As the Russo-Ukrainian War enters its 388th day, we take a look at the major developments.
Here is the situation as it stands on Saturday, March 18, 2023:
International Penal Court
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for war crimes for Russian President Vladimir Putin, alleging that Moscow forcibly deported Ukrainian children to Russia. Russian authorities presented the deportations as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and abandoned children in the conflict zone.
- The ICC has also issued a warrant against Maria Lvova-Belova, Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, for the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the deportations were a policy of “state evil” and that the ICC’s mandate would provide “historical accountability” for crimes committed against Ukraine by Russia.
- The ICC arrest warrant required the 123 member states of the Court to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Russia next week for a state visit after an invitation from Putin.
- US Secretary of Defense 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 UN said it is “doing everything possible” to ensure that a deal with Russia allowing the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports continues.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said its board had authorized rule changes that would allow the IMF to approve new lending programs for countries facing “exceptionally high uncertainty”, which should open up the way to a new loan program for Ukraine.
- The Turkish parliament will begin to ratify Finnish accession to NATO, although he was slow to endorse Sweden’s bid to join the defense bloc. Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership applications were prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Turkey’s decision and said he was confident Sweden would soon join as well.
- Moldovan President Maia Sandu said she did not see danger of war in Moldova while Russia is fighting in Ukraine, despite what she said were Russian efforts to destabilize her country. “The Russian army cannot get here as long as Ukraine resists… We are grateful to the Ukrainians for their bravery and their love of freedom,” she said.
- Ukrainian forces in the east of the country continue to resist Russian assaults on the now destroyed town of Bakhmut, which became Europe’s bloodiest infantry battle since World War II. Russian forces have captured the eastern part of the city but have so far failed to encircle Bakhmut and cut supply lines for Ukrainian troops.
- The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Russia carried out 19 airstrikes and 26 rocket attacks against Bakhmut on Friday. Russian forces also carried out four airstrikes on the front town of Avdiivka, south of Bakhmut, the military said.
- The United States 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 which, according to Washington, caused the crash of the unmanned plane.
- Prime Minister Eduard Heger said that Slovakia approved send 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 do it.