Here is the situation as it stands on Sunday, March 19, 2023:
- Ukrainian army says its forces outside the eastern city of Bakhmut are managing to keep Russian units at bay so ammunition, food, equipment and medicines can be delivered to defenders.
- Russia’s Wagner mercenary group plans to recruit some 30,000 new fighters by the middle of May, its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said.
- Russian attacks killed two people and wounded 10 in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Saturday, a governor said, accusing Moscow of using cluster bombs in the attack.
- President Vladimir Putin has toured Mariupol, nearly one year after Moscow claimed to have captured the strategic port city. This is the Russian leader’s first trip to the Donbas region since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict in February last year.
- Putin went to Crimea on Saturday on an unannounced visit to mark the ninth anniversary of Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine.
- A deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain was renewed for at least 60 days – half the intended period – after Russia warned any further extension beyond mid-May would depend on the removal of some Western sanctions.
- Three senior US security officials held a video call with a group of their Ukrainian counterparts to discuss military aid to Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff said.
- President Xi Jinping heads to Russia on Monday hoping to deliver a breakthrough on Ukraine as China seeks to position itself as a peacemaker.
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