Some 10,000 Ukrainian civilians are clinging to existence in horrific circumstances in and around the besieged city of Bakhmut, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday.
Several thousand, many elderly and with disabilities, are estimated to remain in the city itself, said the ICRC’s Umar Khan, who has been providing them with aid in recent days.
“For the civilians that are stuck there, they are living in very dire conditions, spending almost the entire days in intense shelling in the shelters,” he told a Geneva press briefing by video link from Dnipro in Ukraine.
“All you see is people pushed to the very limits of their existence and survival and resilience.”
It comes after one of Kyiv’s top generals, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said Ukraine would soon launch a counteroffensive in embattled eastern and southern regions as Russian forces are “running out of steam”.
Russia’s winter push for new ground in eastern and southern Ukraine has failed to result in any major victories, and has instead descended into bloody attrition.
Thousands of civilians ‘at the limit of existence’ in Bakhmut, says Red Cross
Ukraine plans counteroffensive in east and south
We don’t want conflict with Nato – Medvedev
Russia claims depleted uranium would harm Ukrainian troops
Thousands of civilians ‘at the limit of existence’ in Bakhmut, says Red Cross
13:23 , Emily Atkinson
Some 10,000 Ukrainian civilians, many elderly and with disabilities, are clinging on to existence in horrific circumstances in and around the besieged city of Bakhmut, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday.
Russian forces have been trying for months to capture the city in Europe’s bloodiest infantry battle since World War Two.
Several thousand are estimated to remain in the city itself, said the ICRC’s Umar Khan, who has been providing them with aid in recent days.
“For the civilians that are stuck there, they are living in very dire conditions, spending almost the entire days in intense shelling in the shelters,” he told a Geneva press briefing by video link from Dnipro in Ukraine.
“All you see is people pushed to the very limits of their existence and survival and resilience.”
Russia’s Wagner mercenaries ‘running out of steam’ as Ukraine plans counteroffensive
17:20 , Liam James
Russia’s Wagner mercenaries are “running out of steam” and Ukraine will soon launch a counteroffensive, a military official has said (Eleanor Noyce writes).
Top ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi claimed that the group, who have been at the front of Moscow’s assault on eastern and southern Ukraine, are losing “considerable strength” amid the fight for Bakhmut.
The Ukrainian military also claimed 1,020 Russian troops had been killed in the past 24 hours after unsuccessful attacks on Lyman, Avdiivka, Mariinka and Shakhtarske.
Forty prisoners of war killed in Ukraine conflict, says UN
16:40 , Liam James
UN human rights monitors have documented 40 summary killings of Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war (POWs), according to a new report.
“We are deeply concerned about the summary execution of up to 25 Russian prisoners of war and persons ordered to combat by Ukrainian armed forces, which we have documented,” Matilda Bogner, the head of the UN monitoring mission, said at a Kyiv press conference.
She said Ukrainian prosecutors were investigating some cases but none have been taken to court yet.
“In relation to the treatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war, we are also deeply concerned by the summary execution of 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war shortly after being captured by Russian armed forces,” Ms Bogner said.
The UN rights office, which has had a monitoring team in Ukraine since fighting broke out in areas of eastern Ukraine claimed by Russia-backed separatists in 2014, has said its findings are based on confirmed cases and typically understate actual tolls.
Russian fire kills 10 civilians, says Ukraine
16:10 , Liam James
Long-range Russian bombardment killed at least 10 civilians and wounded 20 others in several parts of Ukraine overnight and into Friday, officials in Kyiv said, raising the toll from seven earlier.
Five people died in Kostiantynivka, in eastern Ukraine‘s Donetsk province, when a Russian missile hit an aid station. Prosecutors said the Russians attacked with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. The civilians who died were refugees, according to Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.
Two civilians were killed and nine were wounded in the town of Bilopillia in Sumy province by an overnight rocket and artillery barrage and airstrikes, officials in the northeastern region said.
In southern Ukraine, Russian shelling killed one person in the city of Kherson and killed another person and wounded four others in the town of Bilozerka, authorities said.
Russia reneging on major arms delivery commitments due to Ukraine war, says India
15:40 , Liam James
Russia is reneging on its weapon delivery commitments to India as arms supplies have hit a roadblock due to the war in Ukraine, according to the Indian Air Force (IAF) (Shweta Sharma writes).
The comments seem to be the first sign that India could recalibrate its dependency on Russia amid continuing border challenges it faces from its nuclear neighbours Pakistan and China.
The IAF told a committee of India’s lower house in parliament in a statement published on Tuesday that Russia had scheduled a “major delivery” this year, without specifying what this delivery was.
India is the world’s biggest buyer of Russian arms, accounting for around 20 per cent of Moscow’s current order book and since 2018, the Narendra Modi government has signed a range of deals with Russia to import its air-defence missile systems, warships and assault rifles.
In pictures: Second cohort of Ukrainian artillery troops train in England
15:16 , Emily Atkinson
Ukrainian soldiers fire an AS90 as they take part in a military exercise at a military training camp in an undisclosed location in England.
The second cohort of Ukrainian artillery recruits come to the end of their training on the formidable AS90 155mm self-propelled gun
Spain says world must listen to China's voice to end war in Ukraine
14:52 , Emily Atkinson
The world should listen to China’s voice in order to find a way out of the war in Ukraine, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez has said in anticipation of his state visit to Beijing next week.
“China is a global actor, so obviously we must listen to its voice to see if between all of us, we can put an end to this war and Ukraine can recover its territorial integrity,” Sanchez told a news conference in Brussels following a meeting of the European Council.
He is set to visit the Chinese capital on 31 March for talks with president Xi Jinping. The meeting between the two leaders is expected to mostly focus on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, in which China has described itself as “impartial” and put forward a 12-point peace plan while calling for a comprehensive ceasefire.
Sanchez has publicly backed Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s peace proposal, which includes demands to restore Ukraine‘s territory to the status quo before Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Russia wants demilitarised buffer zones in Ukraine, says Putin ally
14:26 , Emily Atkinson
Russia wants to create demilitarised buffer zones inside Ukraine around areas it has annexed, an ally of President Vladimir Putin has said.
“We need to achieve all the goals that have been set to protect our territories, that is the territories of the Russian Federation,” former president Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Russian media posted on Telegram.
We need to “throw out all the foreigners who are there in the broad sense of the word, create a buffer zone which would not allow the use of any types of weapons that work at medium and short distances, that is 70-100 kilometres, to demilitarise it,” the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council said.
Russia would have to push further into Ukraine if such zones were not established, he said, taking Kyiv the capital or even the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Ukraine says it will never accept Russian occupation of its land.
“Nothing can be ruled out here. If you need to get to Kyiv, then you need to go to Kyiv, if you need to get to Lviv, then you need to go to Lviv in order to destroy this infection,” said Medvedev.
Poland to get 800-900m euros from EU for arms for Ukraine, says PM
13:50 , Emily Atkinson
The European Peace Facility, which is used to fund arms for Ukraine, will amount to at least 3.5 billion euros in the coming years, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki declared on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Brussels today.
“Poland’s compensation from the facility for transferring arms to Ukraine will amount to some 300 million euros next month and 500-600 million in the following months,” Morawiecki told reporters.
Rescued Ukrainian children recount horrors of Russia deportation and ‘torture’
12:00 , Liam James
Ukrainian children who returned from Russia after months of being deported have recounted the political indoctrination and mental trauma they endured during their detention.
At least 17 children, residents of besieged Kharkiv and Kherson, came back to Ukraine this week, non-profit Save Ukraine said in a release on Thursday.
An emotional video of their return to Ukraine from Crimea showed at least eight children, including teenagers, being reunited with their families after stepping out of a minivan.
Russia claims depleted uranium would harm Ukrainian troops
11:15 , Liam James
Russia’s defence ministry said the use of depleted uranium shells in Ukraine would harm Ukrainian troops, the wider population and negatively affect the country’s agriculture sector, the Interfax news agency reports.
The Kremlin has jumped on Britain’s pledge to supply missiles tipped with the mildly radioactive substance as a sign that Kyiv’s western allies are risking nuclear escalation in the Ukraine war.
Depleted uranium is a by-product of enriching uranium and cannot generate a nuclear reaction, though it retains some radioactive properties and its use in arms is controversial. It has been used for decades in missiles and tank armour as it is extremely dense and has great penetrating, and protective, strength.
Russia also has depleted uranium munitions but just does not want Ukraine to have them, too, according to a White House official.
Biden and Trudeau set to make deal on asylum seekers
10:30 , Liam James
US president Joe Biden and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau are poised to announce a deal aimed at stopping asylum seekers from traversing the shared US-Canada land border via unofficial crossings.
The two leaders, in talks in Ottawa, are also expected to discuss how to address the worsening security and humanitarian situation in Haiti.
Trudeau has been under pressure to stop the flow of asylum seekers in Quebec, the mainly French-speaking province where he holds his parliamentary seat.
Mr Biden arrived in Canada on Thursday on his long-delayed visit to express unity on Ukraine.
Seven civilians killed in Russian strikes, says Ukraine
10:00 , Liam James
Overnight Russian missile strikes and shelling killed at least seven civilians in northern and eastern Ukraine, regional officials said this morning.
Emergency services said five civilians were killed in Kostiantynivka in the eastern region of Donetsk region, and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said two were killed and seven wounded following intense shelling of Bilopillia in the northern region of Sumy.
Kostiantynivka sits a few miles west of Bakhmut, the city Russian forces have spent months trying to capture.
Medvedev says Russia not looking for fight with Nato
09:26 , Liam James
Russian ex-President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia was not planning to enter into a direct conflict with Nato and was interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis through talks, the Interfax news agency reported.
However, he warned that any Ukrainian attempt to take the Crimean peninsula – which Moscow annexed in 2014 – would be grounds for Russia to use “absolutely any weapon” against Kyiv in response.
Mr Medvedev has made several belligerent comments in recent days, threatening “nuclear apocalypse” and warning international prosecutors that arresting Vladimir Putin would be considered an act of war.
Russian deserter jailed for 6.5 years
08:55 , Liam James
A Russian security officer who fled the country because he objected to the invasion of Ukraine has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in high-security prison, the Taiga.info news website reported on Friday.
Federal Protective Service Major Mikhail Zhilin, 36, fled to Kazakhstan last year when Russia announced a conscription campaign, illegally crossing the border through woods while his wife and children drove through a checkpoint.
Mr Zhilin sought refugee status in the former Soviet republic but his request was denied and authorities there stopped him from leaving for Armenia.
Kazakhstan handed him over to Russia late last year, leading to the rare conviction of an officer for desertion.
Ukraine using helicopters older than its pilots
08:30 , Liam James
Ukraine continues to use Soviet-era attack helicopters older than some of its pilots to defend against Russian invaders.
They might fly three or four sorties a day, said one commander, whose two-crew Mi-24 helicopter, built about 40 years ago, is older than him.
“We are carrying out combat tasks to destroy enemy vehicles, enemy personnel.
“We are working with pitch-up attacks from a distance from where the enemy can’t get us with their air defence system,” said the commander, who spoke anonymously for security reasons.
Several countries, including the United States and Britain, have pledged to send, or have already sent, helicopters to Ukraine as part of military aid since the start of the war.
Ukraine preparing counteroffensive as Russia ‘running out of steam'
07:57 , Liam James
Ukrainian troops, on the defensive for months, will soon counterattack as Russia’s offensive looks to be faltering, one of Kyiv’s top generals said.
Ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said earlier his forces would soon launch a counteroffensive after withstanding Russia’s winter campaign, which sought gains in eastern Ukraine through a bloody campaign of attrition.
Mr Syrskyi said Russia’s Wagner mercenaries, who have been at the front of Moscow’s assault on eastern and southern Ukraine, “are losing considerable strength and are running out of steam”.
“Very soon, we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we did in the past near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk,” he said, listing Ukrainian counteroffensives last year that recaptured swathes of land.
There was no immediate response from Moscow to suggestions its forces in Bakhmut were losing momentum, but Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin issued statements in recent days, warning of a Ukrainian counterassault.
Ukraine invasion has ‘severely dislocated’ Russia’s military training machinery – MoD
07:06 , Arpan Rai
Russia’s military training system has been severely impacted by its invasion of Ukraine as is visible from Moscow’s training programme with the much less experienced Belarusian army, the British defence ministry said today.
It noted that Russia had likely redeployed at least 1,000 troops as of mid-March who had been training at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in south-western Belarus.
“Although no new rotation of troops has been noted, Russia has highly likely left the tented camp in place, suggesting it is considering continuing the training programme,” the ministry said.
It added: “The fact Russia has resorted to training its personnel under the much less-experienced Belarusian army highlights how Russia’s ‘special military operation’ has severely dislocated the Russian military’s training system – instructors have largely been deployed in Ukraine.”
Russia likely also views Belarus’s continued indirect support to the operation as important political messaging, the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.
World Athletics confirms Russians remain barred from athletics for ‘foreseeable future’
07:00 , Emily Atkinson
The International Olympic Committee is exploring a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals at next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
However, it appears likely they will not be able to feature in athletics in Paris, arguably the highest-profile Olympic sport.
Russian forces may go to Kyiv or Lviv, says Medvedev
06:07 , Arpan Rai
Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev has said that the country’s forces may have to advance as far as Kyiv or Lviv in Ukraine.
“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 Mr Medvedev as saying today.
I brought two Ukrainian refugees to the US. One month later, this is what they think
06:00 , Emily Atkinson
“What you mean laundry shared?” 27-year-old Dima asked me in his clipped Slavic accent over Zoom.
“Washing machines in apartments are not common in New York,” I told him.
Dima scowled and muttered, “Not sanitary,” in Russian under his breath. I remembered how odd I had thought it was to have a washing machine in place of an oven in my previous apartment in Kyiv. Back then, I was an American experiencing culture shock. Now, Claire Cannon was preparing two refugees to do it all the other way round.
Hungary would not act on Putin arrest warrant, official says
05:00 , Emily Atkinson
Authorities in Hungary would not arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he were to enter the country despite him being the subject of an international warrant for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, a Hungarian official said Thursday.
Gergely Gulyas, chief of staff to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said during a news conference in Budapest that arresting Putin would contravene Hungarian law because the country has not promulgated the statute of the International Criminal Court into its legal system.
The court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, last week issued an arrest warrant for Putin that accused him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine.
Read more on this story here:
Delay in weapon delivery will allow Russia to prepare for years of war – Zelensky
04:07 , Arpan Rai
Volodymyr Zelensky has asked his European allies to increase and speed up their supply of weapons, as he called on them for long-range missiles, ammunition and modern aircraft after making battlefield visits in Luhansk, Kherson and Bakhmut.
He warned that any delay will give Russia time to regroup and strike harder.
“Let each meeting, each discussion, each day of our work together bring the return of peace closer – bring closer the liberation of our land and all of Europe from Russian evil. If Europe hesitates, evil may have time to regroup and prepare itself for years of war. It is in your power not to allow this to happen,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address yesterday.
In pictures: Zelensky awards Medals of Honour to Bakhmut servicemen
04:00 , Emily Atkinson
Russia likely shifting focus from Bakhmut
03:50 , Arpan Rai
With the war frontlines frozen since November and most battle seen concentrated in the eastern sector’s Bakhmut, analysts are witnessing a likely slowdown in the Russian offensive on the symbolic salt-mining city.
This could mean that Russia is diverting its troops and resources to other areas.
Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov agreed with the British assessment that Russia had made further gains in the north and hit the pause button on Bakhmut’s grinding battle.
The attacks on Bakhmut were decreasing, and Russia was shifting its efforts south to the town of Avdiivka, the military analyst said.
“Russia’s forces have become more active in areas to the north in the Kharkiv and Luhansk regions as well as central Zaporizhzhia and southern Kherson regions,” he said.
Britain said on Thursday that Russian troops had made gains further north this month, partially regaining control over the approaches to the town of Kreminna. Intense battles were also under way further south.
Any shift in momentum in Bakhmut, if confirmed, will be deemed remarkable and a step back by Russia for capturing the city.
Wagner fighters ‘running out of steam’, says Ukraine
03:27 , Arpan Rai
A Ukrainian top ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi has said Russia’s Wagner mercenaries “are losing considerable strength and are running out of steam”.
“Very soon, we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we did in the past near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk,” the commander said, listing Ukrainian counteroffensives last year that recaptured swathes of land.
Russia’s private mercenary group Wagner has positioned its troops at the front line of Moscow’s assault on eastern and southern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian commander added that his forces are set to begin a counter offensive soon after withstanding Russia’s brutal winter campaign.
Moscow or Wagner have not commented on reports that the Russian fighters in Bakhmut region are losing momentum.
Watch: Prince William thanks British troops near Ukrainian border for 'defending our freedoms'
03:00 , Emily Atkinson
King speaks of desire to visit Ukraine at opening of EBRD headquarters
02:00 , Emily Atkinson
Charles admired the artwork by 16-year-old Ukrainian Sofia Franchuk during a visit to open the global headquarters of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) which has invested heavily in Ukraine.
Hundreds of Ukrainian children have begun painting as part of the Kids and Art for Ukraine project, which provides humanitarian and educational support, and its organisers put on a display of some of their work for the King.
More on this story here:
Latest images from embattled Bakhmut
00:00 , Emily Atkinson
Russian officials seek another opposition activist's arrest
Thursday 23 March 2023 23:00 , Emily Atkinson
A Russian court on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for an opposition activist on charges of disparaging the military, and auhorities declared other activists and bloggers “foreign agents” amid efforts to muzzle criticism of Russia’s action in Ukraine.
More on this story from the Associated Press here:
Watch: Russia’s Medvedev issues new nuclear threat
Thursday 23 March 2023 22:00 , Emily Atkinson
Russian suspect facing extradition from Italy to US evades house arrest
Thursday 23 March 2023 21:00 , Emily Atkinson
A Russian businessman facing extradition from Italy to the United States has escaped from house arrest, Italian police say.
Artem Uss is due to face charges in the United States for shipping oil from Venezuela in breach of sanctions, and for bank fraud.
The suspect has been on the run at least since Wednesday afternoon, when his electronic tag sent out an “evasion alarm”, the Carabinieri police said in a statement.
Officers checked in at his home in Basiglio, in the outskirts of Milan, only to find that he had gone, and are now actively looking for him, the Carabinieri added.
❗️The son of Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Artem Uss, detained in #Italy on an international warrant, has escaped and is no longer under house arrest. A search for him is underway, Ansa news agency reported Thursday. https://t.co/EUJKSOWbFf
— Aurora Borealis (@aborealis940) March 23, 2023
Uss’ Italian lawyer Vinicio Nardo had no comment.
An Italian court had agreed to transfer the Russian to the United States on Tuesday, but only on two of the four counts with which he was charged by US authorities.
The court ruled against handing over the suspect for the additional alleged crimes of smuggling military technology from the United States to Russia and money laundering.
Zelensky tells Europe to offer more military aid or war could last years
Thursday 23 March 2023 20:00 , Emily Atkinson
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Europe to increase and speed up its supply of weapons to his country as well as impose additional sanctions on Russia, saying otherwise the war could drag on for years.
In a long and sharply worded video address to EU leaders, delivered from a train, Zelensiy said it was up to the 27-nation bloc to take action to contain Russia more than a year into its invasion of Ukraine.
In particular, he reiterated demands for long-range missiles, more ammunition and more modern aircraft, and said the EU needed to speed up the process to grant Ukraine membership.
“If Europe waits, the evil may have time to regroup and prepare for years of war. It is in your power to prevent this,” he said as EU leaders held talks with U.N. chief Antonio Guterres.
Zelensky was particularly critical of what he called the EU’s delay in signaling stronger sanctions against Russia.
Drone strikes and border trenches: Russia’s war on Ukraine comes home
Thursday 23 March 2023 19:15 , Emily Atkinson
Latest images from frontline in Soledar, near Bakhmut
Thursday 23 March 2023 18:34 , Emily Atkinson
Russian forces leave town in southern Kherson region - Ukrainian military
Thursday 23 March 2023 18:02 , Emily Atkinson
Russian forces have left the town of Nova Kakhovka in southern Kherson region, the Ukrainian military’s General Staff said on Thursday.
“As of 22nd March 2023, all units of the occupying army that had been deployed in the town of Nova Kakhovka in Kherson region, have left the city,” the General Staff said in its evening report outlining conditions on the front lines.
The town is located on the east bank of the Dnipro River, where Russian forces redeployed last November after abandoning positions on the west bank in the face of a counter-offensive by Ukrainian troops.
The report said Russian troops had stolen appliances, valuables, clothing and mobile telephones from nearby houses as they departed.
EU leaders endorse joint ammunition purchases for Ukraine
Thursday 23 March 2023 17:25 , Emily Atkinson
European Union leaders have endorsed a plan for sending Ukraine 1 million rounds of artillery ammunition within the next 12 months to help the country counter Russia’s invasion forces.
EU foreign and defense ministers approved the plan for a fast-track purchasing procedure earlier this week, and the leaders of the bloc’s 27 member nations gave it their political blessing at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.
“Taking into account the security and defense interests of all member states, the European Council welcomes the agreement ... to deliver ground-to-ground and artillery ammunition to Ukraine and, if requested, missiles,” the meeting’s conclusions on Ukraine read.
Finnish president signs Nato legislation
Thursday 23 March 2023 16:54 , Emily Atkinson
Finland president Sauli Niinisto signed legislation making his country part of Nato in a ceremony on Thursday.
Finland last year sought to join the military alliance in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, and legislation incorporating Nato’s founding treaties was passed in parliament in Helsinki on 1 March.
Hungary and Turkey, the only Nato members that have yet to ratify Finland’s membership, have both signaled that they will soon do so.
Ukrainian refugees to drive home because of UK registration fees
Thursday 23 March 2023 16:15 , Liam James
Two Ukrainian refugees are planning to drive their car more than 2,000 miles from Manchester to Dnipro and leave it in a “warzone” because of costly registration fees, ministers have heard.
Labour MP Jeff Smith told the Commons the refugees who had come to live in his Manchester Withington constituency faced the situation because of the high fees and bureaucracy around permanently registering their car in the UK.
Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said the decision they faced once their temporary registration expired was “crackers”.
According to Google Maps, the journey from Manchester to Dnipro would take 38 hours, and cover more than 2,000 miles through six countries.
No peace in Ukraine til Russian failure ‘very clear’, says Varadkar
Thursday 23 March 2023 15:37 , Liam James
Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has said he does not think peace in Ukraine is possible “until it’s very clear that Russia’s military objectives in Ukraine have failed”.
Speaking before a meeting of European leaders in Brussels where an ammunition deal would be discussed, Mr Varadkar said European support of Ukraine means increasing supply of ammunition.
He said there was now a need to support Ukraine to ensure an effort by Russia to “take its territory” and “overthrow its government” fails.
“That means supporting Ukraine in its fight and talking to other European governments. Part of that means increasing the supply of ammunitions,” he said.
He said due to Ireland’s military neutrality, it was not providing military aid but it was contributing to non-lethal equipment through the European Peace Facility.
Don’t give Hornets to Ukraine, says Finnish defence minister
Thursday 23 March 2023 14:45 , Liam James
Finland’s defence minister said he did not want to donate Hornet fighter jets to Ukraine, despite a Ukrainian request for such planes to help with its fight against Russia.
“My view as Finland’s defence minister is that we need these Hornets to secure our own country,” Antti Kaikkonen told a news conference in Helsinki.
“I view negatively the idea that they would be donated during the next few years. And if we look even further, my understanding is that they begin to be worn out and will have little use value left,” he said.
Finland will, however, give additional military equipment to Ukraine, including three more Leopard 2 tanks that come on top of a similar-sized donation made earlier, Kaikkonen told a news conference.
Slovakia sends first fighter jet to Ukraine
Thursday 23 March 2023 13:19 , Liam James
Slovakia has handed over the first four MiG-29 jets it has pledged to donate to Ukraine, with the rest of the planes to be delivered in the coming weeks, the Slovak Defence Ministry said today.
Slovakia last week joined fellow Nato member Poland in announcing the delivery of jets to Ukraine. In total, Slovakia said it would donate 13 of the Soviet-made planes.
Russia not delivering arms due to war, says India
Thursday 23 March 2023 13:22 , Liam James
Russia is unable to deliver vital defence supplies it had committed to India’s military because of the war in Ukraine, the Indian Air Force (IAF) says.
New Delhi has been worried that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 could affect military supplies from India’s largest source of defence equipment. The IAF statement is the first official confirmation of such shortfalls.
The IAF statement was made to a parliamentiary committee, which published it on its website on Tuesday. An IAF representative told the panel Russia had planned a “major delivery” this year that will not take place.
Put Putin on trial whether you can catch him or not, says Ukraine
Thursday 23 March 2023 12:30 , Liam James
Russian leaders should be put on trial for the invasion of Ukraine even if they cannot be arrested and brought to court in person, Kyiv’s top prosecutor said.
The International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin is effectively symbolic due to the court’s lack of jurisdiction in Russia.
But Ukrainian prosecutor general Andry Kostin said that a planned tribunal for the crime of aggression should hold so-called trials in absentia.
Speaking to Reuters at the Hague in the Netherlands, Mr Kostin said: “It’s important to deliver a matter of justice for international crimes even if perpetrators are not in the dock.”
Nuclear plant still ‘precarious’
Thursday 23 March 2023 12:00 , Liam James
The UN nuclear agency’s chief said that the situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant “remains precarious” following a Russian missile strike this month that disconnected the plant from the grid.
Europe’s largest nuclear power plant needs a reliable electricity supply to operate pumps that circulate water to cool reactors and pools holding nuclear fuel.
Since a Russian strike on 9 March, the plant has relied on a single backup power line that remains “disconnected and under repair”, according to Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“Nuclear safety at the ZNPP remains in a precarious state,” Mr Grossi said in a statement on Wednesday.
Thursday 23 March 2023 11:30 , Liam James
Poland will seek an additional €240m (£210m) in European Union funding to refinance military purchases for Ukraine, the Polish prime minister said on Thursday.
“Poland has already received about 200 million zlotys to refinance arms purchases for Ukraine,” Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters in Brussels ahead of an EU summit. “We want to ... obtain 240 million euros, another billion zlotys, for Poland.”
Spanish PM to discuss Ukraine with China’s Xi
Thursday 23 March 2023 10:53 , Liam James
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez said he would discuss a peace plan for Ukraine with Chinese president Xi Jinping during an official visit to China next week.
“We will also talk about Ukraine where the most important thing is to be able to guarantee a stable and lasting peace,” Sanchez told reporters in Brussels, where he attended an EU Summit.
Mr Xi started this week with a two-night stay in Moscow where he made several public shows of solidarity with Russian president Vladimir Putin – though he did not say he supported his ally’s war in Ukraine.
New Zealand soldier killed in Ukraine
Thursday 23 March 2023 09:30 , Liam James
An ex-soldier from New Zealand who co-founded a charity to help struggling veterans has been killed in Ukraine, authorities said.
Ukrainian authorities confirmed the death of Kane Te Tai and the New Zealand embassy in Poland was trying to find out more details, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.
Mr Te Tai in 2017 helped register the No Duff Charitable Trust to support veterans in crisis.
The trust said in a statement it was with “immense sadness” it was sharing the news that Mr Te Tai – who went by the code name Turtle in Ukraine – was killed in action.
“Without him, No Duff wouldn’t exist,” the trust said. “Kane had a huge heart and loved helping people. His loss leaves a huge hole in many lives from here to Eastern Europe.”
Russia takes back ground near Luhansk town – MoD
Thursday 23 March 2023 09:00 , Liam James
British intelligence said Russia had partially regained control over the approaches to the eastern Ukrainian town of Kreminna, after its troops were pushed back from the Luhansk territory earlier this year.
“In places, Russia has made gains of up to several kilometres,” the Ministry of Defence said in an update, adding that Russian commanders are likely trying to expand a security zone and are also seeking to recapture the logistic hub of Kupiansk in Kharkiv.
Russian forces earlier today unleashed a wave of air strikes in the north and south of Ukraine a day after Russian president Vladimir Putin bid farewell to Chinese leader Xi Jinping following a three-day visit to Moscow.
Attempt to arrest Putin would be declaration of war, says ally
Thursday 23 March 2023 08:40 , Liam James
Any attempt to arrest Vladimir Putin would be a declaration of war against Russia, the president’s ally Dmitry Medvedev said.
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant on Friday, accusing Mr Putin of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. It said there are reasonable grounds to believe the Russian leader bears individual criminal responsibility.
Former president Dmitry Medvedev told Russian media that the ICC, which countries including Russia, China and the United States do not recognise, was a “legal nonentity” that had never done anything significant.
On an attempt to arrest Mr Putin, he said: “Let’s imagine – obviously this situation which will never be realised – but nevertheless lets imagine that it was realised: The current head of the nuclear state went to a territory, say Germany, and was arrested,” Medvedev said.
“What would that be? It would be a declaration of war on the Russian Federation,” he said in a video posted on Telegram. “And in that case, all our assets – all our missiles et cetera – would fly to the Bundestag, to the chancellor’s office.”
EU set to reach deal on Ukraine ammunition boost
Thursday 23 March 2023 08:09 , Liam James
EU leaders are set to endorse a deal aimed at sending Ukraine 1 million rounds of artillery shells within the next 12 months to help defend against Russia’s invasion.
The fast-track procedure was adopted during a meeting of foreign and defence ministers earlier this week, and leaders gathered at a summit in Brussels today will give it a political blessing, according to several senior EU diplomats.
With Ukraine facing shortages of ammunition to fight Russia, the idea of setting up a joint purchasing plan of action similar to the one devised during the coronavirus pandemic to buy vaccines was first brought to the table last month by Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas.
‘Defensive’ Russia looking to recapture Luhank town – MoD
Thursday 23 March 2023 07:14 , Arpan Rai
Russian forces are likely looking to recapture a logistics node in Luhansk along the Ukrainian frontline, the British defence ministry said today.
The ministry pointed to heavy fighting brewing in parts of the Svatove-Kremina sector of the front line in northern Luhansk oblast since the start of March this year.
“Russia has partially regained control over the immediate approaches to Kremina town, which was under immediate Ukrainian threat earlier in the year,” the ministry said.
It added that in places, Russia has made gains of up to several kilometres.
“Russian commanders are likely trying to expand a security zone west from the defence lines they have prepared along higher ground, and integrate the natural obstacle of the Oskil River,” the MoD said.
It added: “Operationally, Russia’s intent in the north-east likely remains defensive. Commanders probably fear this is one of the sectors where Ukraine could attempt major offensive operations.”
More than 600 Russian troops killed in past day as Bakhmut offensive likely stalling
Thursday 23 March 2023 06:56 , Arpan Rai
The Ukraine military has said that 660 Russian troops, 13 tanks, one air defence system, 11 armoured personnel carriers were destroyed in the past day in the latest war update this morning.
The Ukrainian military’s general staff agreed with the latest intelligence from the UK’s MoD, which suggested the potential for Russia to make gains in Bakhmut was declining.
“The enemy continues to conduct offensive operations, suffering major casualties, losing significant amount of weapons and military equipment,” said the general staff of the Ukraine army in today’s report.
“Ukrainian defenders have been repelling numerous round-the-clock enemy attacks in the vicinities of Bakhmut, Bohdanivka, and Predtechyne,” the general staff said, adding that numerous settlements near the line of contact were shelled.
Bakhmut is a key objective for Moscow, which sees the town as a stepping stone toward completing its conquest of the eastern Donbas region even though the salt-mining city holds little strategic value in the war.
Any move to arrest Putin will be ‘declaration of war’, says former Russian PM
Thursday 23 March 2023 06:32 , Arpan Rai
Former Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev has said that a bid by any nation to arrest Vladimir Putin based on the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court will be considered as a “declaration of war”.
The remark made to Russian news agency TASS published today is the first such reaction after the international court in The Hague confirmed an arrest warrant against Mr Putin over charges of taking Ukrainian children to Russia.
It means the court’s 123 member states must detain Mr Putin and hand him over for trial if he sets foot on their territory.
West won’t leave Russia, China alone, says former Russian PM
Thursday 23 March 2023 06:30 , Arpan Rai
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has accused the West of disliking Russia and China’s independence in his remarks today.
“The coming decades will not be quiet,” Mr Medvedev claimed, as he accused the West without evidence of trying to break Russia up into smaller and weaker states.
“I believe that sooner or later the situation will stabilise and communications will resume, but I sincerely hope that by that time a significant part of those people (Western leaders) will have retired and some will be dead,” the Russian leader said.
He added that Ukraine was part of “Greater Russia”, and added that he saw no prospects for reviving Russia’s ties with the West in the near future.
Russia dusting off tanks from 1950s to make up for battlefield losses — report
Thursday 23 March 2023 06:13 , Arpan Rai
The Russian military is now looking to clean up tanks from the Soviet era and likely use them in the continuing war in Ukraine, according to the US-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War.
“Russian forces may be deploying T-54/55 tanks from long-term storage to Ukraine to compensate for significant armoured vehicle losses,” the ISW said in its latest assessment of the war.
The T-54/55 tanks were first introduced in 1948.
Yesterday, Russian forces were seen transporting a train loaded with T-54/55 tanks from Primorsky Krai towards western Russia, and social media sources speculated that Russia may deploy them to Ukraine, according to the Georgia-based open-source Conflict Intelligence Team research group.
The ISW cited Dutch open-source group Oryx’s assessment as of 22 March that Russia has lost at least 57 T-90, 448 T-80, 1,025 T-72, 53 T-64, and 73 T-62 tanks in highly attritional fighting in Ukraine.
“Russian armoured vehicle losses are currently constraining the Russian military’s ability to conduct effective mechanised manoeuvre warfare installing offensives in Ukraine, and Russian forces may be deploying T-54/55 tanks from storage to Ukraine to augment these offensive operations and prepare for anticipated mechanised Ukrainian counter offensives,” it added.
I brought two Ukrainian refugees to the US. One month later, this is what they think
Thursday 23 March 2023 06:00 , Emily Atkinson
After Clare Cannon made the decision to sponsor Katya and Dima to settle in New York, she knew she’d be responsible for helping them overcome their culture shock. Here, she documents one month of ups and downs in the US — and what actually happens to Ukrainian refugees once they arrive on American soil.
Putin planning for more war, not seeking peace — Nato chief
Thursday 23 March 2023 05:44 , Arpan Rai
Nato’s secretary general has said that Vladimir Putin is not looking to end the war in Ukraine anytime in the near future and is instead gearing up for more war.
“President Putin doesn’t plan for peace, he’s planning for more war,” Jens Stoltenberg told the Guardian.
He added that Moscow is ramping up its military industrial production and “reaching out to authoritarian regimes like Iran or North Korea, and others to try to get more weapons” in a bid to fuel the war.
This requires Ukraine’s allies in the West to be prepared to back the war-hit nation with weapons for a long time.
“The need will continue to be there, because this is a war of attrition; this is about industrial capacity to sustain the support,” he said.
Swedish lawmakers vote to endorse country joining Nato
Thursday 23 March 2023 05:00 , Emily Atkinson
Swedish lawmakers overwhelmingly voted Wednesday in favor of Sweden joining Nato, signing off on the country’s membership along with the required legislation.
The 349-seat parliament authorized Sweden’s accession to Nato in a 269-37 vote, with 43 lawmakers absent. It was the last required domestic hurdle to the country becoming part of the 30-member Western military alliance.
Six of the eight parties represented in parliament were in favor of Nato membership, and the vote that followed a nearly seven-hour debate was seen as a formality.
Ukrainian soldiers acing Patriot system training in US – report
Thursday 23 March 2023 04:55 , Arpan Rai
Ukrainian forces are almost ready to use the Patriot missile defence system on the battlefield to protect their war-hit nation, with the air defence system expected to reach Ukraine soon.
The soldiers sent to the US to master the air defence system have shown impressive adeptness at learning one of the best war machines, officials told Politico.
“The Ukrainian soldiers are impressive, and absolutely a quick study,” Brig. Gen. Shane Morgan, commanding general of the Army’s Fires Centre of Excellence told Politico.
He added: “Due to their extensive air defence knowledge and experience in a combat zone, it was easier — though it’s never easy — for them to grasp the Patriot system.”
“They are the best of the best in what they do in air defence for Ukraine,” the US military general said.
A senior Fort Sill official said that the Ukrainian forces who are training have moved rapidly through the assignment even as the course was conceived to be a 10-week basic programme.
Zelensky visits wounded soldiers in Bakhmut
Thursday 23 March 2023 04:24 , Arpan Rai
Volodymyr Zelensky returned to the battlefield areas in the war-hit Ukraine and visited several troops, staff and commanders in Donbas and Kharkiv, with a dedicated trip to besieged Bakhmut.
“I started from the front, from the Bakhmut area. It is an honor for me to support our warriors who are defending the country in the toughest frontline conditions. I presented state awards, thanked our soldiers for their bravery, for their resilience, for Ukraine - which we are preserving thanks to such heroes, thanks to each and every one of them who is fighting against Russian evil,” Mr Zelensky said.
A video of his visit showed the Ukrainian president visiting a gas station, clicking photos with the staff, meeting with commanders in unspecified bunkers and thanking the Ukrainian soldiers fighting on ground.
“I paid a visit to the wounded warriors. I wished them - and I’m sure on behalf of all of you, all of our people - a speedy recovery. I thanked the doctors and nurses. And now I want to thank everyone who supports our soldiers recovering from injuries. Who helps with everything necessary, our doctors, everyone who works for rehabilitation after injuries. I am grateful to every volunteer, every partner of ours who helps!” he said in his nightly address.
The war-time president said that it is “distressing to look at the cities of Donbas, to which Russia has brought terrible suffering and ruin”.
“The almost constant, hourly air-alert siren in Kramatorsk, the constant threat of shelling, the constant threat to life... Right there, in Donbas, in the Kharkiv region — wherever Russian evil has come, it is obvious that the terrorist state cannot be stopped by anything other than one thing — our victory. And we will ensure it — the Ukrainian victory,” he said.
Latest images from the frontline in eastern Ukraine
Thursday 23 March 2023 04:00 , Emily Atkinson
Threat of ‘nuclear apocalypse’ growing, says former Russian president
Thursday 23 March 2023 03:53 , Arpan Rai
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has said that the threat of nuclear conflict is only rising and the constant arms supply to Ukraine is bringing a “nuclear apocalypse” closer.
"Has the threat of a nuclear conflict passed? No, it has not passed. It has increased. Each day when foreign weapons are delivered to Ukraine ultimately brings this same nuclear apocalypse closer…,” the deputy chairman of the Russian security council said in a video he shared on his Telegram.
“I have the feeling that until a certain point in time, they did not believe in and did not see the extent of Russia’s determination, or the determination of its president or the supreme commander, to do what we did. And they miscalculated. The consequences are much more complicated than they could have been if they had signed a document with us in December," he said, without sharing more details of the document.
Overnight drone attacks rattle Ukraine
Thursday 23 March 2023 03:27 , Arpan Rai
Russia swarmed Ukrainian cities with multiple drone attacks overnight in a display of force after the Chinese president departed from Russia.
A total of nine people have been reportedly killed in the slew of attacks in Zaporizhzhia and south of Kyiv in Rzhyshchiv, officials said.
Of these, officials said one person was killed and 33 were injured in a twin missile strike in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia.
Another eight people were killed and seven were injured in a drone attack in Rzhyshchiv where two dormitories and a college were struck, regional police chief Andrii Nebytov said.
Glass, debris and wrecked cars were visible at a playground and a car park at the scene in Zaporizhzhia as emergency workers carried out the wounded or escorted those who could walk.
Russia has claimed that it does not strike civilian areas and is only targeting the military in its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Slovakia offered US helicopters for giving jets to Ukraine
Thursday 23 March 2023 03:00 , Emily Atkinson
The United States has offered Slovakia 12 new military helicopters as compensation for the MiG-29 fighter jets the European country is giving to Ukraine, Slovakia’s defense minister said Wednesday.
Under the offer, Slovakia would pay $340 million for the Bell AH-1Z attack choppers in a deal worth about $1 billion that also includes 500 AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles and training, Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said.
US foreign military financing would cover the other $660 million, he said. The European Union also would send Slovakia 200 million euros ($213 million) in additional compensation, Nad said.
Russia and Belarus barred from next season’s ice hockey worlds
Thursday 23 March 2023 02:00 , Emily Atkinson
The IIHF cited security concerns for players, competition staff and fans — because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — to extend the exclusion that will stretch beyond two years when the 2023-24 season is over.
“It is too soon,” IIHF president Luc Tardif said about letting Russia return. “Too many risks.”
Analysis: China's sway over Russia grows amid Ukraine fight
Thursday 23 March 2023 01:00 , Emily Atkinson
It was a revealing moment during Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s tightly scripted visit to Moscow: Standing in the doorway of the Grand Kremlin Palace, he told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the two of them were “witnessing the changes that haven’t been seen in more than a century, and we are pushing them together.”
“I agree,” Putin responded.
The remarks — caught on a Kremlin camera over a bodyguard’s shoulder — offered a rare glimpse into Xi’s ambitions and his relationship with Russia after more than a year of fighting in Ukraine.
Xi Jinping’s parting comment to Putin on leaving Moscow: ‘Changes are happening’
Thursday 23 March 2023 00:00 , Emily Atkinson
Xi Jinping had a parting comment about China for his “dear friend” Vladimir Putin as he concluded his two-day trip to Moscow.
On Tuesday evening, Mr Xi shook Mr Putin’s hand and talked about unprecedented change.
“Change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years. And we are driving this change together,” he said.
Maroosha Muzaffar has more:
US weighs in on Moscow’s reaction to depleted uranium tank ammunition
Wednesday 22 March 2023 23:00 , Emily Atkinson
The US has accused Russia of “driving a stake” through “yet another straw man” over Moscow’s assertion the UK increased the chances of a “nuclear collision” by supplying Ukraine with depleted uranium tank shells.
Asked about Russia’s remarks, US defence department spokesman John Kirby said: “Well, certainly we would let the the UK speak for itself in terms of what sovereign decisions they’re going to make about providing ammunition but I mean, make no mistake, this is yet another straw man through which the Russians are driving a stake.
“This kind of ammunition is fairly commonplace been in use for for decades. I think what’s really going on here is Russia just doesn’t want Ukraine to continue to take out its tanks and and, and render them inoperative.”
China ‘very carefully’ West’s response to Russian invasion, says Blinken
Wednesday 22 March 2023 22:00 , Emily Atkinson
China is “very carefully” watching how Washington and the world respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but has not yet crossed the line of providing lethal aid to Moscow, US secretary of state Antony Blinken has said.
Speaking on the heels of a visit to Moscow by Chinese president Xi Jinping, Blinken told a Senate hearing that if Russia was allowed to attack its neighbor with impunity, it would “open a Pandora’s box” for would-be aggressors and lead to a “world of conflict.”
“The stakes in Ukraine go well beyond Ukraine. ... I think it has a profound impact in Asia, for example,” Blinken said, noting that Japan and South Korea had been major supporters of Ukraine in the conflict.
However, he said he did not believe that China has been providing lethal aid to Moscow.
“As we speak today, we have not seen them cross that line,” Blinken told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, the first of four times he will testify to congressional committees this week.
World Bank puts cost of rebuilding Ukraine at $411 billion
Wednesday 22 March 2023 21:02 , Emily Atkinson
A World Bank report released on Wednesday puts the cost of Ukraine‘s recovery and rebuilding from Russia’s invasion at $411 billion over the next decade, with the cost of cleaning up the war rubble alone at $5 billion.
The report provides both sweeping and closely detailed looks at some of the toll of Russia’s war in Ukraine: at least 9,655 civilians confirmed dead, including 465 children; nearly 2 million homes damaged; more than one out of five public health institutions damaged; and 650 ambulances damaged or looted.
In all, the World Bank calculated $135 billion in direct damage to buildings and infrastructure so far, not counting broader economic damage.
The damage would be even worse if not for the strong defense mounted by the Ukrainian forces, Anna Bjerde, the World Bank vice president for Europe and Central Asia, noted in a call with reporters. She said the worst damage has been confined to the front-line regions of Donetsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Kherson.
As it is, the World Bank said, Russia’s invasion has undone 15 years of economic progress in Ukraine, cutting Ukraine‘s gross domestic product by 29 per cent and pushing 1.7 million Ukrainians into poverty.
Zelensky points to Xi’s Moscow visit as he hits out at Russian strikes
Wednesday 22 March 2023 20:00 , Emily Atkinson
Volodymyr Zelensky made an apparent reference to Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow while condeming the latest waves of Russian strikes on Ukraine.
Mr Zelensky tweeted: “Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes.”
It came after Russia blasted an apartment block in Ukraine with missiles on Wednesday and swarmed cities with drone attacks overnight.
Over 20 Iranian murderous drones, plus missiles, numerous shelling occasions, and that's just in one last night of Russian terror against 🇺🇦. Every time someone tries to hear the word "peace" in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes. 1/2
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 22, 2023