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Ukraine war: Russian nukes in Belarus plan, Africa urged to ditch 'neutrality', border raids

A Yars intercontinental ballistic missile is test-fired as part of Russia's nuclear drills from a launch site in Plesetsk, northwestern Russia.
A Yars intercontinental ballistic missile is test-fired as part of Russia's nuclear drills from a launch site in Plesetsk, northwestern Russia. Copyright AP/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service
Copyright AP/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service
By Euronews with AFP/AP
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All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

Russia to move nuclear weapons to Belarus

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Russia advanced its plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, signing a deal on Thursday to facilitate a special warhead establishment in the neighbouring nation. 

The plan to deploy nukes beyond Russia's boundaries was announced by President Vladimir Putin in a TV interview on March 25. 

Kremlin has not specified the exact date of deployment, yet expects the new facility to be ready in just over a month's time in Belarus. 

Moscow has not kept its nuclear weapons outside of the Russian borders since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. 

The Iskander-M missiles, with warheads carrying capabilities, have already been handed to the Belarusian armed forces, Russia's defence minister Sergei Shoigu said. 

"Belarusian servicemen have received the necessary training," Shoigu added, emphasizing that the two countries will ensure optimum security. 

Some Su-25 aircraft will also be converted to be used in the nuclear deployment, he said. 

The US estimates Russia has around 2,000 working warheads that can be used to gain specific advantages on the battlefield. 

Expect more Russian border raids, says head of anti-Putin force

The Russian commander of fighters that raided the Russian border region earlier this week has said he will launch more attacks from Ukraine.

“I think you will see us again on that side,” said Denis Kapustin, self-described commander of the Russian Volunteer Corps on Wednesday. 

His threat came one day after Moscow said it had defeated a two-day attack in its southwest Belogrod region. 

Kapustin, who was surrounded by 30 camouflaged soldiers, is notorious for his ultra-nationalist views. 

He said his force was battling “injustice” and “torture” under Russian President Vladimir Putin, hoping they would inspire others to rise up. 

His Russian Volunteer Corps - along with the allied Freedom of Russia Legion - claimed responsibility for the border raid that began on Monday. 

Kyiv denies involvement, emphasising it was carried out by anti-Putin forces. Sharing images of damaged American military equipment, Moscow has accused the US of being involved - something Washington denies

Russia claims it arrested Ukrainians planning nuclear plant attacks

Russia's security service has announced the arrest of Ukraine-linked "saboteurs", claiming they were planning to attack and disrupt Russian nuclear power plants.

According to an FSB spokesperson, a "sabotage group" involved with Ukraine's own Foreign Intelligence Service "tried to blow up about 30 power supply lines at the Leningrad and Kalinin nuclear power plants" in the northwest of the country in early May. 

They called this an attempt to shut down nuclear reactors and "cause significant damage to Russia's economy and reputation.

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The FSB named the arrested men as Ukrainian citizens Alexander Maystruk and Eduard Usatenko. 

A wanted notice has also been issued for a third man, Yuri Kishchak, a Russian-Ukrainian, and two "Russian accomplices" have apparently also been arrested.

Ukraine's top diplomat calls on Africa for support

Ukrainian Foreign Minister has urged some African countries to give up their neutrality towards the Russian invasion. 

"We are trying to explain to our African friends that neutrality is not the answer," said Dmytro Kuleba while visiting the African Union HQ in Ethiopia on Wednesday. 

"By being neutral towards Russian aggression against Ukraine, you extend that neutrality to border violations and mass crimes that may be happening near you," he explained, alluding to the presence of Russian mercenaries on the continent. 

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In February, 22 of the 54 African Union member states abstained or did not vote in a UN resolution calling on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine. 

Across much of Africa, there is ambivalence towards the Russian invasion, with the sky-high food and energy prices that it has fuelled battering the continent.  

Though not translating into pro-Russian sentiment, painful historical memories of colonialism have meant there is "less sympathy for the Western position", Paul Rogers, Professor of International Security at the University of Bradford, told Euronews in March. 

Russia repels overnight drone attack

Six drones were shot down overnight in Crimea between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, said the local Moscow-backed governor Sergei Aksionov.

Crimea is a peninsula in the Black Sea that was annexed by Russia in 2014 - prompting Ukrainian and international condemnation.  

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Beginning in July 2022, a string of explosions occurred in Crimea, destroying several planes at the Saky airbase and blowing up a crucial bridge between the peninsula and mainland Ukraine. 

Attacks and sabotage have been on the rise in Russia and Russian-occupied territory lately, as Kyiv says it is completing preparations to launch a counter-offensive.

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