- 16 Mar 2023 - 20:18(20:18 GMT)
UN backs Turkey, Ukraine in call for 120-day grain deal rollover
The United Nations has backed Turkey and Ukraine by calling for a 120-day rollover of an agreement allowing the safe export of grain from several Ukrainian Black Sea ports after Russia said it would only extend the pact for 60 days. The pact is due to expire on Saturday.
“For us, the text in the agreement is clear and it calls for a 120-day rollover,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Reuters when asked about remarks by Turkey.
Turkey said on Wednesday that it would continue talks to extend the deal for 120 days rather than 60 days. Ukraine has also said the agreement should be renewed for 120 days.
“The deal is being extended for 60 days,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters, when asked to comment on Dujarric’s remarks.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 19:29(19:29 GMT)
German Chancellor Scholz sees prolonged war in Ukraine: Handelsblatt
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz does not expect the war in Ukraine to end soon, he has told business daily Handelsblatt, confirming Berlin would support Kyiv as long as it is necessary with money and arms.
“We should be prepared for a prolonged war, even if an early end would be desirable,” Scholz was quoted as saying, adding that it remained absolutely vital that China not supply Russia with weapons.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 19:19(19:19 GMT)
Pentagon: Russia likely trying to recover US drone debris in Black Sea
The United States has indications that Russia is likely trying to recover debris from a downed US drone, the Pentagon has said, even as it played down Moscow’s prospects for success.
“We do have indications that Russia is likely making an effort to try to recover MQ-9 debris … however, we assess it’s very unlikely that they would be able to recover anything useful,” said Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Russian ships had been seen near the area where the drone had crashed, though they did not appear to have recovered any parts of the drone yet. It was not clear whether they were still in the area.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 19:01(19:01 GMT)
UN-backed inquiry accuses Russia of war crimes in Ukraine
Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and killing in occupied regions, amount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity, according to a report by a United Nations-backed inquiry.
Among potential crimes against humanity, the report cited repeated attacks targeting Ukrainian infrastructure that left hundreds of thousands without heat and electricity during the coldest months, as well as the “systematic and widespread” use of torture across multiple regions under Russian occupation.
“There were elements of planning and availability of resources which indicate that the Russian authorities may have committed torture as crimes against humanity,” said Erik Møse, a former Norwegian Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights judge who led the investigation.
The investigation also found crimes committed against Ukrainians on Russian territory, including the deportation of Ukrainian children who were prevented from reuniting with their families, a “filtration” system aimed at singling out Ukrainians for detention, and torture and inhumane detention conditions.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 18:50(18:50 GMT)
Sending Polish MiGs to Ukraine ‘does not change’ US opposition to sending jets: White House
Poland’s move to become the first country to send MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine does not alter the US’s decision against sending its own fighter aircraft to Kyiv, the White House has said.
“It doesn’t change our calculus with regards to F-16s,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, referring to the US-built fighter jet. Poland’s move “does not affect, does not change” that, he said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking to reporters on a visit to Niger, alluded to the heavy costs of US fighter jets.
“I think it’s a mistake to get focused on any particular weapons system at any given time,” Blinken said. He said it was important “not only making sure that the Ukrainians have the right weapons system, but that they can use it”.
“So depending on the system, that might require significant training” or maintenance, Blinken said.
“Different countries are doing different things in response to what they have and to what the perceived needs are,” he added.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 18:47(18:47 GMT)
White House: US has resources needed to support Ukraine this fiscal year
The White House says it believes the United States has sufficient resources to support Ukraine through the end of this fiscal year.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 18:32(18:32 GMT)
Majority in neutral Switzerland back closer NATO ties
A majority in Switzerland now support closer ties with NATO, the government has said, a first in the country known for military neutrality.
The Swiss Military Academy and the Centre for Security Studies – both attached to ETH Zurich University – publish an annual survey of public opinion on foreign, security and defence policy issues, to evaluate long-term trends.
It showed that in January 2023, 55 percent of the Swiss population favoured closer ties with NATO – up 10 percentage points from the January 2021 survey.
“It is the first time that a small majority of the population has been of this opinion,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
“Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Swiss have become more pessimistic about the future of our country and the world. They also now take a more critical look at neutrality and declare themselves ready for more cooperation,” it concluded.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 17:55(17:55 GMT)
Russia says it asked US about involvement in Nord Stream explosions
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says that Moscow requested an explanation from Washington regarding its involvement in the explosions in the Nord Stream gas pipelines.
During a news briefing in Moscow, Zakharova told Anadolu Agency that the explanations were demanded publicly and in a statement regarding the incident published on the ministry’s website on February 21.
“We have repeatedly spoken publicly, including to American representatives about this. And our comment of February 21 contains the following quote: ‘It was emphasised from the Russian side that the US should give explanations about the explosions on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines, and not interfere with an objective investigation to identify the perpetrators.’ Therefore, the short answer is yes,” she said.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 17:49(17:49 GMT)
Switzerland passes bill to prosecute ‘crimes of aggression’
Switzerland’s parliament has approved a bill allowing for the prosecution of the perpetrators of crimes of aggression under the country’s own national legislation, a power it had not previously had.
The bill’s approval comes hours after a United Nations investigative body said it had found “reasonable grounds” to conclude that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its attacks against the Ukrainian armed forces qualified as acts of aggression.
The crime of aggression is broadly defined as the invasion of, or attempt to gain political and military control over, another sovereign state.
“Switzerland’s adoption of crime of aggression in its legislation would allow it to step up the fight against impunity for the gravest crimes under international law,” the parliament said in a statement after the bill was passed with 127 votes in favour and 53 against.
The legislation brings Swiss law closer into line with amendments passed to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 17:44(17:44 GMT)
US says Ukraine ceasefire would cement Russian ‘conquest’
A ceasefire in Ukraine would only serve to “ratify” Russia’s territorial gains against its eastern European neighbour, the White House has said.
The comments come after China unveiled a 12-point proposal to end the war, which calls for negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv and a nationwide ceasefire.
US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that while the “much ballyhooed” proposal from Beijing to halt hostilities “sounds perfectly reasonable”, it would ultimately lead to legitimising Russia’s territorial gains, and “would constitute another continued violation of the UN Charter”.
“A ceasefire right now would basically ratify Russia’s conquest. It would, in effect, recognise Russia’s gains, and all of its attempts to conquer a neighbour’s territory by force,” Kirby told reporters during a virtual briefing.
“Russia would basically be free to use that ceasefire to further entrench its positions in Ukraine, to rebuild their forces, refit them, reman them, retain them so that they can then restart attacks at a time of their choosing. And frankly, it’s just not a step that we believe [is] towards a just and durable peace,” he said.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 17:40(17:40 GMT)
What are the implications of US drone downing over Black Sea?
An unmanned United States drone crashed into the Black Sea on Tuesday after being pursued by Russian fighter jets.
It’s the most serious incident involving the two military powers since the Ukraine war began. The Pentagon has now released a video showing the Russian jet dumping fuel on the drone to obstruct its views.
Is this a one-off incident, or a more serious escalation?
- 16 Mar 2023 - 17:35(17:35 GMT)
White House says Xi-Zelenskyy talks would be a ‘good thing’
The White House says talks between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Chinese President Xi Jinping would be a “good thing,” but warned Beijing against taking a “one-sided” view of the conflict.
“We think it would be a very good thing if the two of them talk,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters when asked about a Wall Street Journal report that the Ukrainian leader is set to talk with Xi for the first time since China’s ally Russia invaded.
“We support and have supported” contact, Kirby said. But he cautioned against a Chinese push for a ceasefire in Ukraine, saying it would simply help Russian aggression.
There has been no confirmation of a call to Zelenskyy by Xi. However, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba talked by phone Thursday.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 17:24(17:24 GMT)
Russian Orthodox leader says Kyiv eviction ‘monstrous’
Russian Orthodox Church leader and staunch Kremlin ally Patriarch Kirill has denounced the looming eviction of monks from a monastery in Kyiv over its links to Russia.
Ukraine last week announced the termination of the lease that allowed the church to occupy part of the 11th-century Pechersk monastery free of charge, but the monks said they would not move.
“The state’s ultimatum over the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra represents a monstrous act,” Kirill said in a video statement.
Ukrainian media has reported that the monks were given an eviction deadline of March 29.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 16:32(16:32 GMT)
Ukraine’s foreign minister emphasises Zelenskyy’s peace plan in call with Beijing
Ukraine’s foreign minister says he emphasised the importance of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s peace plan during a phone call with his Chinese counterpart.
“During my call with China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang today, we discussed the significance of the principle of territorial integrity,” Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter. “I underscored the importance of Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula for ending the aggression and restoring just peace in Ukraine.”
Gang said in earlier remarks about the phone call that China was also concerned about an escalation of the war and wants Moscow and Kyiv to hold peace talks.
During my call with China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang today, we discussed the significance of the principle of territorial integrity. I underscored the importance of @ZelenskyyUa’s Peace Formula for ending the aggression and restoring just peace in Ukraine.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 16, 2023
- 16 Mar 2023 - 16:04(16:04 GMT)
US to continue flying drones over Black Sea: AJ correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, DC, says the US will continue flying drones over the Black Sea despite the concern of escalation with Russia.
“The military says that these are surveillance flights that are being conducted legally, lawfully and consistent with international law over international waters in international airspace, but the position of the Russian military is that this is becoming provocative, that this is aggressive, so this is what is causing so much tension between the superpowers,” she said.
But the incident has exposed “very dangerous high-risk escalations in hostilities”, she added,
“What we know is that both sides are now accusing the other of provocations, and the big concern in all of this is the threat of retaliation on both sides.”
- 16 Mar 2023 - 15:33(15:33 GMT)
Western nations are debating sending Ukraine fighter jets: Denmark
Western nations are debating whether to send fighter jets to Ukraine, Denmark’s prime minister tells Danish TV2.
“This is something we’re discussing in the group of allied countries,” Mette Frederiksen said. “It’s a big wish from Ukraine.”
Earlier on Thursday, Poland announced it would send four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, which would make it the first of Kyiv’s allies to do so.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 15:10(15:10 GMT)
UN calls for 120-day extension to Black Sea grain export deal
An agreement guaranteeing the safe export of grain from several of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports calls for a 120-day extension, the United Nations says.
“For us, the text in the agreement is clear, and it calls for a 120-day rollover,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Reuters when asked about remarks by Turkey.
On Wednesday, Turkey said it would continue talks to extend the deal for 120 days rather than 60 days, which Russia had suggested this week.
The grain deal, which was brokered with Russia and Ukraine by the UN and Turkey in July, will expire on Saturday if it is not renewed.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 14:53(14:53 GMT)
China wants Kyiv and Moscow to ‘resume peace talks’: Diplomat
Senior Chinese diplomat Qin Gang told Ukraine’s foreign minister during a phone call that Beijing is concerned about an escalation of the war and wants Moscow and Kyiv to hold peace talks.
“China hopes that all parties will remain calm, rational and restrained and resume peace talks as soon as possible,” Qin told Dmytro Kuleba, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement.
China, which has refrained from condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, has urged both sides to agree to a gradual de-escalation in a 12-point paper on the “political resolution of the Ukraine crisis”.
The plan called for the protection of civilians and respect for each other’s sovereignty.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 14:28(14:28 GMT)
Who controls what?
Here are three maps we update daily, charting the latest war developments.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 13:42(13:42 GMT)
Russia committed a ‘wide range’ of war crimes, investigators say
A UN-mandated investigative body says in a report that Russia has committed a wide range of war crimes in Ukraine, such as deliberate killings, torture and the deportation of children.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine said that Russian forces have carried out “indiscriminate and disproportionate” attacks on Ukraine, resorted to torture, killed civilians outside of combat and failed to safeguard the Ukrainian population.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 13:26(13:26 GMT)
‘Age of unmanned fighter jet is upon us’: AJ defence editor
Al Jazeera’s defence editor, Alex Gatopoulos, says the incident between a US reconnaissance drone and Russian fighter jets is the latest in a long line of confrontations “where militaries take a dim view of their adversaries snooping on them”.
“Russia has been very clear that it will not allow NATO aircraft to operate so close to its area of military operations,” he said.
But the incident, Gatopoulos explained, highlighted two things: first that “the dumping of fuel onto the drone would never have been done to a manned aircraft” and, second, that these types of drones, “the US MQ-9 Reaper, Turkey’s Bayraktar TB-2 and China’s Wing Loong 2, are useful tools for tracking and destroying insurgents with no means to retaliate”.
“A new generation of armed drones is coming online that will be able to survive operating against a near-peer adversary like Russia in a highly contested airspace like those that border the Ukrainian coast,” he said. “The age of the unmanned fighter jet is upon us.”
- 16 Mar 2023 - 13:02(13:02 GMT)
Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 386
Click here for a roundup of the war’s key events from day 386.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 12:27(12:27 GMT)
Ukraine’s compensation claims hampered by allies’ fears: Minister
A senior Ukrainian official says Ukraine’s efforts to ensure it receives compensation from Russia are being hampered by concerns about the legal precedents.
Kyiv is trying to secure an international agreement for Russian assets frozen by other countries amounting to billions of dollars to be transferred to Ukraine to help rebuild the country.
Deputy Justice minister Iryna Mudra said some countries were worried about setting a precedent that would risk their assets by exposing them to compensation demands over past conflicts.
“We have no option but to make Russia pay reparations. If it doesn’t do it voluntarily, [let’s] fill a [compensation] fund with Russian money, foreign exchange reserves, Russian assets,” Mudra told Reuters in an interview this week.
“They [some countries] are afraid that a precedent could be set … that their foreign assets could be affected.”
- 16 Mar 2023 - 12:04(12:04 GMT)
Russia facing a ‘sanctions war’, says Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia is facing a “sanctions war” in his first primary address to the country’s business elite since the war began a year ago.
Putin said Russia was swiftly reorienting its economy towards countries that had not hit Russia with sanctions and thanked business leaders for working to help the Russian state.
He also urged Russia’s billionaires and business elite to invest in new technology, production facilities and enterprises to help Russia overcome what he said were Western attempts to destroy its economy.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 11:44(11:44 GMT)
Russia’s assault on Vuhledar has ‘slowed’, says UK
The British Ministry of Defence in its latest intelligence update says Russia’s assault on the town of Vuhledar has “almost certainly slowed” after failed attempts over the past three months.
“One factor in Russia’s heavy losses in this sector has been Ukraine’s successful adoption of Remote Anti-Armour Mine systems (RAAM). RAAM is a specialist artillery shell which scatters anti-armour mines up to 17km away from the firing unit,” the ministry said.
“There is a realistic possibility that Russia’s MoD has been insistent in its drive for success in Vuhledar, partially because it wants its own success to compete with Wagner’s achievements,” the ministry added.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 16 March 2023.
Find out more about Defence Intelligence's use of language: https://t.co/gjsLU9pJZb
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/ND6yhgaSFk
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) March 16, 2023
- 16 Mar 2023 - 11:26(11:26 GMT)
Poland detains six people in connection with spy ring
Poland says it has broken up an espionage network allegedly working for Russia.
On Wednesday, the private broadcaster RMF FM reported that Polish security services had detained six people suspected of spying for Russia. According to the host, the group had been planning sabotage activities.
“I would like to emphasise the great success achieved by the officers of the Internal Security Agency, because the whole spy network has been unravelled,” Mariusz Blaszczak, Poland’s defence minister, told state broadcaster Polskie Radio 1.
“This is undoubtedly proof that the Polish services work for the security of our country in a very efficient manner.”
- 16 Mar 2023 - 11:03(11:03 GMT)
Best way to protect Moldova is to protect Ukraine: UK
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly says the best way to protect Moldova from Russia is to protect Ukraine.
Asked by reporters whether Britain planned on sending military support to Moldova, Cleverly said: “We strongly believe that one of the best ways of protecting Moldova from physical attack is helping the Ukrainians defend themselves against Russia.”
Earlier on Thursday, the Kremlin spokesperson said, “We seriously regret that the leadership of Moldova is experiencing unjustified and baseless prejudice against Moscow. They are probably suffering from an infection of Russophobia.”
- 16 Mar 2023 - 10:41(10:41 GMT)
US Pentagon releases footage of drone incident
The Pentagon has released footage of what it says is a Russian aircraft conducting an unsafe intercept of a US Air Force surveillance drone over the Black Sea.
The 42-second video shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the MQ-9 drone and beginning to release fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said.
The US military said it left the MQ-9 Reaper in the sea on Tuesday after the Russian fighter jet poured fuel on the aerial vehicle and struck its propeller.
Russia has denied that it deliberately brought the unmanned aerial vehicle down.
It was the first military incident between Moscow and Washington since President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022.
The US released a video filmed by the drone that was forced to crash in the Black Sea after it was intercepted by two Russian fighter jets in international airspace ⤵️
🔗: https://t.co/H2hj0LkiIi pic.twitter.com/E4Su5r2eDn
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 16, 2023
- 16 Mar 2023 - 10:34(10:34 GMT)
Kremlin accuses Moldova of ‘unjustified prejudice’ against Moscow
The Kremlin has accused Moldova of “unjustified prejudice” against Moscow.
“Russia has always been – and remains – open to establishing neighbourly, mutually beneficial relations with Moldova,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“We seriously regret that the leadership of Moldova is experiencing unjustified and baseless prejudice against Moscow. They are probably suffering from an infection of Russophobia,” he said.
Moldova has been in focus since the start of the Ukraine conflict, with fears that the small country could be dragged into the war.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 10:24(10:24 GMT)
Syria welcomes Russian proposals for military bases, recognises annexed territories
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he would welcome any Russian proposals to set up new military bases in the country.
“We think that expanding the Russian presence in Syria is a good thing,” al-Assad told RIA news agency in an interview.
“Russia’s military presence in any country should not be based on anything temporary.
“We believe that if Russia has the desire to expand bases or increase their number, it is a technical or logistical issue.”
Al-Assad, who met President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Wednesday, said he supported Russia’s war in Ukraine and that Damascus recognises the territories claimed by Russia in Ukraine.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 10:23(10:23 GMT)
China hopes grain deal can be implemented, offers to mediate
China hopes the Black Sea grain deal can be implemented in a balanced and comprehensive manner, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, adding that China would like to strengthen communication with all parties and enhance global food security.
The comments responded to a question at a regular press briefing about Russia’s proposal to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative for 60 days, which Ukraine rejected because it is half the duration of the previously renewed deal.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 10:22(10:22 GMT)
Flying near Crimea is ‘provocative’, Russia’s Shoigu warns US
On Wednesday night, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told his US counterpart Lloyd Austin that operating drones near Crimea was provocative and could escalate.
“It was noted that flights by American strategic lethal drones by the Crimea coastline were provocative in nature and created pre-conditions for an escalation of the situation in the Black Sea zone,” a ministry statement said of Shoigu’s telephone conversation with Defense Secretary Austin.
Russia “had no interest in such a development but will in future react in due proportion”, the statement added.
- 16 Mar 2023 - 10:22(10:22 GMT)
Capturing Bakhmut ‘difficult’, says Russia-backed separatist leader
Trying to capture Bakhmut is “difficult” because there are no signs Kyiv is ready to order a withdrawal of its troops, the Russian-installed leader of Ukraine’s Donetsk region said.
“The situation in Artyomovsk [Bakhmut] remains complex and difficult,” Denis Pushilin, the Russian-installed head of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, said in an interview on state TV.
“That is, we do not see that there is any premise that the enemy is going to simply withdraw units,” he added.
Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin has said his forces control nearly half the city, and only one exit road remains available to Ukraine.
Latest updates: Inquiry accuses Russia of war crimes in Ukraine
Ukraine news from March 16: Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine amount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity, report says.
The live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. Here are the updates for March 16:
- Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine amount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity, according to a report by a United Nations-backed inquiry.
- Poland will send Ukraine four MiG-29s within the “next few days”, President Andrzej Duda says as other countries remain hesitant to provide Kyiv with fighter jets.
- The Pentagon has released video of Tuesday’s drone intercept over the Black Sea, which shows a Russian military jet coming very close to a US military drone, dumping fuel near it and a damaged propeller in the aftermath of the incident.
- There are no signs Ukraine is ready to withdraw from Bakhmut, the Russian-installed leader of the Donetsk region says, describing battles for the eastern city as “difficult”.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies