Here is the situation as it stands on Monday, March 20, 2023:
- Putin made a surprise visit to the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Sunday in a trip condemned by members of its exiled city council.
- Ukrainian forces outside the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut are managing to keep Russian units at bay so ammunition, food, equipment and medicines can be delivered to defenders, according to the army.
- Three civilians have been killed and two wounded in Russian shelling of a residential building in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhia on Sunday, regional officials said.
- The Kremlin has claimed drone flights by the United States over the Black Sea are a sign of “direct” US involvement in the conflict.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow to hold talks with Putin. Xi has called for a “rational way” out of the conflict based on a 12-point proposal released by Beijing last month.
- Xi will be the first world leader to shake Putin’s hand since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader on Friday over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia since the start of the war. Moscow rejects the charge.
- In an article, Xi said China’s proposal to end the Ukraine crisis reflects global views and seeks to neutralise consequences, but he acknowledged solutions are not easy.
- The United States and its Western allies are deeply sceptical of China’s motives, noting it has declined to condemn Russia and provided it with an economic lifeline.
- Putin has welcomed Chinese efforts to play a “constructive role” to try and end the crisis. The Russian president referred to Xi as his “good old friend”.
- Russia has extended by 60 days a Black Sea grain deal that allows Kyiv to export its products overseas.
Justice ministers from around the world are set to meet in London to discuss scaling up support for the International Criminal Court after it issued an arrest warrant for Putin on charges of war crimes for the deportation of hundreds of children from Ukraine.
- Several European Union countries will sign an agreement on Monday in Brussels to buy 155 mm artillery shells for Ukraine. Kyiv has identified the supply of 155 mm shells as a critical need, with both sides firing thousands of artillery rounds every day.