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Russia’s war in Ukraine: live updates

4:35 am Eastern Time, April 1, 2023

Russian plan to send nukes to Belarus shows Putin-Xi talks failed, says Zelensky

From CNN’s Allegra Goodwin

President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to local residents in the town of Bucha on Friday.

(Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters)

Russia’s stated plan to place nuclear weapons in Belarus It is proof that talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this month failed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday.

Although China seemed to have Position yourself as a peace broker between Russia and Ukraine in the weeks leading up to Xi’s three-day state visit to Moscow, meetings between the two leaders produced no significant progress in resolving the conflict.

“The signal that Russia wants to place its nuclear weapons in Belarus tells me that the meeting with China was unsuccessful, it failed,” Zelensky told reporters during a meeting. visit to Bucha.

The Ukrainian president also said that Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko has “lost importance”, claiming that he “does not decide anything about what kind of weapons are based in his country.”

Some background: Putin announced last week that Moscow will build a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus and complete it by early July. Lukashenko welcomed the move in a national address on Friday, adding that Russia could also place strategic nuclear weapons in his country.

the mention of strategic nuclear weapons, which can decimate entire cities, is an escalation in Lukashenko’s rhetoric. Russia has not publicly announced any plans to send strategic nuclear weapons to Belarus.

Global reaction: While there is no guarantee that Putin will follow through with his plans for Belarus, any nuclear signal from Putin raises concerns in the West.

Ukraine, NATO and the top diplomat of the European Union have condemned The plan. United States has downplayed the movementsaying that there are no indications that Russia will use nuclear weapons.

The nuclear announcement comes as Putin faces mounting problems elsewhere. Read CNN’s analysis of the decision here.

CNN’s Andrew Carey, Ivana Kottas, Lindsay Isaac and Anna Chernova contributed to this report.

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