Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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Lukashenko says Belarusian planes are ready to carry nuclear weapons

Lukashenko is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Alexander Nemenov | AFP | Getty Images

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said the Eastern European country’s SU-24 fighter jets had been refitted to carry nuclear armaments.

Lukashenko said Belarus had agreed the move with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Belarus is a close ally of Moscow and allowed Russia to use its territory to invade Ukraine.

“God forbid, a serious provocation against Belarus is happening, our targets are locked. Decision-making centers. We know them,” Lukashenko told reporters, according to the Belarusian state news agency Belta.

“If they start creating problems, Belarus’ situation may be worse, but the response will be instantaneous,” he added.

—Sam Meredith

Ukraine says all reactors at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are still disconnected

Ukrainian nuclear company Energoatom says all six reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine are still disconnected from the country’s power grid, Reuters reported.

The company added that there are currently no issues with the plant’s machinery or its safety systems.

—Sam Meredith

Zelenskyy says the world narrowly avoided a radioactive disaster

Zelenskyy says the world narrowly escaped a radioactive catastrophe on Thursday when Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid.

Xinhua News Agency | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the world narrowly escaped a radioactive disaster on Thursday when Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid.

Zelenskyy said it was only thanks to emergency electricity that the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia power plant was able to operate safely. He said the power plant was cut off following Russian bombardment causing fires nearby, allegations the Kremlin has denied.

“Emergency protection of generators worked – after the last line of work for the return of electricity from the power plant to the Ukrainian power system was damaged by Russian shelling,” Zelenskyy said in an evening speech. .

He called on the international community to help force Russian forces to withdraw from the plant immediately, warning that “every minute Russian troops remain at the nuclear power plant poses a risk of global radioactive disaster.”

—Sam Meredith

‘The world is experiencing the worst food security crisis we have ever seen,’ says US ambassador to UN

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks to the media after a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation between Russia and Ukraine, at United Nations headquarters in Manhattan , New York, USA, February 17, 2022.

Carlos Allegri | Reuters

The world “is experiencing the worst food security crisis we have ever seen,” said US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

The current food crisis was triggered by Covid-19, strained supply lines, higher energy costs and rising temperatures, she said.

“In many conflicts around the world, food is intentionally blocked or destroyed and dictators use starvation as a weapon of war,” Thomas-Greenfield said in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“We don’t see this any more clearly than with Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Before the war, Russia and Ukraine accounted for almost a quarter of world grain exports. But now the Ukraine’s once-rolling wheat fields have become battlefields,” she said, lambasting Moscow’s arming. of food.

“It matters because it affects us economically. Food security is directly linked to economic growth. And it matters because food insecurity leads us to political and social instability. danger,” she said.

—Amanda Macias

Biden talks with Zelensky about more help defending against Russia

President Joe Biden speaking to Vladimir Putin from the White House, December 30, 2021.

Source: White House Photo

President Joe Biden called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to congratulate him on Ukraine’s Independence Day.

Biden also “expressed his admiration for the people of Ukraine, who have inspired the world in defending the sovereignty of their country over the past six months,” according to a reading of the White House appeal.

The President reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to support Ukraine and provided an update on additional military assistance.

“The two leaders also called on Russia to return full control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to Ukraine and for access of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the IAEA,” the statement added.

—Amanda Macias

Putin signs a decree to increase the size of the Russian army

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mikhail Klimentiev | AFP | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to increase the size of Russia’s military from 1.9 million to 2.04 million, an announcement on his government web portal said, as the war in Ukraine crosses the six-mark mark month.

The order will come into effect on January 1 and will see an increase in combat personnel from 137,000 to 1.15 million.

Russia has steadily expanded its network to find out who it is willing to recruit as conscripts, including prisoners, retired military personnel, older men and those with only a high school diploma. Putin expected the invasion, which the Kremlin calls its “special military operation“, to last only a few days before taking the capital Kyiv.

The Russian military instead lost several generals, and US intelligence estimates it lost around 15,000 military personnel, although Moscow itself has not released any recent figures on military casualties.

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev attends a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Alexandrovsky Garden near the Kremlin wall in Moscow on June 22, 2022.

Yekaterina Shtukina | AFP | Getty Images

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