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Ukraine confirms rocket that struck its airport was fired from Belarus

The Ukrainian state security service has officially reported that a rocket attack on Zhytomyr Airport – located some 93 miles west of Kiev – was launched from the territory of Belarus. 

Belarusian special forces were seen loading onto airplanes in preparation for an air assault on Kyiv in what could be a widening of the war, military sources stated.
 Ukrainian intelligence has reportedly learned from within Belarus that ‘special ops’ troops have been spotted loading up planes for a major attack.

Videos have circulated of the explosion at Zhytomyr Airport, with reports of shockwaves nearby. A widening of the conflict to potentially include Russian ally Belarus could signal Vladimir Putin’s growing fury and frustration as the Russian campaign appears to get bogged down in fierce fighting around Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city. It could also run the risk of sucking in other states including NATO allies, triggering a pan-European conflict.

In a bizarre rant on Sunday, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko warned that the war in Ukraine will ‘become a meat grinder’. Speaking at a polling station during a referendum on constitutional change that would give the despot further power, the Putin ally thundered: ‘The conflict in Ukraine is the thin edge of the wedge. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about. If it continues like this, the worst will happen.

‘He [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] will not be hidden in any American or some other bunker. That’s why the war should be ended today. I wouldn’t even call it the war. This is a conflict. The war will last for one-two days, but there will be a meat grinder in three days.’ Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Kyiv’s former defence minister, has claimed that Belarus is about to declare war on Ukraine.

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko talks to reporters at a polling station

The Guardian quoted Zagorodnyuk as saying: ‘Republic of Belarus is highly likely to join the Russian war against Ukraine. On Russian side. There is an information about airborne troopers from Republic of Belarus loaded on the planes to enter Ukraine.

‘This is a terrible development as it involves a country, which until very recently was a great friend of Ukraine; which people always considered Ukraine as a brotherly nation. Ukraine and Belarus has never been to war one with another in their many hundred years of history.

‘We believe that the only reason for that decision was personal demand from President of Russia, which completely depends from Putin in its policy.’

Kremlin forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday from the south, east and from Belarus in the north, having spent weeks building up Russia’s elite Spetsnaz troops on so-called ‘exercises’ with their Belarusian counterparts. 

An Ukrainian Territorial Defence fighter examines a destroyed Russian infantry mobility vehicle GAZ Tigr after the fight in Kharkiv

Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday that Russia and Ukraine would meet at an unspecified location on the Belarusian border and did not give a precise time for the meeting. Russia had announced that its delegation had flown to Belarus to await talks. Ukrainian officials initially rejected the move, saying any talks should take place elsewhere than Belarus, where Moscow placed a large contingent of troops before it invaded Ukraine starting Thursday.

It is thought that the Kremlin underestimated the level of resistance they would meet from Kyiv’s troops and were overly reliant on trying to panic Ukraine into surrender. The sluggish Russian effort has sparked Western fears that he could resort to drastic measures to crush the Ukrainian resistance. This could include the use of thermobaric bombs, among the most lethal non-nuclear bombs ever developed.

It comes as Putin ordered Russian nuclear deterrent forces put on high alert on Sunday amid tensions with the West over his invasion of Ukraine. Speaking at a meeting with his top officials, the Russian president claimed that leading NATO powers had made ‘aggressive statements’ along with the West imposing hard-hitting financial sanctions against Russia, including the president himself.

He ordered the Russian defence minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a ‘special regime of combat duty’. 

‘Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country,’ Putin said in televised comments.

His order raised the threat that the tensions with the West over the invasion in Ukraine could lead to the use of nuclear weapons.

The Russian leader this week threatened to retaliate harshly against any nations that intervened directly in the conflict in Ukraine.

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