Ukraine war latest: At least 40 'enemy attacks' repelled in last 24 hours, says Kyiv (2023)

Key points
  • More than 40 'enemy attacks' repelled in last 24 hours, says Ukraine
  • Chinese president 'ready to call' Zelenskyy - but on own timetable
  • French premier meets Xi to push for pressure on Putin
  • Putin fires top general after 'heavy casualties'
  • Macron has two aims in Beijing - but is unlikely to win any breakthrough on one |Helen-Ann Smith
  • Live reporting by Jess Sharp


Russian forces make 'further gains' in Bakhmut and Ukraine's supply route is 'severely threatened'

Russian forces have made further gains in embattled Bakhmut and now Ukraine's supply route is "severely threatened", the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

Bakhmut, a city in the east of Ukraine, has become the site of fierce fighting for several months, with both sides losing so many troops it has been described as a "meat grinder".

Since late March, Russia's advance had mostly stalled but now it has "likely advanced into the town centre and seized the west bank of the Bakhmuta River", the MoD said in its latest update.

As a result, Ukraine's key supply route to the west of the town is under threat, which could hamper their fighting efforts.

"Russian regular forces, likely including airborne troops, have probably reinforced the area and Russia is again using artillery more effectively in the sector," it added.

One of the reason's for this "regained momentum" is that Wagner mercenary fighters and Russian commanders have "paused their ongoing feud" and started working together, the MoD said.


Putin 'discussed strengthening Russian economic control over Belarus' with Lukashenko, US think tank says

Vladimir Putin has likely discussed "strengthening Russian economic control" over its neighbour Belarus with the country's president in the last few days, a US think tank has said.

The Russian president met Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow on Wednesday and Thursday.

During their talks, the two leaders discussed further "Union State integration" which aims to deepen the relationship between the countries, the Institute for the Study of War said.

Mr Putin and Mr Lukashenko also likely highlighted strengthening economic ties to support their efforts to "falsely reassure the Russian and Belarusian publics that Western sanctions regimes will not have long-term consequences", it added.

It noted that despite this, Mr Lukashenko has continued to indicated that he has "no intention" of involving Belarus in the conflict with Ukraine.

They also did not discuss the placement of Russian strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus, following Mr Putin's announcement last month that Russia will deploy them in the country.


More than 40 'enemy attacks' repelled in last 24 hours, says Ukraine

More than 40 "enemy attacks" have been repelled in the last 24 hours, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has said.

Russia fired 53 rockets, five missiles and 18 air strikes on various parts of the war-torn country, according to the unit, which oversees operational management of Kyiv's troops.

Moscow has continued to focus its efforts in Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka, all of which are in the eastern Donetsk region, it added.

"During the day, Ukrainian Air Force launched six air strikes on the concentrations of Russian troops and military equipment," the statement read.

"In addition, Ukrainian defenders shot down three UAVs of various types (Orlan-10, Supercam, and Lancet-3), as well as three guided bombs.

At the same time, Ukrainian missile and artillery units hit two concentrations of the adversary manpower, two fuel and lubricant depots, and one electronic warfare station of the enemy."


Good morning

Welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

We'll be bringing you the latest updates throughout the day, but before we begin, here's a reminder of yesterday's key events:

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping is "ready to call" Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the first time since Russia's invasion, a French diplomatic source has said;
  • French President Emmanuel Macron met Xi in a bid to push China into helping bring peace to Ukraine;
  • Four people were killed in a strike in a car park in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk;
  • The leader of the Russian Wagner group said Ukrainian troops are not retreating from Bakhmut.


A glimpse of the scene in eastern Donetsk

This is the scene in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, where it is understood at least seven people have been killed in shelling.

Deaths were reported inside a car repair shop, near to a car park.


2,500 Ukrainian civilians 'deported in custody' to Russia - reports

Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been deported in custody to Russia from occupied parts of the country, a Ukrainian official has claimed.

Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian parliament commissioner for human rights, said Ukrainian authorities cannot be sure how many nationals are in Russia.

"We cannot clearly say how many Ukrainians are currently on the territory of the Russian Federation as Russia itself does not provide us with any official numbers" he said.

He added that there is evidence that Russia is trying to recruit some of the individuals into the Wagner Group of mercenaries, to fight in the east.

It is thought Russia has deported some 19,000 children to its territory.


Russia 'withdraws military equipment from depot in Crimea'

Russian troops appear to be emptying a military depot in the north of Crimea, new satellite images shared by a foreign policy analyst show.

Brady Africk, of the American Enterprise Institute, said this withdrawal of equipment appears to have taken place between 11 February and 16 March.

The images were initially provided by Maxar Technologies.


'No more than five people' know details of Ukrainian counteroffensive plans

Only a handful of people know the intricate details of Ukrainian plans to launch a renewed counteroffensive in the coming months, the head of the Ukrainian defence council has said.

"Information on when the military actions might begin will be known to a limited number of people," Oleksii Danilov told Radio Free Europe.

He said that Ukrainians will find out the details when the offensive begins.

Mr Danilov also stressed that people should be cautious of statements made by people who have little to no information about the plans.

It is widely thought that the counteroffensive will come in the spring.

Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's main intelligence directorate, said in January: "This [the offensive] will happen throughout Ukraine, from Crimea to the Donbas".


'EU-China relations are complex' - Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, is in Beijing today, where French President Emmanuel Macron has met with his Chinese counterpart.

She described relations between the EU and China as "complex".

"For both of us, this relationship has significant impact on our prosperity and our security," she added.

You can watch more from Ms von der Leyen below...


Belarusian gymnasts who are not involved in Russian war should be able to compete - FIG chief

Belarusian gymnasts who are not involved in the Ukrainian war should be allowed to compete, the head of the International Gymnastics Federation said today.

The International Olympic Committee has recommended that Russians and Belarusians be allowed to return to competition as neutrals since their ban last year.

Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Paris 2024 Olympics in response.

Morinari Watanabe, of the FIG, said: "I understand and support Ukraine's position on the political side. But sport is independent of politics.

"Sport must seek peace even when governments and soldiers are at war."

"Zelenskyy protects the Ukrainian people like family. I am protecting all gymnasts in the world like family.

"That's why I support Ukrainian gymnasts and why I defend the right of Russian and Belarusian gymnasts who are not involved in the war to participate in competitions."


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