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Belarus abandons its non-nuclear status as Lukashenko warns of WW3 – Updates

The Belarusian leader called on the West to show “restraint” when it comes to sanctions against Moscow

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has warned the West against imposing tough sanctions on Moscow, saying that such measures could push Russia into a “third world war.

Now there is a lot of talk against the banking sector. Gas, oil, SWIFT. It’s worse than war. This is pushing Russia into a third world war,” Lukashenko said on Sunday, as quoted by local media. He added that a nuclear conflict could be the final outcome.

We need to be restrained here so as not to get into trouble. Because nuclear war is the end of everything.”

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has clarified his stance on nuclear weapons by saying that if the West moves its arsenal close to his country’s borders then Minsk will ask neighboring Russia to “return” nuclear weapons to Belarus.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, Belarus’ leader recalled a conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. According to him, on Saturday he told Macron that “if America, or France, also a nuclear power, transfer their nuclear weapons to Poland, to Lithuania, to our borders,” than he will ask the Russian President Vladimir Putin “to return the weapons that I gave you away in the past without any preconditions.”

We will coordinate with Putin and will transfer with Russia appropriate additional weapons here, which could cause such unacceptable damage that neither Poles nor Lithuanians will want to fight with us,” he said, as quoted by Tass.

Belarus carries out constitutional referendum

The revisions offer a significant change in the country’s government structure

Belarus’ referendum on constitutional changes has been declared valid with more than 50% of the voters attending polling stations by midday, the local news agency Belta reported on Sunday.

The proposed amendments, if accepted by the Belarusians, would mean a drastic change to the country’s government structure. The new People’s Assembly – a council of the Belarus’ government with industry leaders and top officials – would be responsible for approving key state documents, including military doctrine and security policies.

Putin places Russian nuclear deterrent on highest alert

The move comes in response to “hostile” rhetoric by top NATO officials, according to the president

President Vladimir Putin has placed Russia’s strategic deterrence forces on “special” alert, announcing the move during a meeting, on Sunday, with his Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and armed forces Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov.

The decision applies to various weapons, both nuclear and conventional, that can be used for defense and offense alike. According to Moscow’s military definition, they are designed to “to deter aggression against Russia and its allies, as well as to defeat the aggressor, including in a war with the use of nuclear weapons.”

“Western countries are not only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic area. I’m speaking about the illegitimate sanctions that everyone is well aware of,” Putin insisted. “However, the top officials of the leading NATO countries also make aggressive statements against our country as well.”


US urges Americans to leave Russia ‘immediately’

Those in the country have been advised to prepare an escape plan that does not involve US assistance

The United States Embassy in Russia encouraged Americans to leave the country as soon as possible, calling on them to prepare a “contingency plan that does not rely on U.S. government assistance.”

In a security alert on Sunday, the US Embassy noted that “an increasing number of airlines are canceling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines” in response to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

Russia to evacuate citizens from Europe

Moscow is working to bring back Russian nationals that are stuck in Europe due to flight restrictions

The Russian government has announced it is working on a plan to evacuate its citizens from Europe, after an array of European countries closed their airspace to all Russian airlines amid Moscow’s military conflict with Kiev.

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency and Federal Tourism Agency revealed on Sunday that they were working with the Russian Foreign Ministry to evacuate Russians from European nations as they continue to impose sanctions on Russia, cutting off Russian aircraft from their airspaces.

“The work to organize the evacuation of Russian citizens from European countries is being carried out by the Federal Air Transport Agency together with the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Federal Tourism Agency. After clarifying the required carrying capacities, a schedule will be formed,” the statement said.

“Russian airlines are ready to fulfill their obligations to passengers and deliver them home, subject to flexible approaches and constructive decisions of the aviation authorities of European countries on this issue,” it continued.

Zelensky invites foreigners to fight for Ukraine

The president has established an international legion for foreign volunteers amid conflict with Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced the creation of the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, which will enlist foreigners who want to fight for the country against Russia.

On Sunday, Zelensky addressed the citizens of foreign countries, saying Russia’s offensive is not just an invasion of Ukraine, but the “beginning of a war against Europe.
Therefore, he said that anyone who wants to join the fight and “stand side by side” with Ukrainians was welcome to do so.

The leadership of Ukraine invites all foreigners who wish to join the resistance to the Russian occupiers and to protect world security to come to our state and to join the ranks of the Territorial Defense Forces. A separate unit of foreigners is being formed – the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine,” he said.

Denmark to allow citizens to fight in Ukraine

Copenhagen has said that Danes are free to “contribute directly” to the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine

Copenhagen has revealed it will allow Danish nationals to join the international military force Kiev plans to set up to aid its own military in the conflict with Russia.

“It’s a choice that anyone can make. This goes for all Ukrainians who live here, but also for others who think they can contribute directly to the conflict,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press conference on Sunday.

“There is nothing at first sight that would legally prevent someone from going to Ukraine to participate in the conflict, on the Ukrainian side,” Frederiksen added. Earlier, the PM took part in a massive protest against Moscow’s operation in front of the Russian embassy in Copenhagen, telling the crowd that “it is all of you and all of Europe who are threatened by Russia.”

EU to send fighter jets to Ukraine

The bloc’s top diplomat said lethal aid will be delivered through Poland

The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell has revealed that a 450 million Euro package of “lethal aid” for Ukraine will include fighter jets, with all weapons delivered through Poland. Borrell also said that around half of the Russian Central Bank’s reserves would be frozen.

Speaking hours after EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the bloc would “finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment” for Ukraine, Borrell revealed that the EU’s “lethal aid” package would amount to 450 million euros ($501 million), with another 50 million euros ($55,744) going toward non-lethal aid, including fuel and medical supplies.

“Certainly, we are going to supply arms…we are even going to provide fighting jets,” Borrell told reporters. “We are not just talking about ammunition.”

Turkey restricts Russian Navy access

Situation in Ukraine has escalated into a full-blown war, Turkey’s top diplomat has said

Turkey is set to restrict the access of Russian warships to the Black Sea over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, its Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday.

“It is not a couple of air strikes now, the situation in Ukraine is officially a war… We will implement the Montreux Convention,” the official told CNN Turk in a live interview. “Turkey will implement all provisions of Montreux Convention in a transparent manner,” he added.

Ankara will still allow military vessels, returning to their home ports to pass through the straits, Cavusoglu noted. “There should not be any abuse of this exemption. Ships that declare returning to their bases and passing through the straits should not be involved in the war,” the diplomat said.

‘Great Reset’ architect backs Ukraine

World Economic Forum chairman Klaus Schwab has condemned the Russian military operation in the country

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and its chairman, Klaus Schwab, have thrown their support behind Ukraine, vowing to do “whatever is possible to help” the country against Russian “aggression.”

In the statement on Sunday, Schwab – the author of ‘Covid-19: The Great Reset’ – and WEF President Borge Brende said they “deeply condemn the aggression by Russia against Ukraine” and “the attacks and atrocities.”

“Our full solidarity is with Ukraine’s people and all those who are suffering innocently from this totally unacceptable war,” they stated.

“We only hope that – in the longer-term – reason will prevail and that the space for bridge-building and reconciliation once more emerges,” they said, joining NATO, the European Commission, the UN chief, and other Western powers in publicly condemning Russia’s military action in Ukraine.

China speaks out against sanctions over Ukraine

Beijing believes the West should address Moscow’s “legitimate security demands”

China said on Saturday that Western sanctions slapped on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine will not solve the crisis. Many countries have imposed sweeping restrictions on Moscow, hitting its banks, trade, and largest airline, among other things. Foreign Minister Wang Yi made his comments during a phone call with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang said “China doesn’t support the use of sanctions to solve problems, and even more so opposes unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law.”

“It’s been long proven that sanctions not only fail to solve [existing] problems, but create news ones, resulting ‘lose-lose’ effects on the economy and interfering in the process of political settlement,” he added.

North Korea weighs in on Ukraine

Pyongyang accused Washington of pursuing “military supremacy” at the expense of Moscow’s “legitimate” security demands

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry has defended Russia and fingered the behavior of the US as the “root cause” of the conflict in Ukraine, in its first official response to Moscow’s ongoing military offensive.

“The root cause of the Ukrainian crisis also lies in the high-handedness and arbitrariness of the US,” a commentary posted to North Korea’s Foreign Ministry website on Saturday reads.

The statement argues that Washington has pursued “military supremacy in disregard of the legitimate demand of Russia for its security.”

It accuses the US of unjustifiably interfering in the internal affairs of other nations without regard for “peace and stability” and ignoring self-defense measures taken by other nations, including Russia. “It is arrogance and double standards,” the statement reads.

European Commission head says EU wants Ukraine ‘in’

Ursula von der Leyen has argued that Kiev “belongs” to the European Union

The president of the European Commission has claimed that the EU wants to see Ukraine joining its ranks as a military conflict between Kiev and Moscow rages on. The official was short on specifics and did not provide a timeline for the potential accession, however.

“We have a process with Ukraine that is, for example, integrating the Ukrainian market into the single market. We have a very close cooperation on the energy grid. So, many topics where we work very closely together,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday.

“Over time, they belong to us, they are one of us, and we want them in,” she added.

EU to ban RT and Sputnik

European Commission president announces bloc-wide ban on Russian media outlets

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Sunday that the EU will ban the Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik accusing them of spreading “harmful disinformation.” She did not specify whether this ban will apply solely to television broadcasts, or whether RT and Sputnik’s websites will be affected.

In what she called an “unprecedented” step, von der Leyen announced that “we will ban in the European Union the Kremlin’s media machine.”

“The state owned Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our union,” she continued. “We are developing tools to ban toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe.”

SWIFT preparing to disconnect Russia

US, Canada and European countries earlier agreed to cut several banks from the system

he Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) announced on Saturday that it was preparing to comply with orders from Western powers to disconnect Russia from its system.

In a statement to Reuters, SWIFT said it was “engaging with European authorities to understand the details of the entities that will be subject to the new measures” and was “preparing to comply upon legal instruction.”

The European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States issued a statement on Saturday announcing that “selected Russian banks” would be “removed from the SWIFT messaging system” in response to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

Russian Central Bank raises key interest rate to 20% per annum

The increase came after Western nations sought to freeze Russia’s national currency reserves

The Bank of Russia has increased the base interest rate to a record 20%, the financial body announced on Monday. The central bank also said Russian residents will have to exchange 80% of revenue received in foreign currencies into rubles.

The moves were made in response to financial sanctions which were imposed by the US and its allies in response to the Russian military operation in Ukraine. Western nations are seeking to cripple Russia’s financial system by a series of measures limiting its access to foreign markets and its own currency reserves.READ MORE: Bank of Russia responds to Western threats

The Russian central bank said the emergency measures are meant to provide additional stability and to protect savings from devaluation.

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