Russia has started transferring nuclear weapons to Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday May 25. This materializes the deployment announced in March by Vladimir Putin. “The transfer of nuclear charges has started, it has already started,” confirmed Alexander Lukashenko, answering a question from a journalist in a video broadcast by the unofficial Telegram channel of the Belarusian presidency, Pul Pervogo. “This does not just endanger the lives of Belarusians, but also creates a new threat for Ukraine, for all of Europe,” wrote exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on Twitter.
In addition, the head of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, Evgueni Prigojine, said Thursday that his men began to transfer their positions in Bakhmout, a city which he claimed to have captured, to regular troops of the Russian army.
On Russian and Ukrainian territories, drone attacks are increasing. During the night, the Ukrainian authorities announced that they had repelled a “massive” attack by 36 drones targeting kyiv. According to President Zelensky, Russia is “terrorizing Ukraine” with its night attacks. Meanwhile, six Ukrainian drones were shot down in Crimea, according to Russian authorities.
On the diplomatic side, Ukraine is seeking the support of African countries. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, visited Ethiopia, where the headquarters of the African Union is located, on Wednesday. On the spot, the diplomat castigated the increasingly important influence of Moscow on the African continent, in particular through the Wagner militia.
Wagner began to transfer his positions in Bakhmout to the Russian army
“We are in the process of withdrawing the units from Bakhmout today. By June 1, most of them will be relocating to bases in the rear. We are handing over the positions to the soldiers, the ammunition and everything that they need. is there,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video released by his press service. “We retire, we rest, we prepare, then we will receive new tasks,” Prigozhin added. Wagner’s boss on Wednesday assessed the losses in his ranks at 10,000 inmates recruited from Russian prisons, and as many professional soldiers.
On the Ukrainian side, they still deny having completely lost control of the city of Bakhmout. kyiv still claims to control an “insignificant” pocket of it in the west of the city while carrying out offensives on the Russian flanks. Ukraine is therefore betting on a breakthrough around this city in the hope of achieving its “tactical encirclement”.
Russia announces the arrest of Ukrainian “saboteurs” who targeted nuclear power plants
The Russian Security Service (FSB) announced on Thursday the arrest of Ukrainian “saboteurs” in Russia. They were suspected of planning attacks aimed at disrupting the operation of Russian nuclear power plants. “A sabotage group of the Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence Service […] attempted to blow up around 30 electrical transmission lines at the Leningrad and Kalinin nuclear power plants” in early May, to cause “the shutdown of nuclear reactors”, the FSB said in a statement, quoted by Russian news agencies Two Ukrainians were reportedly arrested.
Ukrainian army reportedly repelled Russian drone attack on kyiv
During the night, the Ukrainian authorities announced that they had repelled a “massive” attack by Russian drones targeting the city of kyiv. 36 aircraft were reportedly shot down. “All air targets flying towards Kiev were destroyed by our air defense. According to preliminary information, Shahed-type drones were at work during this attack,” the head of the civil and military administration explained on Telegram. of Kiev, Serhiï Popko. Also according to the Ukrainian authorities, this would be the twelfth drone attack targeting the Ukrainian capital since the beginning of May. According to President Zelensky, Russia is “terrorizing Ukraine” with its night attacks.
Six Ukrainian drones shot down in Crimea
During the night of Wednesday to Thursday, six Ukrainian drones were destroyed in Crimea, a peninsula which was annexed by Russia. “During the past night, six drones were shot down or jammed […] in different districts of Crimea. The incident caused no casualties or injuries,” local governor installed by Moscow, Sergei Aksionov, wrote on Telegram. its preparations to launch an offensive to retake the territories occupied by Moscow.
Moscow closes the Swedish Consulate General in Saint Petersburg
Russian diplomacy announced Thursday to close from September 1 the Swedish Consulate General in Saint Petersburg and that of Russia in Gothenburg, Sweden, in response to the “policy of confrontation” led by Stockholm. Swedish Ambassador Malena Mard was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday to be notified of this decision, Russian diplomacy said in a statement. Moscow also announced the expulsion of five Swedish diplomats in response to a similar measure taken in April against Russian diplomats.
Sweden, a NATO candidate, announced at the end of April that it was expelling five Russian diplomats for “activities incompatible” with their diplomatic status.
The United States approves the sale of surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the United States announced that it would sell Ukraine advanced NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems worth about $285 million. The purpose of the operation is to strengthen the country’s air defense capability against Russia. “Ukraine urgently needs to strengthen its defense capabilities against missile strikes and Russian aircraft,” the US Defense Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement. The sale still needs to be approved by the US Congress.
Kyiv is looking for support in Africa.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, was in Ethiopia on Wednesday to attend the 60th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity, ancestor of the current African Union AU. He called on several African countries to abandon their displayed neutrality in the conflict between kyiv and Moscow. “We are trying to explain to our African friends that neutrality is not the answer, because by being neutral towards Russian aggression towards Ukraine, you are extending that neutrality to border violations and mass crimes that can happen near you, if not happen to you,” he said at a press conference.
“This year, we will establish new embassies in different parts of the continent and plan to organize the first Ukraine-Africa summit”, added the minister, inviting African leaders to “participate in this important event”.
Of the 54 member states of the African Union, 22 abstained or did not participate in the vote on the recent UN General Assembly resolution urging Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, in last February. Two countries, Eritrea and Mali, even voted against. At the headquarters of the African Union (AU), located in Addis Ababa, the Ukrainian diplomat also castigated Moscow’s growing influence on the African continent: “Russia’s most important real investment in Africa, they are Wagner’s mercenaries”.
Russian fighters claim incursion into Belgorod region
In recent days, two groups of fighters have claimed incursions into Russian territory. The attacks reportedly took place in the Belgorod region, and were accompanied by an airstrike on a Russian village located near the border, causing 1 death and 13 injuries. They were allegedly carried out by dissident Russian groups, and Ukraine has denied any responsibility for these operations.
One of these breakthroughs was claimed by the “Freedom Legion of Russia”, identified by Russian investigative media as close to Russian imperialist and nationalist nebulae. A second group was reportedly led by far-right activist Denis Kapoustine. This opponent of Vladimir Putin has settled in Ukraine since the start of the war, in 2021.
The purpose of this operation is, according to soldiers interviewed, to carry out sabotage actions, but also to push the Russian forces to move their troops. The fighters would be about thirty, and would have spent about 24 hours on Russian territory, before returning to Ukraine. According to Moscow, the incursion was stopped by Russian artillery and air force, which eliminated “more than 70 Ukrainian terrorists”, while the fighters in question claim to have two wounded in their ranks.
Russian planes spotted near Japanese coast
Japan launched fighters on Thursday after spotting two Russian reconnaissance planes near its coast. One of the aircraft was in the Pacific Ocean, while the second was flying over the China Sea. This is not the first time that such an incident has taken place. But this comes a few days after the surprise visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the G7 summit in Hiroshima. During the meeting, all members of the group reaffirmed their support for kyiv in the face of the Russian invasion.
Relations between the two countries are relatively cold. Japan regards Russian military power in the Far East and its cooperation with China as a serious threat to the security of its territory. Russia, meanwhile, classifies Japan as a “hostile” country, along with all the countries of the European Union, the United States and other of its allies like the United Kingdom and the Australia.