Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1714 GMT:
All sides are saying 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 Russian Foreign Ministry, which had threatened to block renewal, says the deal 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 have confirmed the extension, but without specifying a timeframe.
UPDATE 1052 GMT:
Senior Ukrainian and US officials have met via video link, discussing the provision of more equipment, weapons, and ammunition.
Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov and Roman Mashovets, the deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, spoke with US National Security advisor Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
Zelenskiy joined the call at the end of the meeting, explaining how Ukrainian forces hope to liberate territory.
UPDATE 0732 GMT:
A “senior NATO official” says Russia is sustaining up to 1,500 casualties a day, mainly in its “human wave” assault on the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
The official said Ukraine’s losses are “an order of magnitude less” as “several thousand” shells are fired by both sides each day.
He added that the frontline along the Bakhmutka River in Bakhmut, which Russia has attacked for 10 months, has become a “killing zone”. However, there is no sign that Ukraine is losing the western part of the city.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has hailed the “historic decision” of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin over Russia’s deportations of Ukrainian children.
The ICC announced charges against Putin and Russia’s “Commissioner for Children’s Rights” Maria Lvova-Belova on Friday afternoon. The Court cited responsibility for the “war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children”.
Ukrainian officials have said that at least 16,207 children have been deported, while a report from Yale University confirmed more than 6,000.
Lvova-Belova has boasted that 350 children have been adopted by Russian families — including an infant which she has taken into her family — and more than 1,000 are awaiting adoption.
On Thursday, an independent investigative committee, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, reported on “crimes against international humanitarian law” including mass deportations from Ukraine to Russia.
The President of the International Court, Judge Piotr Hofmanski, explained that the warrants were being made public “in the interest of justice and to prevent the commission of future crimes”:
This is an important moment in the process of justice before the ICC. The judges have reviewed the evidence and information submitted by the prosecutor and determined there are credible allegations against these persons for the alleged crimes.
“A Fundamental Decision of International Justice”
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy said:
Today, we have a fundamental decision of international justice in a case that has a true prospect. The International Criminal Court issued a warrant of arrest for Putin — the historic decision, from which historical responsibility will begin.
The head of the terrorist state and another Russian official have officially become suspects in a war crime. The deportation of Ukrainian children: the illegal transfer of thousands of our children to the territory of the terrorist state.
International Criminal Court issues warrant of arrest for Putin. The historic decision, from which historical responsibility will begin. pic.twitter.com/cUW0WbeGKJ
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 17, 2023
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, “Wheels of justice are turning,” and President Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak noted, “It’s just the beginning.”
Moscow had a far different reaction. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova snapped, “The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view.”
Lvova-Belova responded by justifying the deportation of Ukrainian children which led to her being charged.
It’s great that the international community has appreciated this work to help the children of our country: that we don’t leave them in war zones, that we take them out, that we create good conditions for them, that we surround them with loving, caring people.
It is unlikely that Putin would ever stand trial, as Russia is not a signatory to the ICC. However, he risks arrest and detention if he travels to any of the 123 countries which recognize the Court’s jurisdiction.