The Ukraine update: what happened last night
Lukashenko: A phone call to Putin is enough to use nuclear weapons
The ruler in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has threatened the West with the use of nuclear weapons. In the event of war, he could call Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at any time, Lukashenko said on Russian television on Tuesday. “What’s the problem, tuning a shot like that? That’s not a question at all.” In March, Putin announced that Russian nuclear weapons would be stationed in Belarus. However, these remained under Russia’s control, the Kremlin chief assured.
The nuclear weapons would be needed to protect Belarus from attack. For years, the West has been trying to tear the country apart, Lukashenko claimed. But Belarus can no longer be attacked with nuclear weapons. “The bombs are three times more powerful than the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” said the 68-year-old, who has ruled Minsk since 1994. “About a million people die instantly. God forbid us to use this weapon,” Lukashenko said.
Belarus is Russia’s closest ally and has also lent its territory to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. After voluntarily giving up its nuclear weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country has received nuclear missiles for the first time since the 1990s. Iskander missiles, which can be equipped with nuclear warheads, are to be stationed. Several Belarusian fighter planes were also converted to the new weapons.
At least three dead in Russian missile attack on Odessa
At least three people were killed and 13 others injured in a new Russian attack with cruise missiles on the Ukrainian port city of Odessa on the Black Sea, authorities said.
A Kalibr projectile struck a storage building and started a fire there, the high command of the Ukrainian Army Group South wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. Three camp workers were killed and seven injured. People could still be lying under the rubble of the camp.
A total of four Kalibr cruise missiles were shot down, the high command in Odessa said. As a result of a dogfight and a blast wave, a business center, an education building, a residential complex, a diner and shops in the city center were damaged. According to the first findings, six were injured, it said.
Putin does not consider new mobilization necessary
Russian President Vladimir Putin called martial law in Russia unnecessary. “Declaring any special regime like martial law across the country makes no sense at all, there is no need for it today,” said the Kremlin chief. The question arose because of the increasing shelling of Russia’s Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine. According to Putin, the attacks from the Ukrainian side served as a diversion to force Russia to withdraw military forces there from the front. There are currently no Ukrainian soldiers there.
According to Putin, a new wave of mobilization is not necessary in Russia either. He justified this with the allegedly high number of volunteer army applicants. More than 150,000 Russians have signed contracts as contract soldiers in the military since January, the head of state said.
Putin threatens Ukraine with building distant ‘sanitary zone’
After the drone attacks against the capital Moscow and other major cities, Putin also promised better protection through air defense. It is not an easy but solvable task, he said. So far, air defense has been geared more towards missiles and aircraft and less towards the light, small flying objects, said Putin. The drone attacks had caused severe damage to buildings.
Russia itself attacks neighboring Ukraine almost daily with drones. From Kiev it was said behind closed doors that nobody in Moscow should be surprised if some drones wanted to go home again. Officially, however, Ukraine denies having anything to do with the attacks.
Putin also threatened the neighboring country with even more severe attacks if the shelling of Russian state and border areas did not stop. Russia could create a “sanitary zone” so far away that its territory would no longer be accessible from Ukraine. What exactly he meant by that, Putin did not say.
Zelenskyj calls for anti-aircraft defense and sanctions after rocket fire
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for stronger anti-aircraft defenses for Ukraine and tougher sanctions against Russia after the deadly Russian missile attack on his hometown of Kryvyi Rih. “Together with our partners, we must create such conditions that Russian terrorism becomes impossible,” he said in his daily video address on Tuesday evening. Firstly, the purchase of even more air defense systems and fighter jets would be necessary, secondly, the sanctions against Russia would have to be enforced more consistently.
“If we take, for example, one of the rockets that hit Kryvyi Rih today, then about 50 components in it – mainly microelectronics – were made in other countries,” Zelenskyy said. Some of them are even produced in Ukraine’s partner countries, and yet Russia manages to get hold of the components. The companies that work with Moscow are known.
“If someone acts as an intermediary or works with Russia to allow terrorists to continue blowing up houses and killing people, then such actors – corporate or state – deserve an appropriate response from the world,” Zelenskyy said. In any case, it is cheaper to enforce the sanctions than to constantly deliver new missile defense systems.
What will be important on Wednesday:
After his visit to Kiev, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, wants to visit the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, which is occupied by Russian troops, to get an up-to-date picture of the situation after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam. The nuclear power plant is located on the reservoir and also draws its cooling water from the Dnipro.
Meanwhile, the progress of the Ukrainian offensive to recapture occupied areas in the south of the country is being closely followed both in Kiev and in Moscow.