Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1627 GMT:
Russian shelling has killed three civilians and injured two in the village of Kamyanske in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine.
UPDATE 1137 GMT:
Vladimir Putin has signed laws to punish anyone whose posts are deemed to “discredit” or to share “fakes” about Russian volunteers and mercenaries fighting in Ukraine.
The measures extend similar laws passed last year about Russia’s military. They now apply to “volunteer formations, organizations, or individuals” providing “assistance in the performance of tasks assigned to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”.
A first time offense of “discrediting” volunteers or mercenaries carries a fine of up to 50,000 rubles (about $650) for individuals; 200,000 rubles ($2,600) for officials; and 500,000 ($6,500) for organizations.
Repeat offenses will be felony crimes with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
UPDATE 1128 GMT:
The People’s Friendship University of Russia has fired the Vice Rector for Student Affairs, Sergey Bazavluk, after an exhibition at the university featured a Ukrainian flag.
The exhibition at the end of February was devoted to national communities. It featured a section on Ukrainian culture.
Russia’s Science and Higher Education Ministry launched an investigation, as Deputy Minister Konstantin Mogilevsky condemned the display of the Ukrainian flag as that “of a state currently headed by a neo-Nazi regime, a state whose armed formations kill under that flag”.
Bazavluk noted that the university’s chief mission is to unite people of different nationalities and that students from Ukraine studying in Russia need support.
Bazavluk has been replaced by Mikhail Katsarsky, who served for more than eight years on the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of Parliament.
UPDATE 0846 GMT:
Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian President and currently deputy chair of the State Security Council, has commented on the possible indictment of Donald Trump on a financial felony charge.
The jerks in Europe wanted to arrest someone else, and on March 21 they will arrest their own in America.
Take back your country, Americans! Fight back! Destroy the tyranny of Washington! Send the corrupt clique of insane pigukrphile father and son Biden to the stinking junkyard of history! MAGA🤡🤡🤡🤡!
UPDATE 0834 GMT:
Trying to rally support for his troubled invasion, Vladimir Putin has visited Russian-occupied areas in southern Ukraine.
Putin was in Crimea on Saturday and in the port city of Mariupol — seized in May after 12 weeks of bombing, ground attacks, and siege killing tens of thousands of people — on Sunday.
The appearances comes on the 9th anniversary of Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea, and two days after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest over the deportations of Ukrianian children.
Amazingly it appears that Putin did visit Mariupol. It’s taken over a year to get close to the frontline. He drove around & spoke with residents. I still reserve judgement. Putin has many doubles & the ‘grateful’ residents were likely security personnel in civvies! pic.twitter.com/fQQxNFNqD7
— Dr Stephen Hall (@stephengfhall) March 19, 2023
UPDATE 0812 GMT:
Russian strikes on Saturday killed two civilians and wounded 10 in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine.
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said a park was targeted and a dozen residential buildings damaged.
Reporters heard about 10 almost-simultaneous explosions, seeing a woman at the scene die from injuries. Agence France-Presse reporters heard about 10 explosions go off nearly simultaneously and said they saw a woman die at the scene from her wounds. Another set of explosions was soon heard in a neighborhood 2 km (1.25 miles) away.
Kramatorsk has been repeatedly targeted by the Russians throughout the invasion. In April 2022, almost 60 civilians were slain by a missile strike on the city’s train station.
Last Tuesday, one civilian was killed and three wounded by shelling of residential buildings.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: All sides said on Saturday that the July 2022 deal lifting Russia’s blockade on three Ukrainian Black Sea ports has been extended, but there is disagreement over the duration.
The initial agreement, brokered by the UN and Turkey, was renewed in November for four months after Moscow threatened to renew its prohibition of grain shipments.
Russian officials again tried to impose conditions on renewal before Saturday’s deadline, hoping for a reduction in international sanctions over Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
No concessions were made, and the Russian Foreign Ministry finally said yesterday that the agreement has been extended for 60 days. Ukraine Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov says the extension is 120 days.
Both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the UN confirmed the extension, but without specifying a timeframe.
“The Black Sea Grain Initiative, alongside the Memorandum of Understanding on promoting Russian food products and fertilizers to the world markets, are critical for global food security, especially for developing countries,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
Russia has continued to hinder Ukrainian shipments with hindrance of inspections and clearances. However, Ukraine Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky said the country has supplied nearly 500,000 tons of wheat for UN aid programs.
Solsky, claiming an extension of 120 days, said it was an opportunity to keep helping those in need and “save the world from hunger”.
But Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia renewed the threat of a cutoff after 60 days. He said the European Union, the United States, and UK now “have two months to exempt from their sanctions the entire chain of operations which accompany the Russian agricultural sector”.
The UN said Ukraine has exported nearly 25 million tons of mainly corn and wheat since July. The top primary destinations for shipments have been China, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the Netherlands.