He likened the move to the United States’ practice of stationing nuclear weapons in Europe. Washington retains control over the weapons, keeping host countries — like Germany — from breaking their commitments as non-nuclear powers.
“We are not going to hand over control of nuclear weapons. The US doesn’t hand it over to its allies. We're basically doing the same thing (US leaders) have been doing for a decade,” Putin said.
Some background: Even though there is no guarantee the Russian leader will follow through with his plan to station the weapons in Belarus, any nuclear signaling by Putin will cause concern in the West.
The United States has sought to make it clear to Putin the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, even low-yield tactical devices.
4:54 p.m. ET, March 25, 2023
Putin says Russia plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus
From CNN's Hira Humayun, Mariya Knight and Andrew Carey
Russia plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, President Vladimir Putin told state television Saturday.
Moscow will complete the construction of a special storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by the beginning of July, Putin told state broadcaster Russia 1.
The Russian leader said Moscow has already transferred an Iskander short-range missile system – which can be fitted with nuclear or conventional warheads – to Belarus.
During the interview, Putin also said Russia has helped Belarus convert 10 aircraft to make them capable of carrying tactical nuclear warheads. Russia will start training pilots to fly the re-configured planes early next month, he added.
Key context: The government in Belarus, which is situated west of Russia on Ukraine's long northern border, is among Moscow's closest allies.
Belarus has had no nuclear weapons on its territory since the early 1990s. Shortly after gaining independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it agreed to transfer all Soviet-era weapons of mass destruction stationed there to Russia.
Global tensions: Even though there is no guarantee the Russian leader will follow through with his plan to station the weapons in Belarus, any nuclear signaling by Putin will cause concern in the West.
Ukrainian soldiers “managed to push the enemy away” from "the road of life" in Bakhmut for a “considerable distance,” making it impossible for Russia to keep the road under fire control, said Yuriy Fedorenko, a Ukrainian military officer.
Ukrainian forces have “improved their position” in the city, Fedorenko added, though he acknowledged "the fighting is tough."
He said Ukraine is "holding the line in the most difficult areas" and have had some tactical successes.
According to Fedorenko, Russia’s forces are “constantly conducting assaults in the Bakhmut direction and are constantly trying to advance.”
Some context: CNN has not been able to independently verify Fedorenko's claims.
It has been difficult to determine exactly where each military's troops stand during the grueling fight for Bakhmut, and Kyiv and Moscow have often offered differing reports on the status of fighting on the ground.
Ukraine's top generals have claimed in recent weeks that Russian forces are depleted in Bakhmut. A Ukrainian counteroffensive could soon be launched, the generals say, raising the prospect of an unlikely turnaround in the besieged city.
1:28 p.m. ET, March 25, 2023
Ukrainian military says it repelled over 50 Russian attacks over the past day
From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko
The Ukrainian military has repelled more than 50 Russian attacks over the past 24 hours, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces claimed in an update Saturday.
The majority of the repelled attacks were concentrated in communities of the eastern Donetsk region, the General Staff said, including the embattled city of Bakhmut and the towns of Avdiivka, Lyman and Marinka.
This map shows the latest state of control in Ukraine:
1:21 p.m. ET, March 25, 2023
Around 10,000 people "pushed to limit of existence" in besieged Bakhmut, Red Cross says
From CNN’s Allegra Goodwin
Around 10,000 Ukrainian civilians are being “pushed to the very limit of their existence,” in the beleaguered eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut and the nearby area, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Friday.
The bloody battle for Bakhmut has been at the center of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in recent months, as soldiers from the private Russian mercenary company Wagner have bombarded the city and edged closer towards seizing control.
“Based on our understanding, there are several thousands of residents still living in Bakhmut, and if we talk about the communities around, the numbers would be coming closer to several thousands, possibly around 10,000,” the ICRC’s Umar Khan, who has been in the city in recent days providing aid, told a news briefing. Civilians stuck in Bakhmut are “living in very dire conditions, spending almost the entire days in intense shelling in the shelters,” Khan said, adding, “all you see are people pushed to the very limit of their existence and survival and resilience in them.”
The ICRC has delivered hygiene kits, solar lamps, water containers, essential repair supplies and handheld tools to the community.
“These are the practical items that give them practical solutions to the problems they are facing every day,” Khan said. “No matter how many times I’ve been there, or near the frontline communities and areas over the past 13 months, I still feel the same shock, as when we visited those places the first time. Houses are crushed by military firepower, roofs are ripped off, apartment buildings are littered with holes, chunks missing, the constant threat of unexploded shells, bombs underfoot, and some people still living in the shelters, trying to survive these intense hostilities,” he continued.
1:56 p.m. ET, March 25, 2023
Reminders of war motivate Ukraine to perform "miracle" against England
From CNN's Ben Church
It may be thousands of miles from the frontline, but the Ukrainian soccer team is never far from the horrors of war.
While the squad has assembled in the leafy suburbs of London ahead of its Euro 2024 qualifying match against England, Russian forces continue to bombard Ukraine – with deadly missile strikes seen across the country this week.
It’s why, despite the comfort of their luxury hotel, the minds of the team are very much with their friends and family back home as they prepare for Sunday’s game.
Oleksandr Glyvynskyy, the Ukrainian team’s media representative, says many members of the squad have an application on their phone that alerts them when there is an air-raid siren back home.
Others start every day by scrolling through social media to check whether there were any Russian attacks from the night before.
They do this to ensure their loved ones are safe, but it also serves as a constant reminder of just how perilous the situation is.