Russian cruise missiles intended for use by Moscow’s Black Sea fleet have been destroyed in an explosion in the city of Dzhankoi in the north of the Crimean peninsula, Ukraine’s defence ministry has said. Ihor Ivin, the Russian-installed head of the Dzhankoi administration, was quoted as saying the city had come under attack from drones, and that a 33-year-old man had suffered a shrapnel injury from a downed drone.
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are holding a second set of talks on Tuesday. The Chinese president’s trip to Moscow has been viewed as a major boost for his strategic partner Putin. The Chinese leader is expected to continue to position himself as a potential peacemaker in the Ukraine war during his two-day visit to Russia – his first state visit since Putin’s invasion.
Xi met Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday morning, and invited both Mishustin and Putin to visit China later this year.
China’s state media has extensively and positively covered the visit. Most coverage has focused on Xi’s comments and talking about how strong the relationship is. None of the pieces mentioned the recent ICC arrest warrant for the Russian president over alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken criticised Xi on Monday for providing “diplomatic cover” for Russia to continue committing war crimes. Blinken said the visit “suggests that China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine.” Blinken voiced scepticism over China’s “peace” proposals to end the Ukraine conflict, warning they could be a “stalling tactic” to help Russian troops on the ground in Ukraine.
Iryna Vereshchuk, who is one of Ukraine’s deputy prime ministers and is the minister of reintegration of temporarily occupied territories, has said there is no confirmed time agreed for a mooted call between Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Xi.
In his nightly address, Zelenskiy thanked Europe and the US for their latest aid packages, saying “Our European partners have agreed on a joint plan to accelerate the supply of shells for our artillery … This is a strategic step. It gives us confidence in our unity, in the immutability of the movement towards victory over the terrorist state.”
Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida is en route to Kyiv for talks with Zelenskiy. Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed Kishida riding a train from Poland heading to Kyiv early Tuesday. Kishida, who is to chair the Group of Seven summit in May, is the only G-7 leader who hasn’t visited Ukraine and was under pressure to do so at home.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that two of its Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers made a routine flight over the Sea of Japan. The defence ministry said the flights were carried out in compliance with international law and were made over neutral waters.
Russia’s foreign ministry said it had protested to Canada’s top diplomat in Moscow over comments by the Canadian foreign minister about “regime change” in Russia. On 10 March Canada’s foreign affairs minister Mélanie Joly said “We’re able to see how much we’re isolating the Russian regime right now – because we need to do so economically, politically and diplomatically – and what are the impacts also on society and how much we’re seeing potential regime change in Russia.”
New Zealand’s foreign ministry says it is aware of “reports” of the death of a New Zealander in Ukraine. The ministry said in an unattributed statement “These reports have not been able to be officially verified at this time”. National news outlets, including Radio New Zealand, reported that the person was a former New Zealand soldier. The defence ministry declined to comment.
The leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church said on Tuesday he will work with Lithuania’s government to potentially establish a new branch in the Baltic nation to ensure that believers would no longer be under the sole supervision of Moscow. Lithuania’s government said some of the country’s Orthodox believers, including Ukrainian refugees, object to the current organisation, which is a unit of the Russian Orthodox Church. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has been a vocal supporter of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Any future peace plan must require Russia to withdraw its troops from all Ukrainian territory, Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, has reiterated. The formula for the successful implementation of China’s “peace plan” must include the restoration of Ukraine’s “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity”, Danilov posted on Twitter.
Russia plans to hold an informal meeting of the UN Security Council in early April on what it says is “the real situation” of Ukrainian children taken to Russia, the Associated Press is reporting. The international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes related to the children’s abduction but Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia claimed on Monday the issue was “totally overblown”.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, has written to Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, to warn that the Ukrainian army is planning an imminent offensive aimed at cutting off his forces from the main body of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. In the letter published by his press service, Prigozhin said the “large-scale attack” was planned for late March or the start of April. Separately, Prigozhin also intensified his attack on Shoigu, calling the minister’s son-in-law a “scumbag blogger”.
The prosecutor for the ICC has said the world needs to “have the stamina” to enforce international law by trying those accused of war crimes in Ukraine, four days after the court took action against Vladimir Putin. Karim Khan also challenged the Kremlin to allow Ukrainian children abducted to Russia to return home, after his court issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Russia’s children’s commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, on the grounds that they had overseen the forcible transfer of thousands of children.
EU ministers have reached a deal to supply Ukraine with 1m rounds of shells to bolster its defences against Russia’s invasion. EU foreign and defence ministers are still fine-tuning a €1bn plan for the joint procurement of ammunition by the Brussels-based European Defence Agency. Such an agreement would be a significant moment for the EU, which has limited experience of the joint purchase of military supplies. So far, about 15 countries are expected to take part in the voluntary initiative.
The US will send Ukraine $350m in weapons and equipment, Blinken has announced. The latest aid package includes a large amount of various types of ammunition, such as rockets for the high-mobility artillery rocket systems (Himars), the US secretary of state said in a statement.