As the war between Russia and Ukraine enters its 394th day, we take a look at the main developments.
This is the state of affairs on Friday, March 24, 2023:
- 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 charges of war crimes. Hungary signed and ratified the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, but Hungarian officials said the Rome Statute was not built into Hungary’s legal system, so there was no basis to arrest Putin.
- Any attempt to detain Putin under the command of the International Criminal Court would amount to a “declaration of war,” said former Russian president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev.
- European Union leaders held talks with Ukrainian President Volodmy Zelenskyy, who called on the bloc to equip its troops with more modern weapons, particularly fighter jets and long-range missiles. Zelensky told EU leaders that “delays” in sending fighter jets and long-range missiles would prolong the war.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping has invited Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to Beijing for a state visit as Xi seeks to boost support for China’s Ukraine peace proposal.
- Moscow said it does not expect transparency in an investigation into the Nord Stream gas pipeline explosions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
- Ukrainian commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said Russian forces fighting in Bakhmut “lost considerable strength and are running out of steam”. He indicated that a Ukrainian counter-offensive was imminent.
- Kiev has accused mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group of deporting residents of Bakhmut, a now-devastated city, to Russia.
- Ukraine was forced to retract a report alleging Russian troops had left the town of Nova Kakhovka in the southern Kherson region.
- The international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders has revealed the widespread destruction of health facilities in Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion in a new report.
- Zelensky has posted footage of his visit to Kherson, in which he vowed to “repair everything” in a city that Russia occupied for eight months and left in ruins.
- According to the British Ministry of Defence, there has been heavy fighting on the front lines in the Luhansk region since the beginning of March.
- NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has rejected Russian complaints about the British supply of depleted uranium tank munitions to Ukraine along with Challenger 2 tanks
- Poland is seeking another €240 million ($261 million) in EU funding to refinance military purchases for Ukraine, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.
- Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has spoken out against a weakening of sanctions against Russia, which Moscow has demanded in return for extending a deal that would allow Ukraine to export grain across the Black Sea.
- Slovakia’s defense ministry said the country has handed over the first four of its Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, and the rest of the 13 promised aircraft will be delivered in the coming weeks.
- EU leaders have confirmed a plan to deliver 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine over the next year.
- Finland’s defense minister said he did not want to donate Hornet fighter jets to Ukraine despite Kiev’s request.