Russia-Ukraine war live: Biden backs Putin arrest warrant, saying Russian leader ‘clearly committed war crimes’ | Ukraine
Russia is sustaining up to 1,500 casualties a day in its current offensive, mostly in the eastern city of Bakhmut, according to a senior Nato official. Ukraine was taking “an order of magnitude less” in fighting where “several thousand” shells a day have been fired by both sides, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
China’s President Xi Jinping is to visit Russia next week in an apparent show of support for Vladimir Putin. During the visit, scheduled for 20-22 March, the two leaders would sign “important” bilateral documents and discuss issues of further development of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction between Moscow and Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry has said.
The US has deep concerns that China could try to position itself as a peacemaker in the war in Ukraine by promoting a ceasefire, the White House has said. A ceasefire in Ukraine would “in effect recognise Russia’s gains and its attempt to conquer its neighbour’s territory by force, allowing Russian troops to continue to occupy sovereign Ukrainian territory”, said the White House national security spokesperson, John Kirby.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey would start the process of ratifying Finland’s Nato membership bid in parliament after Helsinki took “authentic and concrete steps” to keep its promises in a trilateral agreement. Erdoğan also said Turkey’s willingness to consider ratifying Sweden’s Nato bid would “depend on the solid steps Sweden will take”.
President Erdoğan beside his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto, in Ankara on Friday. Photograph: Burhan Özbilici/AP
Sweden remained confident it would join Nato, the foreign minister said. Tobias Billström said separate ratification of Finland and Sweden’s bids by Ankara was “a development that we didn’t want but it’s something that we’re prepared for”.
Slovakia will donate 13 MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine, its prime minister has said. Eduard Heger told a news conference his government was “on the right side of history” as Slovakia became the second Nato member to announce such a shipment in 24 hours, after a similar move by Poland. The Kremlin said the promised planes were another example of Nato members “raising the level of their direct involvement in the conflict”, adding that “all this equipment will be subject to destruction”.
Talks are in progress on the renewal of an agreement allowing the safe export of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, the UN’s office in Geneva has said. The Black Sea grain initiative, brokered between Russia and Ukraine by the UN and Turkey last July, is due to expire on Saturday. The UN, Ukraine and Turkey have called for a 120-day rollover of the agreement. Russia has said the deal should be renewed for only 60 days.
Kyiv’s wartime curfew will be reduced by an hour to boost business. The head of Kyiv city administration, Serhiy Popko, said the new curfew period – starting at midnight instead of 11pm – would increase the time for public transport and that reducing its duration “should help reduce social tension, increase production, create new jobs”.
Russia’s defence secretary, Sergei Shoigu, has presented state awards to the pilots of the Su-27 planes involved in the drone incident over the Black Sea for “preventing the violation of the borders of the special operation area by the American MQ-9 Reaper drone”.
Moldova’s president has said she sees no danger of war in her countries while Ukraine continues to dig in against Russia. “The Russian army cannot get here while Ukraine holds out – and [therefore] protects Moldova,” Maia Sandu told the Moldovan parliament.
Updated at 07.01 GMT