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Ukraine updates: Belarus activists claim Russia A-50 attack

Update : 27 Feb 2023, 19:02

Belarusian anti-government activists claimed an attack on a Russian surveillance aircraft near Minsk with a drone. Russia said China's peace plan should be carefully analyzed.

Anti-government activists in Belarus have claimed responsibility for an attack on a Russian A-50 surveillance aircraft at an airfield near Minsk.

They said the clandestine operation was carried out by a drone.

Alexander Azarau, the leader of the ByPol opposition organization, told Poland-based exile media channel Belsat the Machulishchi attack was conducted by Belarusians who have fled the country and were "in good hands."

Franak Viacorka, an adviser to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, applauded the attack on Twitter as "the most successful diversion" since the start of 2022.

"Glory to Belarusian partisans," he tweeted.

The Russian aircraft Beriev A-50, also known as Mainstay by NATO, has command and control capabilities and the ability to track up to 60 targets at a time.

Acts of sabotage in Belarus, which shares a border with both Ukraine and Russia, have been common since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago.

The country's autocratic leader Alexander Lukashenko is dependent on the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last year, Minsk allowed Moscow to use its territory for launching attacks on Ukraine.

Here are some of the other notable developments concerning the war in Ukraine on Monday, February 27:

Moscow analyzing details of China peace plan, Kremlin says

A peace plan presented by China last week was the subject of detailed analysis, the Kremlin said on Monday, adding that Moscow saw no signs as of yet that a peaceful resolution could be achieved in Ukraine.

"We are paying a great deal of attention to the plan of our Chinese friends," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday. "Of course, the details need to be painstakingly analyzed taking into account the interests of all the different sides. This is a very long and intense process."

The plan urges both sides to agree to a gradual de-escalation. It also warns against the use of nuclear weapons, which Russia has recently been hinting at.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed it has always maintained communication with all sides in the conflict.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who had declared a "no limits" alliance with his Russian counterpart days before the invasion of Ukraine, has spoken to Vladimir Putin several times since the start of the war.

Communication with the Ukrainian side however has been scarce.

China prepares for Belarus's Lukashenko state visit

Meanwhile, China is getting prepared to welcome Belarus's autocratic president and Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko, who is visiting Beijing for three days at the invitation of Xi.

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning hailed in a regular press briefing on Monday the two-countries' 31-year-long diplomatic relations as well as the "political mutual trust" between them.

"China looks forward to working with Belarus to take this visit as an opportunity to promote all-round cooperation between the two countries for further development," she said.

Kremlin 'concerned' about Moldova's unrecognized breakaway state

The Kremlin expressed concern for Moldova's unrecognized breakaway region of Transnistria, amid fears that Moscow could use the tense region as an excuse to attack the country.

"Naturally, the situation in Transnistria is the subject of our closest attention and a reason for our concern," Peskov told reporters. "The situation is unsettled, it is being provoked, provoked from outside."

Moldova's pro-Western President Maia Sandu had accused Moscow earlier this month of plotting a coup. Russia denied such accusations.

However, on Monday, Peskov suggested that European countries as well as Ukraine were causing "provocation" in the region.

Moscow asserts that Kyiv plans to take over the Transnistria region, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Moldova have denied.

Russian media earlier reported that Vadim Krasnoselsky, the self-styled president of Transnistria, had described the situation in the region as tense, urging citizens to remain calm.

Zelenskyy dismissed top Donbas army commander

Ukraine's President Zelenskyy dismissed on Sunday night a top army commander in the eastern Donbas region, without giving reasons for the decision.

Commander Eduard Moskalyov served in his post since March 2022.

Russian and Ukrainian forces have been locked for weeks in fighting over control of the strategic Bakhmut town in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region.

Kyiv is planning an attack in the coming months to reclaim territories occupied by Russia in the eastern and southern regions. One key area Ukraine is eying is Mariupol.

The UK Defense Ministry said that pro-Russian officials have reported in the past week at least 14 explosions around Mariupol.

"Russia will likely be concerned that unexplained explosions are occurring in a zone it had probably previously assessed as beyond the range of routine Ukrainian strike capabilities," the ministry said.

Russian drone strike kills two in western Ukriane

Russian forces attacked the western city of Khmelnytskyi with Iranian-made drones early on Monday, killing two people and injuring three others.

Mayor Oleksandr Symchyshyn reported the incident on social media.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian armed forces said they shot down 11 out of 14 Iranian-made drones deployed by Russian forces overnight, including nine over the capital Kyiv.

More on the war in Ukraine

A poll conducted by Germany's DPA news agency suggests many Germans disapprove of arming Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Thousands in Berlin attend 'naive' Ukraine peace rally. Organizers of the Rebellion for Peace protest have been criticized for playing into Russian President Vladimir Putin's hands.

Ukraine's Zelenskyy says "2023 will be the year of our victory" as Poland says the first Leopard tanks have already been delivered to Kyiv. Ukraine marks a year of war — as it happened.

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