Russia's Foreign Ministry said the Vatican apologized for a statement Pope Francis made in a recent interview in which he singled out two Russian ethnic minorities (the Chechens and the Buryats) labeling them as "the most cruel" participants in the war in Ukraine.
At a briefing on Thursday the message from the Vatican was said to have apologized "to the Russian side" for the pope's comments. The message was praised for showing the Vatican's "ability to conduct dialogue and listen to interlocutors."
A Vatican spokesman would say only that there had been diplomatic contacts on the matter.
Russia continued to build up its military presence in Belarus, a senior Ukrainian military official said. According to Brig. Gen. Oleksiy Hromov, Russian units "are undergoing training and combat coordination" in Belarus, with the Kremlin using Belarusian officers and training grounds to improve the combat capability of existing units, as well as to train newly created units.
Speaking at a press briefing, Hromov said the probability of a Russian offensive from Belarus "remains low," but he highlighted that the transfer of Russian weapons to Belarus is ongoing, including three hypersonic missile-carrying aircraft, a set of tanks and a long-range radar-detection aircraft.