Here is the situation as it stands on Tuesday, March 21, 2023:
- Ukraine reported the destruction of “multiple” Russian cruise missiles as they were being transported by rail to Russia’s Black Sea fleet in Crimea. The Kalibr cruise missiles were destroyed by an explosion, its military said, without explicitly saying Ukraine was responsible.
- Fierce fighting continues for control of the centre of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
- The eastern town of Avdiivka could soon become a “second Bakhmut” with the risk of being encircled, the Ukrainian military said.
- A Russian Su-35 combat plane was scrambled over the Baltic Sea after two American strategic bombers flew in the direction of the Russian border, the defence ministry said.
- The head of Russia’s Wagner Group of mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said his forces control 70 percent of Bakhmut.
- Prigozhin told Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu in a letter the Ukrainian army was planning an imminent offensive aimed at cutting off his Wagner forces from the main body of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.
- The United States announced it will send Ukraine $350m in weapons and equipment as fierce battles with Russian forces continue for control of of Bakhmut.
- Ukraine’s 2023 grain harvest is likely to fall to 44.3 million tonnes from 53.1 million in 2022 as fewer crops are sown due to the Russian invasion, according to a forecast by the Ukrainian agriculture ministry.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Chinese counterpart and “dear friend” Xi Jinping for dinner at the Kremlin on Monday, with the two men holding several hours of informal talks.
- China has offered a 12-point Ukraine peace proposal, and Putin told Xi that Russia was ‘open to negotiations’ about Ukraine.
- Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko has said Kyiv expected China to use its influence on Russia to end the war,
- Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States have urged Xi to press Putin on ending the war.
- Russia has said it had opened a case against the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor and judges who issued the arrest warrant against Putin, saying it was a sign of the “clear hostility” for Russia and Putin.
- Officials say an international conference in London raised $4.9m to support the ICC in its investigations into alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
- ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan told the conference the issue of the arrest warrants was “very sad” and “very sombre,” noting it was the first time such action had been taken against a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
- European Union countries have agreed to give 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine over the next year, the Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur said.
- Norway said it had delivered eight Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
- Beijing said it was the US rather than China that was supplying weapons to the Ukrainian battlefield, responding to reports that Russia had used Chinese ammunition in Ukraine.
Source: News Agencies