Russian President Vladimir Putin has grown closer to "reliable partners" since launching the invasion of Ukraine. On Friday, he said his country has made its first shipment of nuclear weapons to his closest ally in Belarus, and the rest will be shipped by the end of the year.
Putin spoke at an economic forum at St. Petersburg. He said, "This is just an element of deterrence, so that everyone who is thinking about inflicting a strategic defeat on us will not forget about the circumstance."
Putin announced plans to move some of the arsenal to Belarus in March. He said the weapons would only be used in case of what he called a "true threat".
He added that his forces could easily destroy every building standing in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, but that they have so far chosen not to.
Still, those forces have kept up their attacks. On Friday, they struck while a delegation of African leaders was visiting the capital seeking an end to the fighting.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, "There must be de-escalation of the conflict. Today, as we were here, we heard missile strikes. And those types of activities are not good for fostering peace."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, "The Russian president is not ready to see peace. He wants to erase and destroy the state of Ukraine. It is his intention."
The African delegation will next hold talks with Putin on Saturday in St. Petersburg.