Putin warns NATO’s nuclear capability can't be ignored; future world order is being decided, Russia says

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine on Feb.27, 2023. See here for the latest updates. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow has to take into account NATO's nuclear capabilities as he again falsely claimed that the West wants to eliminate Russia.

"Where the leading NATO countries have proclaimed their main goal to be the strategic defeat of Russia, in order for our people 'to suffer' as they put it, how, in these conditions, could we not take into account their nuclear potential?," Putin asked during an interview with Pavel Zarubin on the Rossiya-1 TV channel on Sunday, according to an NBC translation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony while visiting the Mamayev Kurgan, a memorial complex commemorating the heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad on Feb. 2, 2023, in Volgograd, Russia.
Getty Images News | Getty Images

Putin said the West is complicit in "crimes" being committed by Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons and that the end goal is to destroy and divide Russia.

Echoing that sentiment on Monday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the West wanted to "isolate, and even dismember" Russia and added that the future world order is being decided.

Meanwhile, Ukraine received support and financial aid from an unlikely source this weekend: Saudi Arabia. The kingdom, a close ally of Russia given their ties as major oil producers, sent its foreign minister to Kyiv on Sunday to sign an agreement and memorandum of understanding worth $400 million of aid to Ukraine.

Ukraine's envoy to Japan says he's optimistic Kishida will visit Kyiv before May

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will likely visit Ukraine's capital before the G-7 Hiroshima Summit, Ukraine's ambassador to Japan, Sergiy Korsunsky, told CNBC in an interview.

Korsunsky's comments come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended a virtual G-7 leaders' meeting Friday on Kishida's invitation as the world marked one year of the war in Ukraine.

Following U.S. President Joe Biden's surprise visit, Kishida is the only leader left among the Group of Seven who has not visited Ukraine since Russia invaded last year.

Read the full story here.

– Jihye Lee

Three ships left Ukraine’s port under Black Sea Grain Initiative

A ship carrying wheat from Ukraine to Afghanistan after inspection in the open sea around Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, Turkiye on January 24, 2023.
TUR Ministry of National Defence | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Three ships carrying about 144,377 metric tons of grain and other food products left Ukraine's Chornomorsk port, the organization overseeing the export of agriculture from the country said.

The vessels are destined for Japan, Tunisia and the Netherlands are carrying corn.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, eased Russia's naval blockade and saw three key Ukrainian ports reopen.

So far, more than 770 ships have sailed from Ukrainian ports.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian Railways CEO says national rail system had 'best-ever day' amid Russia's war

Ukrainian Railways CEO Alexander Kamyshin said the country's railroad system had "another best-ever day for passenger trains."

About 96% of the trains departed on schedule and 99% of the trains arrived on schedule.

Last week Kamyshin apologized for some of the trains running behind but added that the delays were due to U.S. President Joe Biden's secret trip to Kyiv.

In a Twitter thread, Kamyshin described the project to bring Biden safely to Kyiv as "complicated" but added that it "was an honor and a privilege." He also dubbed the train that Biden traveled in "Rail Force One" to play off of the transportation typically used by U.S. presidents.

— Amanda Macias

China has not yet provided Russia with weapons for the Kremlin's war in Ukraine, White House says

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 10, 2023.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The White House said it has not yet seen China supply Russia with weapons for the war in Ukraine.

"We haven't seen the Chinese make a decision to move in that direction," National security council spokesman John Kirby said when asked about any potential weapons transfers.

"I'm not going to get in a hypothetical here and speculate," Kirby added, declining to elaborate on potential U.S. retaliatory actions.

"Every country has to make its own decision here, and we have been exceedingly clear with the Chinese," Kirby said, adding that it is the hope of the Biden administration that Beijing "not make it any easier for Mr. Putin to kill Ukrainians."

— Amanda Macias

Russian reconnaissance aircraft damaged after explosion in Belarus, Ukraine says

Russia's President Vladimir Putin takes part in the opening ceremony of new hospitals in Russian regions via a video link at a residence outside Moscow, Russia, February 15, 2023.
Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | via Reuters

Yuri Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, said that a Russian A-50 reconnaissance aircraft was damaged by an explosion at an airfield in Belarus.

"This is good news for Ukraine, what else is there to say here," Ihnat said, according to an NBC News translation.

"This aircraft is constantly in the air conducting radar reconnaissance, scanning the territory when our air defense equipment is operating, detecting their location, monitoring the take-off, landing and directions of movement of our aircraft," he added.

— Amanda Macias

China accuses US of ‘bullying’ with new ‘illegal’ sanctions

A repainted mural depicting the logo of Russia's Wagner Group on a wall in Belgrade, Serbia, on Jan. 19, 2023.
Darko Vojinovic | AP

China accused the U.S. of "outright bullying and double standards" in leveling what it called "illegal" sanctions on Chinese companies as part of U.S. actions against Russia's Wagner Group and related companies and individuals.

The entities were targeted for their role in the war in Ukraine and mercenary activities, including human rights abuses, in Africa.

The sanctions "have no basis in international law or authorization from the Security Council, and are typical illegal unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily briefing.

The punitive measures were "seriously harming China's interests" and China "strongly rejects and deplores that and has lodged solemn complaints with the U.S. side," Mao said.

"While the U.S. has intensified its efforts to send weapons to one of the parties to the conflict, resulting in an endless war, it has frequently spread false information about China's supply of weapons to Russia, taking the opportunity to sanction Chinese companies for no reason," she said. "This is outright bullying and double standards."

Wagner, a private Russian military company, has been involved in heavy fighting in the east of Ukraine.

The sanctions also hit the Chinese company Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute Co. Ltd., also known as Spacety China, which has supplied Wagner Group affiliates with satellite imagery of Ukraine that support Wagner's military operations there. A Luxembourg-based subsidiary of Spacety China was also targeted.

— Associated Press

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has 'effectively paralyzed' the Security Council, UN official warns

Representatives vote during a UN Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, on Feb. 15, 2023. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Wednesday to renew Yemen sanctions measures of asset freeze and travel ban until Nov. 15, 2023.
Eskinder Debebe | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Csaba Korosi, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, warned that Russia's actions in Ukraine have "effectively paralyzed" the work of the Security Council.

Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, which is based in New York City and serves as the U.N. arm tasked with maintaining peace and security. Russia also holds veto power in the Security Council which can hamper any decision-making in regard to supporting Ukraine.

Korosi added that "aggression by a permanent member of the Security Council against a neighboring state" has put the Security Council and the wider General Assembly at a "crossroads."

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces train near Chernobyl

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces gather during their military training on Monday near Chernobyl, Ukraine.

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces rest on an armored vehicle during a military training on February 27, 2023 near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Russia's large-scale assault on Ukraine has entered its second year, with the fiercest fighting concentrated in the country's east and south. 
Roman Pilipey | Getty Images
Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces gather during their military training on February 27, 2023 near Chernobyl, Ukraine
Roman Pilipey | Getty Images
Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces rest on an armored vehicle during a military training on February 27, 2023 near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Russia's large-scale assault on Ukraine has entered its second year, with the fiercest fighting concentrated in the country's east and south. (Photo by Roman Pilipey/Getty Images)
Roman Pilipey | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces rest on an armored vehicle during a military training on February 27, 2023 near Chernobyl, Ukraine. 
Roman Pilipey | Getty Images News | Getty Images

— Roman Pilipey | Getty Images

U.S. Treasury Secretary Yellen makes surprise visit to Kyiv

US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen (R) and US ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink look at destroyed Russian military vehicles displayed in an open air exhibition during their visit to Kyiv on February 27, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made a surprise trip to Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

While in Kyiv, Yellen announced the first transfer of $1.25 billion out of a promised $9.9 billion in U.S. aid to be provided over the first three quarters of 2023.

US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen lays flowers to a Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine in the Russian-Ukrainian War during her visit to Kyiv on February 27, 2013, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

"I bring to Kyiv a clear message from President Biden and the American people: We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes," Yellen said in during a bilateral meeting with Zelenskyy, according to a readout provided by Treasury.

She also discussed additional efforts to degrade Russia's ability to finance its war machine.

— Amanda Macias

UN chief blames Russia for triggering 'the most massive violations of human rights' in the world

War crime prosecutor of Kharkiv Oblast stands with forensic technician and policeman at the site of a mass burial in a forest during exhumation on September 16, 2022 in Izium, Ukraine.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii | Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres blamed Russia for triggering "the most massive violations of human rights" in the world today.

The Russian invasion "has unleashed widespread death, destruction and displacement," Guterres said in a speech before the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

He cited cases of sexual violence, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention and violations of the rights of prisoners of war, all of which have been documented by the U.N. human rights office.

Earlier this month, Ukraine's prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said that regional authorities have logged more than 65,000 Russian war crimes since Moscow invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago.

— Amanda Macias

More than 8,000 civilians have died in Ukraine, United Nations says

This photo taken on February 25, 2023, shows an Orthodox icon near empty graves after the exhumation of bodies from mass graves dug during the Russian's occupation in the town of Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Anatolii Stepanov | Afp | Getty Images

At least 8,101 civilians have died and 13,479 have been injured in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor a year ago, according to the United Nations.

Last week, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said that about 90% of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area. He added the actual figures are likely substantially higher because armed conflict can delay fatality reports.

— Amanda Macias

Russia going through more missiles than it can produce, Ukrainian intelligence says

In image from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Oct. 26, 2022, a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile is test-fired as part of Russia's nuclear drills from a launch site in Plesetsk, northwestern Russia.
Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

Ukraine's military intelligence has been observing a change in the way Russia uses missiles in the war, an official claimed Monday.

Speaking to news outlet RBC-Ukraine, spokesman for the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense Andriy Chernyak said intelligence officials had noticed two notable changes in Russian tactics.

"First, they really learn from their mistakes. Second, they run out not only of high-precision missiles, but of missile weapons in general," Chernyak said, according to a Google translation of his comments.

He added that "the Russian Federation still has thousands of missiles in stock, but they are running out of them much faster than they are able to produce," although he didn't cite any evidence for his claim.

Defense analysts generally agree that it's hard to determine how many missiles Russia has left. Chernyak said Russia was not able to produce more than 30-40 missiles per month and that the "old missiles they have in service either fail due to a malfunction or have a limited strike range."

—  Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine jails two Russian army soldiers for shelling of residential areas

A Ukrainian court has jailed two captured soldiers accused of taking part on Russian shelling of residential areas in eastern Ukraine, the SBU security service said on Monday.

The SBU said in a statement that one of the soldiers had received a 10-year sentence and the other had been jailed for nine years.

It did not name them, say how they had pleaded and when they were sentenced, but said both had fought in eastern Ukraine and were captured last year.

"As a result of investigative actions, indisputable evidence on the guilt of two more militants who joined the ranks of the occupation groups of the aggressor country at the beginning of the full-scale invasion was collected," it said.

Both "took an active part in the storming of Ukrainian cities on the Eastern Front", it said.

It said one had started fighting for Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and fought for the Russian army in the Bakhmut area of eastern Ukraine last year.

The other was in charge of Russian troops that shelled the eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine, and was captured along with a number of his subordinates, it said.

They were found guilty under laws on the encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine, and on participation in paramilitary or armed formations not provided for by law, the SBU added.

Moscow has denied that Russian forces deliberately target civilians although civilian areas have repeatedly come under fire since Russia's invasion a year ago and towns across Ukraine have been badly damaged or destroyed.

— Reuters

Kremlin says China's peace plans 'deserve attention'

Men wearing military uniform walk along Red Square in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in central Moscow on February 13, 2023.
Alexander Nemenov | Afp | Getty Images

A peace plan put forward by China that it believes could resolve the Ukraine war should be given attention, the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.

"Any attempts to develop plans that will help transfer the conflict to a peaceful course deserve attention," Peskov told reporters, Russian news agency Ria Novosti said.

"We treat the plan of our Chinese friends with great attention. As for the details, of course, the details should be the subject of careful analysis, taking into account the interests of the parties," he added.

Russia counts China among the last of its powerful international allies, having burned bridges with much of the global community following its invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

On the first anniversary of the war last Friday, China called for a comprehensive ceasefire in Ukraine and promoted its own 12-point peace plan that called for a cessation of hostilities, the sovereignty of all countries to be respected, warned against the use of nuclear weapons, and called for nuclear power plants to be kept safe as well as calling for a Cold War mentality to be abandoned.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was open to considering parts of Beijing's proposed peace plan.

—  Holly Ellyatt

Russian forces control all roads into Bakhmut, official claims

Russian forces are now in control of all the roads leading into the Donetsk city of Bakhmut, according to a spokesperson for pro-Russian separatists in the region.

Yan Gagin, an advisor and spokesperson for the acting head of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, a pro-Russian separatist area in eastern Ukraine, told the Tass news agency that Russian forces had cut off the supply of the Ukrainian forces in Artemovsk (the Russian name for Bakhmut).

"Artemovsk [Bakhmut] has finally fallen into a classic operational environment, our forces completely control the roads leading to the city. The supply of ammunition to the garrison of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been disrupted and stopped, the rotation and supply of replenishment of manpower has been stopped," he said, in comments translated by Google.

A woman crosses a destroyed bridge in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, on Jan. 6, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine have both suffered heavy losses in the fight for Bakhmut, and most of the city's pre-war population of 70,000 have left for safer territory, leaving behind cratered roads and buildings reduced to rubble and twisted metal.
Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the claims but the comments are the latest in a string of claims made by Russian officials that Bakhmut is coming under their control.

Ukraine and Russian forces have been engaged in fierce fighting around Bakhmut for months, turning the city and surrounding area into a landscape of death and devastation. Both forces claim that the other side is losing hundreds of soldiers every day because of fighting around Bakhmut.

Russian forces have been seen to have slowly encircled the city, prompting the question of whether Ukraine would choose to tactically withdraw from the city in order to save its remaining troops.

Kyiv's top general visited the front-line town of Bakhmut on Sunday and on Monday. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in an update Monday that "the Russian army continues to keep its main efforts on the offensive actions in the directions of Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Shakhtarsk." It said that, over the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian army had repelled 81 attacks in those areas.

— Holly Ellyatt

Turkey's NATO talks with Sweden and Finland to resume on March 9

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that talks with Sweden and Finland regarding their NATO membership bids would resume on March 9, after being suspended in January in the wake of a Koran-burning protest in Stockholm.

Turkey had previously cancelled a trilateral mechanism with Sweden and Finland on their applications to join NATO after Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm in January.

"My colleagues will attend the meeting that will be held on March 9," Cavusoglu told a press conference in Ankara, adding that the meeting would be held in Brussels.

But he said Sweden was still not fulfilling its obligations under the memorandum signed at a NATO summit in Madrid last June, even though NATO's secretary-general and other allies have said Stockholm has changed its legislation.

"Unfortunately, we have not seen satisfactory steps from Sweden on the implementation of the Madrid memorandum," Cavusoglu said. "It is not possible for us to say "yes" to Sweden's NATO bid before we see these steps."

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the North Atlantic defense alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine, but Sweden in particular has faced unexpected objections from Turkey.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (pictured here in 2017) said Tuesday that NATO does not seek to provoke conflict but to prevent it, and said there would be no NATO troops in Finland without the country's consent.

Ankara accuses Stockholm of harbouring what it considers members of terrorist groups, and has demanded their extradition as a step towards giving Sweden's NATO membership its green light.

The United States and other NATO countries are hoping that the two Nordic countries become members of the alliance at a NATO summit due to be held in July 11 in Lithuania's capital Vilnius. While Ankara has signaled it could approve Finland, it has given no assurances that it will give Sweden's bid the green light by then.

— Reuters

Future world order is being decided now, Russia's foreign minister says

Speaking at a conference of regional representatives of his ministry on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that "at the moment, the configuration of the future world order is being decided."
Pavel Bednyakov | Sputnik | Reuters

The future world order is being decided right now, Russia's foreign minister said Monday, adding that Moscow has frustrated the West's plans "to isolate, and even dismember" the country. 

Speaking at a conference of regional representatives of his ministry on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that "at the moment, the configuration of the future world order is being decided."

"[This determines] Russia's place in the democratic, fair, polycentric system that is being formed now and for which there is no and cannot be an alternative," he said according to comments reported by news agency Tass.

"I want to emphasize that we managed not only to disrupt the plans of the collective West to isolate, and even dismember Russia, but also to ensure ongoing cooperation with the overwhelming majority of members of the international community. We now call it the world majority," he said in comments translated by Google.

Lavrov cited closer ties with countries like China and India and "many other international partners" including post-Soviet states like Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and the BRICS nations (which include Brazil and South Africa).

Lavrov's comments parrot similar remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday in which he said the West wants to defeat and divide Russia.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine praises Saudi Arabia's support after $400 million aid pledge

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud arrives for joint press conference with head of the office of the president of Ukraine and foreign minister of Ukraine in Kyiv on Feb. 26, 2023.
Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Saudi Arabia on Sunday following a high-level diplomatic visit that saw the Middle Eastern kingdom, an ally of Russia given their oil production ties, pledge a $400 million aid package to Ukraine.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Andriy Yermak, head of the office of the president of Ukraine, were present at a ceremony in which an agreement and memorandum of understanding worth $400 million of aid to Ukraine, which Saudi Arabia initially pledged last October, were signed.

The agreement includes a joint cooperation program for providing humanitarian assistance from the Kingdom to Ukraine worth $100 million, Saudi's state press agency said.

"The signing of the agreement and the MoU reflects the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's commitment to supporting Ukraine and its people in facing the social and economic challenges that the country is going through and contributing to alleviating the effects resulting from it," the agency added.

Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Sunday that he had a good meeting with the kingdom's foreign minister, the first high-level official visit by a representative of Saudi Arabia.

"Of course, we are working on a higher level of visits and relations. But now we have finally reached an interaction," Zelenskyy said.

"This ... brings concrete and sensitive results for Ukrainians, in particular with regard to the release of prisoners of war. I thank our Saudi partners for their cooperation and assistance," he added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Mariupol explosions likely to be unnerving Russia, UK says

A Russian serviceman guarding an area near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine, on June 13, 2022.
Yuri Kadobnov | AFP | Getty Images

A series of recent, unexplained explosions in Mariupol, a southern port city in Ukraine that Russia seized last May after a prolonged siege, is likely to be alarming Russia, according to Britain's Ministry of Defense.

"Since 21 February 2023, pro-Russian officials have reported at least 14 explosions around the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol," the ministry said in an intelligence update on Twitter Monday.

"Sites of the incidents have included an ammo cache at the airport, two fuel depots, and a steel works that Russia uses as a military base," the ministry added, noting that the explosions have taken place despite Mariupol being at least 50 miles away from the front line.

"Although widely devastated earlier in the war, Mariupol is important to Russia because it is the largest city Russia captured in 2022 that it still controls, and sits on a key logistics route."

The ministry noted that Russia "will likely be concerned that unexplained explosions are occurring in a zone it had probably previously assessed as beyond the range of routine Ukrainian strike capabilities."

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine hit by more drone attacks overnight

Ukraine's air force said the country was targeted by a series of drone attacks overnight.

"On the night of February 27, the enemy attacked Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed-type attack drones from the north," the Air Force said in a Telegram update Monday.

It said up to 14 unmanned aerial vehicles were launched and that air defense teams destroyed 11 of them.

Parts of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles): Orlan-10, Granat-3 , Shahed-136, Eleron-3-SV, used by the Russia against Ukraine, are seen during a media briefing of the Security and Defense Forces of Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine on 15 December 2022.
Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Russia has unleashed multiple drone strikes on Ukraine, with much of the country's energy infrastructure damaged by drone attacks. Iran initially denied supplying drones to Russia but in November it acknowledged for the first time that it supplied Moscow with the UAVs, but said they had been sent to Russia before the war in Ukraine.

— Holly Ellyatt

Belarusian partisans say Russian military aircraft damaged near Minsk

A Russian A-50 surveillance military aircraft was damaged in a drone attack at an airfield near the Belarus capital of Minsk on Sunday, Belarus partisans and members of the exiled opposition said.

"Those were drones. The participants of the operation are Belarusian," Aliaksandr Azarov, leader of Belarusian anti-government organization BYPOL, was quoted as saying on the organisation's Telegram messaging app and on the Poland-based Belsat news channel.

"They are now safe, outside the country."

Belsat is a Polish broadcaster focused on Belarusian news that Minsk has branded extremist. BYPOL, which includes former law enforcement officers who support opposition politicians, has been branded a terrorist organization.

Franak Viacorka, an adviser to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said in a post on Twitter it was the most successful act of sabotage since the beginning of 2022.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports. There was no immediate response from the defence ministries of Russia and Belarus to a request for comment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the Palace of Independence on Dec. 19, 2022, in Minsk, Belarus.
Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Front and central parts of the aircraft as well as the radar antenna were damaged as a result of two explosions in the attack at the Machulishchy air base near Minsk, BYPOL reported.

The Beriev A-50 aircraft, which has the NATO reporting name of Mainstay, is a Russian airborne early warning aircraft, with airborne command and control capabilities, and the ability to track up to 60 targets at a time.

Since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine a year ago, there have been several acts of sabotage in Belarus and in Russian regions bordering Ukraine, especially on the railway system.

— Reuters

Russia has to take into account NATO's nuclear capability, Putin says

Putin said the West is complicit in "crimes" being committed by Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons and that the end goal is to destroy and divide Russia.
Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow has to take into account NATO's nuclear capabilities and claimed again that the West wants to eliminate Russia.

"Where the leading NATO countries have proclaimed their main goal to be the strategic defeat of Russia, in order for our people 'to suffer' as they put it, how, in these conditions, could we not take into account their nuclear potential?," Putin asked during an interview with Pavel Zarubin on the Rossiya-1 TV channel on Sunday, according to an NBC translation.

Putin said the West is complicit in "crimes" being committed by Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons and that the end goal is to destroy and divide Russia.

"They have one goal – to destroy what was the Soviet Union and it's central part – the Russian Federation. After that they may indeed accept us into the so-called "family of civilized nations", but only separately, each part separately. Why? To order around these parts and to put them under their control," Putin said, claiming that plans to destroy the Russian people are "on paper," without presenting evidence.

Putin has repeatedly blamed the West for starting the conflict in Ukraine. In a speech last week ahead of the first anniversary of the start of the war, Putin tried to justify Russia's invasion by claiming it has been attempting to allow citizens in the contested Donbas region in eastern Ukraine to speak their "own language."

— Holly Ellyatt