(Reuters) – Russia has struck a deal with neighbouring Belarus to station tactical nuclear weapons on its territory, Tass news agency quoted President Vladimir Putin as saying on Saturday.
* Ukrainian forces have managed to blunt Russia’s offensive in and around the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut, where the situation is stabilising, commander in chief General Valery Zaluzhniy said on Saturday. Separately, Britain’s defence ministry said the months-long Russian assault on the city had stalled, mainly as a result of heavy troop losses.
* The head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency will visit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant next week to assess the serious security situation there, the IAEA said.
* More than 5,000 former criminals have been pardoned after finishing their contracts to fight in Russia’s Wagner mercenary group against Ukraine, the founder of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said.
* Some 10,000 Ukrainian civilians, many elderly and with disabilities, are clinging on to existence in horrific circumstances in and around the besieged city of Bakhmut, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday.
DIPLOMACY AND SANCTIONS
* Putin held a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin said on Saturday. Erdogan thanked Putin for his “positive attitude” in extending the Black Sea grain deal, the Kremlin said in a statement.
* Russia’s parliament speaker on Saturday proposed banning the activities of the International Criminal Court after it issued an arrest warrant earlier this month for Putin, accusing him of the war crimes.
* Democratic and Republican U.S. senators urged the Biden administration on Friday to share information with the ICC as it pursues war crimes charges against Putin.
* Air force commanders from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark said on Friday they have signed a letter of intent to create a unified Nordic air defence aimed at countering the rising threat from Russia.
* Russia’s middle class will shrink as social inequality grows over coming years, an economic study conducted by Russian experts suggested, as sanctions against Moscow and limited growth potential scupper development prospects.
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(Compiled by Reuters editors)