The military situation is becoming increasingly difficult around the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday as many of Ukraine’s battlefields turn to mud. “In the Bakhmut sector, the situation is constantly becoming more difficult,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly address. “The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions for fortification and defence.” Russia’s defence ministry claimed its forces destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot near the town – the focal point of Russia’s advances in eastern Ukraine – also shooting down four Himars missiles and five drones launched by Ukrainian forces.
Belarusian anti-war partisans claim to have severely damaged a Russian military aircraft in what an opposition leader has called the “most successful diversion” since the beginning of the war. BYPOL, the Belarusian partisan organisation, said it had used drones to strike the Machulishchy airfield 12km from Minsk, severely damaging a Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft (Awacs).
China has “very clearly” taken Russia’s side and has been “anything but an honest broker” in efforts to bring peace to Ukraine, US department of state spokesperson Ned Price said at a news briefing on Monday. China has provided Russia with “diplomatic support, political support, with economic support, with rhetorical support,” he added.
Russia has given a lukewarm response to a Chinese peace plan to end the war in Ukraine but said it was paying “a great deal of attention” to the detail. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said any initiatives that might bring peace closer were worthy of attention and Beijing’s voice should be heard, but the nuances of the proposal are important and, for now, he didn’t see any signs suggesting a peaceful resolution could be achieved. “Any attempt to formulate theses for reaching a peaceful settlement of the problem is welcome, but, of course, the nuances are important,” Peskov told the Izvestia daily.
Russia will not resume participation in the Start nuclear arms reduction treaty with the US until Washington listens to Moscow’s position, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in remarks published on Tuesday. Russian president Vladimir Putin last week announced Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the latest Start treaty, after accusing the west of being directly involved in attempts to strike its strategic airbases. Peskov told the daily Izvestia in an interview that the “attitude of the collective west”, led by the US needs to change towards Moscow. “The security of one country cannot be ensured at the expense of the security of another,” Peskov said.
Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, is due to visit Beijing on Tuesday for a meeting with China’s president Xi Jinping, in a high-profile trip symbolising the widening gulf between the US and China over the war in Ukraine. Xi’s meeting with Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin, is seen internationally as a sign of where Beijing’s sympathies lie.
The US Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, met with Zelenskiy and other key Ukrainian government officials in a surprise visit to Ukraine to reaffirm Washington’s support for Kyiv on Monday. Following talks with prime minister Denys Shmyhal, Yellen said that the US has provided nearly $50bn in security, economic and humanitarian assistance, and announced another multibillion-dollar package to boost the country’s economy.
Poland has announced a joint initiative with the European Commission to trace Ukrainian children who have been abducted and taken to Russia during the ongoing war in Ukraine. The aim of the scheme is to track down the missing children and to “ensure those responsible are brought to justice”, Poland’s EU affairs minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said. “We need to return the abducted children to Ukraine and punish Russia for its crimes,” Shmyhal said.
A Ukrainian Nobel peace laureate has called for the swift creation of a special tribunal to try Vladimir Putin and his associates for the crime of aggression, Oleksandra Matviichuk, the head of the Centre for Civil Liberties, told the Guardian that a speedy start to war crimes trials against the Russian president and soldiers it could have “a cooling effect” on atrocities committed by the Kremlin’s invading forces.
The UN chief, António Guterres, has warned that respect for human rights has gone into reverse, and called for a renewal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 75 years after its signing. Pointing to the war raging in Ukraine, and threats to rights from soaring poverty, hunger and climate disasters, António Guterres said the declaration was “under assault from all sides”. He said the “Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most massive violations of human rights” being witnessed in the world today.
The airline carrier Wizz Air has announced it will suspend flights to Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, from 14 March due to concerns about the safety of its airspace. In a statement, the company said it had taken the “difficult but responsible” decision to suspend flights because of the “high, but not imminent” risk in Moldova’s airspace.