(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.

The U.S. Department of Defense said there were no indications that Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons after Moscow’s announcement.

* 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. Separately, Britain’s defence ministry said the months-long Russian assault on the city had stalled, mainly as a result of heavy troop losses.

* U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi will visit the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine next week to assess the serious situation there, he said.

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* 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.

* Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he would push for fair peace in the war in Ukraine that included “territorial integrity” during a state visit to China next week.

* Putin held a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin said. Erdogan thanked Putin for his “positive attitude” in extending the Black Sea grain deal, the Kremlin said in a statement.

* Russia’s parliament speaker 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.

* Ukraine will no longer resort to “dangerous” monetary financing to fund the war against Russia, its central bank governor, Andriy Pyshnyi, told the Financial Times in an interview.

* INSIGHT-Inside Ukraine’s scramble for “game-changer” drone fleet

* Peace plans and pipelines: What came out of the Putin-Xi talks?

* SPECIAL REPORT-Wagner’s convicts tell of horrors of Ukraine war and loyalty to their leader

(Compiled by Reuters editors)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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