Here is the situation as it stands on Friday, March 24, 2023:
- The use of depleted uranium shells in Ukraine would harm Ukrainian troops, the wider population, and negatively affect the country’s agriculture sector for decades or even centuries, Russia’s defence ministry said.
- Russian forces may have to advance as far as Kyiv or Lviv in Ukraine, Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev said. “Nothing can be ruled out here. If you need to get to Kyiv, then you need to go to Kyiv, if to Lviv, then you need to go to Lviv in order to destroy this infection,” Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.
- The Kremlin said it is essential to identify an object discovered next to one of the Nord Stream pipelines and the ongoing investigation into the blasts must be transparent.
- Hungary said Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be arrested if he enters the country despite the International Criminal Court (ICC) issuing an arrest warrant against him on war crimes charges. Hungary signed and ratified the Rome Statute that created the ICC but Hungarian officials said the Rome Statute had not been built into the Hungarian legal system, so there was no basis on which to arrest Putin.
- Any attempt to detain Putin under the International Criminal Court warrant would amount to a “declaration of war”, former Russian President and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.
- European Union leaders held talks with Ukrainian President Volodmy Zelenskyy who called on the bloc to provide his forces with more modern weaponry, particularly jet fighters and long-range missiles. Zelenskyy told EU leaders that “delays” in sending fighter jets and long-range missiles would extend the war.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping invited Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to Beijing for a state visit as Xi tries to increase support for China’s peace proposal for Ukraine.
- Russian long-range strikes killed at least 10 civilians and wounded 20 others in several areas of Ukraine, officials said.
- Ukrainian commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said Russian forces fighting in Bakhmut were “losing considerable strength and are running out of steam”. He indicated that a Ukrainian counteroffensive was imminent.
- Kyiv has accused mercenaries of Russia’s Wagner Group of deporting residents of Bakhmut, a city now destroyed, to Russia.
- Ukraine was forced to withdraw a report claiming that Russian forces had left the town of Nova Kakhovka in the southern Kherson region.
- The international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders has revealed in a new report the widespread destruction of health facilities in Ukraine due to Russia’s invasion.
- Zelenskyy has posted footage from his visit to Kherson, in which he promised to “restore everything” in a city, which Russia occupied for eight months and left in ruins.
- Heavy fighting has been ongoing on the Luhansk region’s front line since the beginning of March, according to the United Kingdom’s defence ministry.
- NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has dismissed Russian complaints over the UK’s provision of tank ammunition containing depleted uranium to Ukraine along with Challenger 2 tanks
- Poland is seeking an additional 240 million euros ($261m) in EU funding to refinance military purchases for Ukraine, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.
- Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has spoken out against weakening sanctions against Russia, which Moscow has demanded in return for extending a deal that allows Ukraine to export grain across the Black Sea.
- Slovakia’s defence ministry said the country has handed over the first four of its Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine and the remainder of the 13 planes pledged are to be delivered in the coming weeks.
- EU leaders have confirmed a plan to supply 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine over the next year.
- Finland’s defence minister said he did not want to donate Hornet fighter jets to Ukraine, despite Kyiv’s request.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies