© Reuters. Ukrainian soldiers of the 80th Brigade paratroopers take cover as they fire a mortar shell at a frontline position near Bakhmut, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Donetsk region, Ukraine March 16, 2023. REUTERS / Violeta Santos Moura
(Reuters) – Russian drones attacked Ukrainian towns and missiles blew up a building, but a months-long ground assault on the eastern town of Bakhmut could be stalled in the face of fierce resistance, according to Ukrainian and British military experts .
* At least nine people died in Russian airstrikes which Ukrainian President Zelenskiy said showed Moscow was not interested in peace.
* Zelenskiy’s office released a video of him handing out medals to troops he said were near the Bakhmut frontline.
* Britain’s military intelligence said on Thursday that Russia had partially regained control of the approaches to the eastern Ukrainian town of Kreminna after its troops were pushed back from the area earlier this year.
* The Russian-backed administration in Sevastopol suspended ferry routes around the Crimean port, shortly after its governor said air defenses repelled a Ukrainian drone attack.
* Reuters could not immediately verify reports from the battlefield.
* Peace plans and pipelines: What came out of the Putin-Xi talks?
* Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping discussed a major new infrastructure project, Power-of-Siberia 2, to deliver gas to China via Mongolia. However, Russia is still waiting for a deal and China has strong leverage to secure favorable pricing terms. China is not expected to need additional gas supply until 2030.
* During his two-day visit, Xi barely mentioned the conflict in Ukraine beyond saying that China has an “even-handed stance”.
* US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China was watching the global response to the invasion “very carefully” but had not yet crossed the line of providing lethal aid to Moscow.
* Any attempt to arrest Putin after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the Kremlin chief would amount to a declaration of war against Russia, his ally Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday.
* EU leaders will discuss the war in Ukraine with UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday and will also approve a plan to increase the supply of artillery shells to kyiv.
* Turkish President Erdogan said he would have a phone call in two to three days with Putin to discuss the Black Sea grain export deal for Ukraine and Russia, the agency reported. Anadolu press.
* Rebuilding Ukraine’s economy is expected to cost $411 billion, or 2.6 times Ukraine’s gross domestic product forecast for 2022, according to an international study.
* The spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians says Russia’s mighty Orthodox Church shares responsibility for the conflict in Ukraine.