As the Russia-Ukraine war enters its 388th day, we take a look at the main developments.
Here is the situation as it stands on Saturday, March 18, 2023:
International Criminal Court
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a war crimes arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, alleging that Moscow forcibly deported Ukrainian children to Russia. Russian authorities have presented the deportations as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.
- The ICC also issued a warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, for the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine.
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the deportations constituted a policy of “state evil” and the ICC warrant would provide “historic accountability” for crimes committed against Ukraine by Russia.
- The ICC arrest warrant obligates the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Russia next week for a state visit after an invitation from Putin.
- US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley spoke of their “unwavering support” for Ukraine during a call with their Ukrainian counterparts on Friday.
- The United Nations said it was “doing everything possible” to make sure a deal with Russia allowing the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports continues.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said its executive board authorised rule changes that would allow the IMF to approve new loan programmes for countries that face “exceptionally high uncertainty”, which is expected to pave the way for a new Ukraine loan programme.
- Turkey’s parliament will start ratifying Finland’s accession to NATO, though it has held off on approving Sweden’s bid to join the defence bloc. Finland and Sweden’s applications for NATO membership were prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg hailed Turkey’s decision on Friday and said he was confident Sweden would join soon, too.
- Moldova’s President Maia Sandu said she sees no danger of war in Moldova while Russia is fighting in Ukraine, despite what she said are Russian efforts to destabilise her country. “The Russian army cannot get here while Ukraine holds out … We are grateful to Ukrainians for their bravery and love of freedom,” she said.
- Ukrainian forces in the east of the country continue to withstand Russian assaults on the now-destroyed city of Bakhmut, which has become Europe’s bloodiest infantry battle since World War II. Russian forces have captured the city’s eastern part but have so far failed to encircle Bakhmut and cut off Ukrainian troop supply lines.
- The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said Russia carried out 19 air attacks and 26 rocket attacks against Bakhmut on Friday. Russian forces also conducted four air strikes on the front-line town of Avdiivka south of Bakhmut, the army said.
- The US has resumed surveillance drone flights over the Black Sea region just days after Russian fighter jets intercepted a US Reaper surveillance drone and engaged in actions that Washington said caused the uncrewed aircraft to crash.
- Prime Minister Eduard Heger said that Slovakia has approved sending its fleet of 11 retired MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Slovakia is the second country to send warplanes to Kyiv after Poland said it would do so.