US Intelligence: Russian Nuclear Weapons in Belarus
The US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has “no reason to doubt” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that the first shipment of nuclear weapons has been sent to Belarus. This was stated by senior officials in the Ministry of the Interior, on Friday, according to what was reported by the American news site “CNN”.
Last month, Putin said at an economic forum in Saint Petersburg that “the first nuclear warheads have been delivered to the territory of Belarus,” adding that they were placed there for “deterrence.” According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia has more than 4,477 warheads, including about 1,900 tactical nuclear weapons, according to CNN.
According to CNN, it is not clear how much of this arsenal Putin intends to transfer, and US and Western agencies have not publicly confirmed the transfer of any Russian weapons to Belarus. But senior CIA officials said on Friday that analysts had “no reason” to doubt Putin’s claims. They also had no reason to suspect that they had succeeded in handing over the weapons.
Officials declined to say why. They acknowledged that it is difficult for US intelligence to track the weapons, even with satellite imagery, according to CNN. US officials told a US news site earlier this month that Belarus did not appear to have finished upgrading storage facilities necessary to house tactical nuclear weapons.
South Africa will arrest Putin if he enters the country
The South African government will arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he enters the country. This was stated in an affidavit from the South African Ministry of Justice, which was published on Friday by the opposition Democratic Alliance party.
After months of uncertainty, South Africa and Russia announced earlier this week that Putin would not travel to South Africa for the BRICS summit, which will be held in Johannesburg from August 22-24. However, Putin will participate via videoconference in the meeting of the group, which, in addition to Russia and South Africa, includes Brazil, India and China.
Putin’s virtual engagement avoided a difficult dilemma for South Africa. After all, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant against Putin, and as a member of the ICC, South Africa is theoretically obligated to arrest Putin as soon as he enters the territory.
However, South Africa maintains its neutral stance and has never condemned Russia for invading Ukraine. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has also remained vague in recent months about whether his country would actually arrest Putin if he entered the country.
The Democratic Alliance, together with human rights group Amnesty International, then filed a lawsuit with the Pretoria High Court to force the government to arrest Putin in such a case. Meanwhile, Amnesty International South Africa’s regional director described the ministry’s statement as “a victory for the rule of law and international justice, especially for the victims in Ukraine”.
Zelensky spoke with Erdogan about the future of the grain deal
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has spoken with his Turkish counterpart and mediator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, about relaunching the international grain deal after Russia withdrew from the deal earlier this week.
“Reopening the grain corridor is an absolute priority,” Zelensky said in Kiev on Friday evening, after a phone call with his Turkish counterpart. “Together we must prevent a global food crisis,” he said.
Russia’s withdrawal from the deal on Monday prompted a new naval blockade, in part because Moscow no longer wanted to offer security guarantees to grain ships passing through parts of the Black Sea under Russian control.
“Because of Russia, the world is once again on the verge of a food crisis. All in all, about 400 million people in many African and Asian countries are threatened with starvation,” Zelensky said.
The grain deal, which Turkey and the United Nations brokered a year ago, made it possible to export grain from Ukraine across the Black Sea despite the war. Grain sales provided Ukraine – one of the world’s largest producers – with important revenue, but they were also important in ensuring the global food supply.
The United States confirms that Wagner’s army is no longer fighting in Ukraine
Wagner’s mercenary army is not currently fighting in Ukraine. So said Jake Sullivan, the White House National Security Adviser. So Sullivan confirms on Friday a video message to the same effect that Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin sent to the world on Wednesday.
“What is happening now at the front is a disgrace that we do not have to participate in,” Prigozhin said in a video posted on Telegram. It’s not entirely certain if the man in the video was actually Prigozhin, but the voice certainly sounded like his own.
Prigozhin, who lives with his men in Belarus, instructs his soldiers to join forces and prepare for battle in Africa. Wagner’s mercenaries have been active there for years.
Putin threatens Warsaw after the Polish forces move to the eastern border
Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken out against Poland in the wake of Warsaw’s decision to send troops to its eastern border with Belarus, Moscow’s ally in the war with Ukraine.
“Belarus is part of the union state (Russia and Belarus). To launch aggression against Belarus would be tantamount to aggression against the Russian Federation. We will respond to this with all the means at our disposal,” Putin said at a meeting of the National Security Council on Friday.
Poland, a NATO member state, announced earlier today that it plans to deploy an as yet unknown number of soldiers to the east. Thus, Warsaw responds to the presence of Wagner’s mercenaries in neighboring Belarus.
Putin has previously accused Poland – without any evidence – of planning to occupy areas in western Ukraine. Propaganda in Russia often claims without any basis that Poland, a close ally of Ukraine, has plans to expand its territory.
Putin now argued that Poland should not forget that the acquisition of German lands in the West after World War II was a “gift from Stalin”. This statement is not historically accurate. After World War II, the Allies and the Soviet Union decided to divide up the map of Europe. Poland gained lands in the west that had been part of Germany for hundreds of years, but the Soviet Union took over parts of Poland in the east that had long been Polish territory.
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