Kpler said. After India and China, the two largest buyers of Russian crude are now Turkey and Bulgaria.

Sam Rkaina15 April 2023 03:30


Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal discusses country’s future in Washington DC

Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmyhal made an address in Washington DC today (14 April), ahead of the country’s risky decision to launch a counteroffensive in the ongoing war with Russia.

The timing also closely aligns with a classified documents leak, sharing the plans for both Ukraine and Russia as the invasion moves forward.

Yesterday (13 April), Shmyhal welcomed the “continuous, ironclad and unprecedented support” of the United States, insisting that Ukraine had accounted for every dollar it had received in help.

The prime minister now plans to focus on Ukraine’s reconstruction, and restoring it to its pre-war state.

Energy, humanitarian demining, housing, critical and social infrastructure, and private sector development were all seated firmly at the top of his list of priorities.

Sam Rkaina15 April 2023 02:30

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