Putin stated this to President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting in St. Petersburg. In St. Petersburg, missile systems “can use both ballistic and cruise missiles, both conventional and nuclear,” the Kremlin said.
On Saturday, Ukraine said that Russian troops fired several rockets at the Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions from Belarus.
In the transcript of the meeting, Lukashenka expressed to Putin his “stress” over what he said were flights by US and NATO aircraft “training to carry nuclear warheads” near the Belarusian border.
He asked Putin to consider a “mirror response” to flying, or re-equipping the Russian fighter jets currently deployed in Belarus with “nuclear warhead noses”.
Putin responded that there was “no need” to match US flights and suggested that Belarus instead modify its own Su-25 aircraft to carry nuclear weapons.
“This modernization should be carried out at aircraft factories in Russia, but we will agree on how to do this. And, accordingly, start training the flight personnel, ”Putin said.
What is Iskander-M?
According to Janes Defense, the Iskander-M is a Russian short-range ballistic missile system that can carry conventional or nuclear warheads with a maximum range of up to 500 kilometers (310 miles).
The weapon uses both optical and inertial guidance systems to engage its targets, hitting them with a variety of warheads such as cluster munitions, vacuum bombs, anti-bunker bombs and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) warheads, according to the Missile Defense.
According to the Alliance, Iskander-M was first used in 2008 during the Russian-Georgian conflict, when the Russian army used it to hit targets in Gori.
CNN turned to the Pentagon for comment on Lukashenka’s statements.
G7 and NATO summits
The meeting between Russian and Belarusian leaders took place on the eve of a week of summits in Europe, where the stubborn war in Ukraine, now in its fifth month, will be in the spotlight.
The leaders of Japan, Canada, the US, the UK, France, Italy, the European Union and host Germany will meet in Group of 7 on Monday.
During his Saturday night speech, Zelenskiy said “sanctions packages against Russia are not enough” and urged Western partners to provide more “armed assistance” to Ukraine.
“Air defense systems – modern systems that our partners have – should not be at training grounds or warehouses, but in Ukraine, where they are needed now,” he said.
Fall of Severodonetsk.
Regional military officials said on Friday that the last troops in Severodonetsk had been ordered to withdraw as it was impossible to continue defending their positions. This effectively ceded the city to Russia and brought the Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine almost entirely under Russian control.
The Russian Defense Ministry on Saturday said its forces have now taken control of the entire left bank of the Seversky Donets, the eastern side of the river, and all borders of the Luhansk People’s Republic.
The official representative of the Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov, said that Russian troops “completely liberated the cities of Severodonetsk and Borovskoye, the settlements of Voronovo and Syrotin of the Luhansk People’s Republic.”
CNN’s Caitlan Collins, Tim Lister and Olga Voitovich contributed to the report.