Here is the situation as it stands on Monday, March 27, 2023:
- After Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to ally Belarus, Ukraine has called for an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council to “take decisive measures” to prevent Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.
- Russia “took Belarus as a nuclear hostage”, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, has written on Twitter.
- NATO has condemned the move, blasting it as “dangerous and irresponsible”.
- The European Union has warned Belarus against hosting Russian nuclear weapons, saying it was an “irresponsible escalation and threat to European security”.
- Germany has also condemned Putin’s decision, while Lithuania said it would call for new sanctions against Moscow and Minsk.
- The United States, however, has reacted cautiously to Putin’s move, with a senior administration official saying Washington estimates there are no indications that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons.
- UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Saturday he will visit the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine next week to assess the serious situation there.
- In the United Kingdom, Ukrainian fans turned a section of London’s Wembley Stadium to the blue and yellow of their country’s flag as they watched their team play England in an emotional Euro 2024 qualifier.
- Choirs from across the world have joined their voices to sing for peace in Ukraine, with nearly 300 singers gathering in Madrid, Spain, where the initiative began a year ago.
- Fighting is still ongoing in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, but Kyiv’s top soldier, General Valerii Zaluzhniy, said the situation in the area was stabilising.
- Separately, the UK defence ministry has also said Russia’s months-long assault on Bakhmut had stalled, mainly as a result of heavy troop losses.
- Ukraine’s General Staff has said that its forces had repelled 85 Russian attacks over the past 24 hours in several parts of the eastern front, including the Bakhmut area.
- Russia has reported a drone strike on the southern Russian town of Kireyevsk, saying three people were wounded in the attack. The TASS state news agency said the drone was a Ukrainian Tupolev Tu-141 Strizh packed with explosives.
- More than 5,000 former criminals have been forgiven after finishing their contracts to fight in Russia’s Wagner mercenary group against Ukraine, the group’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said on Saturday.
- Tension is mounting at a prominent Orthodox monastery complex in Kyiv called the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, where the monks are facing eviction later this month. The Ukrainian government has been cracking down on the country’s Orthodox Church over its ties to the Russian Orthodox Church and its leader Patriarch Kirill, who has supported Putin in the invasion of Ukraine.
- Kyiv will no longer resort to “dangerous” monetary financing to fund the war against Russia, its central bank Governor Andriy Pyshnyi says.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies