Ukraine Daily Summary - Saturday, March 18

Ukraine needs more advanced aircraft than MiG-29s -- Celebrated tank brigade braces for harder battles in Donbas -- ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin, Russia's Bakhmut offensives lowest since January -- Several EU countries to sign deal to send artillery shells to Ukraine -- and more

Saturday, March 18

Russia’s war against Ukraine

A Ukranian tank opens fire along the frontline south of Bakhmut in the town of Toretsk, Ukraine on March 17, 2023. (Photo by Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

BREAKING: ICC issues arrest warrants for Putin, Russian official tied to kidnapping of Ukrainian children. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official allegedly overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Zelensky calls Putin arrest warrant ‘historic’, discusses frontline situation with military. President Volodymyr Zelensky said during his nightly address on March 17 that the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin was “historic” and there was a “real prospect” to see justice served.

Biden: Putin has committed war crimes, charges justified. U.S. President Joe Biden said that the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin is justified. “He’s clearly committed war crimes,” Biden added.

UK Defense Ministry: Pace of Russian offensives across front line ‘lowest since January.’ Russia’s regular army and Wagner Group forces have recently “obtained footholds” west of the Bakhmutka river in the center of Bakhmut, where the Ukrainian military continues its defense, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on March 17. “However, more broadly across the front line, Russia is conducting some of the lowest rates of local offensive action seen since at least January 2023.”

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Air Force: 11 out of 16 Shahed drones downed by Ukraine overnight. Ukrainian air defense shot down 11 out of 16 Iranian-made Shahed drones Russia launched at Ukraine late on March 17, Air Force reported.

Military official: Ukraine needs more advanced aircraft than MiG-29s. The the jets will strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities when it comes to patrolling Ukrainian airspace, fighter cover, and intercepting mass missile and drone attacks. However, the Soviet-era aircraft are ultimately “not effective” against Russia due to antiquated radar and missiles, Air Force spokesperson Yuri Ihnat said.

Military: Russia’s troops attempting to surround Bakhmut, suffering heavy losses. Russia has used all its forces in Bakhmut in an effort to completely surround the city, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ground Forces of Ukraine said on March 17.

China’s Xi Jinping to visit Russia on March 20-22. The state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Russia will take place from March 20 to 22, according to a statement published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. It will be Xi’s first trip to Russia since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine started in February last year.

Read our exclusives

Our readers’ questions about the war, answered.

We asked the patrons of the Kyiv Independent to share the questions they have about the war. Here’s what they asked and how we answered. Join our community of patrons to ask a question in the next round.

Photo: Getty Images

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Celebrated tank brigade braces for harder battles in Donbas.

The Donbas battlefront meanders for over 1,000 kilometers through a land that has not known peace since 2014. In some points like Bakhmut, it flares into a meat grinder of incalculable human loss. At others, it appears to be coiled and waiting, limited to probing attacks by Russians looking for a chink in the nation’s armor.

Photo: Anna Conkling

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Ukraine war latest: ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin, Russia’s Bakhmut offensives ’lowest since January.’

As Russia’s crimes against Ukraine become more visible, on March 17, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official allegedly overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Photo: Getty Images

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The human cost of Russia’s war

2 killed, 9 injured as Russia attacks 8 Ukrainian regions over past 24 hours. Russian attacks killed two civilians and injured eight in Donetsk Oblast, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported on March 17. One more person was wounded in Kherson Oblast, which Russia struck 76 times in the past 24 hours, according to the regional administration.

Landmine explosions injure 2 in Kharkiv, Kherson oblasts. A 66-year-old woman was wounded in an explosion caused by a Russian anti-personnel mine in a forest in Kharkiv Oblast’s Izium, Governor Oleh Syniehubov reported on March 17. Another civilian stepped on a Russian landmine when collecting firewood in a village in southern Kherson Oblast, according to the regional administration.

General Staff: Russia has lost 163,320 troops in Ukraine since Feb. 24, 2022. Ukraine’s General Staff reported on March 17 that Russia had also lost 3,506 tanks, 6,823 armored fighting vehicles, 5,401 vehicles and fuel tanks, 2,552 artillery systems, 504 multiple launch rocket systems, 265 air defense systems, 305 airplanes, 290 helicopters, 2,145 drones, and 18 boats.

Insights and opinions

Timothy Ash: Is China serious about peace?

Check out this op-ed by Timothy Ash, emerging market strategist.

Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

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Alexander Vindman: ’Russia has failed to subordinate Ukraine.’

Check out this interview with Alexander Vindman, retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who was the Director for European Affairs for the U.S. National Security Council.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images

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International response

Slovakia to send Ukraine 13 MiG-29 jets. The Slovak government has approved providing Ukraine with 13 MiG-29 fighter jets, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said on March 17. This decision makes Slovakia the second NATO member state after Poland to pledge the aircraft to Ukraine.

Media: Belgium to provide Ukraine with 240 military trucks. “The focus is often on arms deliveries, but the Ukrainian units are also really waiting for these trucks. During a conflict, logistics are at least as important as weapons,” the Belgian defense ministry said, cited by De Standaard.

Reuters: Several EU countries to sign deal to send artillery shells to Ukraine. A high-ranking EU official has confirmed that “several” member states will likely sign an agreement on March 20 to provide Ukraine with 155 mm artillery shells.

EU official: Ukraine to receive second tranche of 18 billion euro aid package next week. The European Union will provide Ukraine with 1.5 billion euros as the second tranche of an 18 billion euro macro-financial assistance package, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said on March 17.

In other news

Ukraine returns 8 civilians from Syrian captivity. Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate reported on March 17 it had returned two Ukrainian women and six children from Syrian captivity. According to the report, the Ukrainians were kept in “terrible conditions” in Syria.

Media: Scandalous education minister to resign. Education and Science Minister Serhiy Shkarlet is expected to resign on March 17, Ukrainska Pravda reported on March 17, citing three government sources.

Media: Turkey, Hungary to ratify Finland’s NATO bid. After months of Hungary delaying their decision on Finland’s NATO bid and Turkey threatening to veto it, both countries are finally ready to support Finland’s application to join the alliance. However, they have not yet made a decision on supporting the application of Sweden, which is also seeking to join NATO.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Olga Rudenko, Dinara Khalilova, Oleg Sukhov, Kate Tsurkan, and Anastasiya Gordiychuk.

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