- 17 Mar 2023 - 20:33(20:33 GMT)
‘Finnish membership will strengthen NATO’: Stoltenberg
Stoltenberg hails Turkey’s decision to move ahead with ratifying Finland’s bid for NATO membership and says he is confident Sweden would join soon too.
In a telephone interview with Reuters, NATO’s secretary general said Erdogan’s announcement that Turkey’s parliament will start ratifying Finland’s accession to NATO was “a good day for everyone that believes in NATO enlargement”.
“Finnish membership will strengthen NATO. It will strengthen Finnish security. It will also strengthen Swedish security,” he said.
He confirmed earlier reports that Erdogan was willing to continue consultations on Sweden’s membership. “I’m confident also that Sweden will join soon, and I will work hard for that,” he said.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 20:22(20:22 GMT)
Russian opposition welcomes ICC arrest warrant
Russian politicians allied to jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny welcome the ICC’s arrest warrant against Putin.
“Lock him up!” Vladimir Milov said.
Leonid Volkov responded on Twitter: “Yes, it’s a symbolic step. But what an important one! P.S. If you meet Putin, feel free to detain him and deliver him to the court!”
- 17 Mar 2023 - 20:12(20:12 GMT)
Canada welcomes arrest warrant for Putin
Canada welcomes the ICC’s move to issue arrest warrants for Putin and a senior official “for their alleged roles in the egregious scheme” to deport children to Russia.
“Canada stands firmly with the people of Ukraine,” Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in a tweet.
Canada welcomes the ICC’s decision to issue arrest warrants for President Putin and Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for their alleged roles in the egregious scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.
Canada stands firmly with the people of Ukraine.
— Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) March 17, 2023
- 17 Mar 2023 - 19:36(19:36 GMT)
France says no one should escape justice for crimes in Ukraine
The French government says “no one should escape justice” as it reacts to the ICC arrest warrants.
“No one responsible for crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, regardless of their status, should escape justice,” the French foreign ministry said on its FranceDiplomatie Twitter account.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 19:24(19:24 GMT)
Zelenskyy hails ICC warrant for Putin as ‘historic decision’
Zelenskyy hails the “historic” decision of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Putin.
“A historic decision from which historic responsibility will begin,” Zelenskyy said on social media.
Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said the decision was “a historic step. But it is only the beginning of the long road to restore justice.”
- 17 Mar 2023 - 19:08(19:08 GMT)
Irish prime minister extends solidarity to Ukraine during US visit
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in remarks during a St Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House with US President Joe Biden.
“Today we must also remember how Russia is attempting to deny the people of Ukraine any kind of future through its brutal invasion,” Varadkar said. “While Ireland is a militarily neutral country, we’re not politically neutral in the face of violations of international law and human rights.”
Varadkar lauded the US and other Western countries for their cooperation in support of Ukraine, stating that the US was “once again” leading “the free world”.
Citing the US role in the “fight against fascism and then communism” during the 20th century, he warned against giving in to Russian demands: “We’ve seen so many times in history how this story ends if it’s not challenged. How appeasement, no matter how well intentioned, ultimately fails.”
- 17 Mar 2023 - 19:05(19:05 GMT)
Rome Statute signatories under obligation to arrest Putin: AJ correspondent
Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the United Nations, says the arrest warrant issued by the ICC against Putin means the 123 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute are now under an obligation to arrest the Russian president and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot in their territory.
However, Bays said, former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who also had an arrest warrant issued against him by the ICC, was still able to travel because some countries refused to act on it.
He added that the ICC’s decision to take action against Putin, “one of the world’s most powerful men”, took “everyone in the international community by surprise”.
“There are questions around what this means for diplomacy,” Bays said, including for potential peace talks to bring the war in Ukraine to an end.
Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary general, told Al Jazeera during a news conference that Antonio Guterres would still “speak to whoever he needs to speak” to fulfil his duties.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 18:48(18:48 GMT)
Putin should be tried for ‘barbaric warfare’ in Ukraine: Poland
Putin should be tried as a war criminal along with others responsible for atrocities in Ukraine, Poland’s government spokesman says after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president.
“This is an important decision from the court, which points to war crimes committed by the Russian apparatus of violence,” Piotr Muller told the state-run news agency PAP.
“Vladimir Putin is at the head of this machine and should be tried as a war criminal along with those who directly and indirectly implement barbaric warfare.”
- 17 Mar 2023 - 18:31(18:31 GMT)
Turkey, NATO discuss accession process of Finland and Sweden
Erdogan and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg have discussed Sweden’s and Finland’s bids to join the military alliance, according to a statement by Turkey’s Directorate of Communications.
Erdogan said in their phone call that Turkey was determined to continue talks with Sweden in good faith and progress depends on the concrete steps taken by Stockholm.
Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Sweden still hoped to be accepted into NATO by the time of the alliance’s meeting in Vilnius in July.
“Our partners support us, both in making sure that we can become members of NATO as soon as possible and in ensuring our security until such time as we become a full member,” he said. “It is a question of when Sweden becomes a member, not if.”
- 17 Mar 2023 - 18:25(18:25 GMT)
Russia’s foreign ministry says Moscow ‘taking care of children’
Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has rejected the ICC decision to issue an arrest warrant for Putin as having “no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view.”
“Who would have thought 15 years ago that in the West taking care of children, saving them and helping them would become a criminal offence,” she said.
Zakharova added that Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC and “bears no obligations under it”.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 18:14(18:14 GMT)
US urges Turkey to quickly ratify Sweden’s NATO bid
The US has welcomed Erdogan’s announcement that Turkey’s parliament will vote on ratifying Finland’s bid to join NATO.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan encouraged Turkey to also quickly ratify Sweden’s accession to the military alliance.
“Sweden and Finland are both strong, capable partners that share NATO’s values and will strengthen the Alliance and contribute to European security,” Sullivan said in a statement. “The United States believes that both countries should become members of NATO as soon as possible.”
- 17 Mar 2023 - 18:09(18:09 GMT)
Ukraine’s foreign minister says ‘wheels of justice are turning’
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has welcomed the ICC’s arrest warrants for Russia’s president and commissioner for children’s rights.
“Wheels of Justice are turning: I applaud the ICC decision to issue arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova over forcible transfer of Ukrainian children. International criminals will be held accountable for stealing children and other international crimes,” Kuleba said on Twitter.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Zelenskyy, said “the world changed”. “It’s a clear signal to [Russian] elites of what will happen to them & why it won’t be ‘as before’,” he posted on Twitter.
He added that the decision marked the Russian Federation’s “end in its current form on the world stage”.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 17:58(17:58 GMT)
Can the ICC prosecute Russian officials for war crimes in Ukraine?
The arrest warrants for Putin and Lvova-Belova theoretically mark the first step towards an eventual trial, but under current conditions, the capture and arraignment of Russia’s president is almost inconceivable.
Even if that did happen, previous ICC cases have shown it is hard to convict the most senior officials. In more than 20 years, the court has only issued five convictions for core crimes, and none was for a top official.
ICC investigations into international figures are not the only option. War crimes can also be prosecuted in Ukraine’s own courts as well as in a growing number of countries conducting their own investigations.
There are also plans to create a new tribunal to prosecute the Russian invasion as a crime of aggression. The ICC may not bring such a charge due to legal constraints.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 17:47(17:47 GMT)
UK says ICC warrant against Putin ‘welcome’ step
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has welcomed the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Putin, adding that investigations into alleged atrocities in Ukraine must continue.
“We welcome the step taken by the independent ICC to hold those at the top of the Russian regime, including Vladimir Putin, to account,” Cleverly tweeted.
Those responsible for horrific war crimes in Ukraine must be brought to justice.
We welcome the step taken by the independent ICC to hold those at the top of the Russian regime, including Vladimir Putin, to account.
Work must continue to investigate the atrocities committed.
— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) March 17, 2023
- 17 Mar 2023 - 17:39(17:39 GMT)
ICC prosecutor says hundreds of Ukrainian children taken from orphanages
Hundreds of Ukrainian children have been taken from orphanages and children’s homes to Russia, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan says.
“Many of these children, we allege, have since been given up for adoption in the Russian Federation,” he added.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 17:34(17:34 GMT)
Russia’s parliament speaker says US behind ICC arrest warrants
Parliament speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, a close ally of Russia’s president, says the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin is evidence of Western “hysteria”.
“Yankees, hands off Putin!” he wrote on Telegram. “We regard any attacks on the President of the Russian Federation as aggression against our country.”
A US-backed report by Yale University researchers last month said Moscow has held at least 6,000 Ukrainian children at sites in Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The report identified at least 43 camps and other facilities where Ukrainian children have been held that were part of a “large-scale systematic network” operated by Moscow since its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 17:22(17:22 GMT)
ICC issues warrant for Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights
The ICC has issued a warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, for the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine.
Lvova-Belova was quoted by Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency as saying: “It’s great that the international community has appreciated this work to help the children of our country: that we don’t leave them in war zones, that we take them out, that we create good conditions for them, that we surround them with loving, caring people.”
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine released a report on Thursday presenting evidence of the illegal transfer of hundreds of Ukrainian children to Russia, which is considered a war crime.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 17:10(17:10 GMT)
EU’s Borrell welcomes ICC warrant against Putin
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has hailed the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin as an “important decision” for international justice and Ukraine’s people.
“We have always made clear at the European Union, that those responsible for the illegal aggression against Ukraine must be brought to justice, and this International Criminal Court issue is just the start in the process of accountability,” Borrell said.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 16:55(16:55 GMT)
ICC decision ‘null and void’, Kremlin says
The Kremlin says it does not recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court after it issues an arrest warrant against Putin.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia found the questions raised by the ICC “outrageous and unacceptable” and that any decisions of the court were “null and void” concerning Russia.
Asked if Putin now feared travelling to countries that recognise the ICC, Peskov said: “I have nothing to add on this subject. That’s all we want to say.”
- 17 Mar 2023 - 16:39(16:39 GMT)
Situation ‘still in the hands of the prosecutor’: ICC
ICC President Piotr Hofmanski says the decision to issue an arrest warrant against the Russian president is “still in the hands of the prosecutor”.
“So far, there were two requests for arrest warrants, and on the basis of these requests, the response will be issued, but it obviously doesn’t mean it is the end of the situation of the cases,” he said.
The judge added that the prosecutor could form cases of new allegations against Putin, thus expanding the warrants.
The current warrants are for the alleged deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 16:22(16:22 GMT)
Ukraine hails ICC warrant against Putin
Senior Ukrainian officials have applauded the ICC for issuing an arrest warrant against Putin.
Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said the decision by the ICC, which accused Putin of being responsible for war crimes committed in Ukraine, was “historic for Ukraine and the entire international law system”.
Andriy Yermak, chief of the presidential staff, said issuing the warrant was “only the beginning”.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 15:59(15:59 GMT)
Ukraine insists on 120-day grain deal renewal
Ukraine insists on a 120-day extension of the Black Sea grain deal, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.
“We insist that the grain agreement be open-ended and automatically extended for 120 days,” Shmyhal told a government meeting.
“Attempts by the aggressor to reduce the extension period are a manipulation to continue further blackmail and deepen a global food crisis. We have to prevent this.”
The agreement will expire on Saturday unless those involved agree to renew.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 15:38(15:38 GMT)
ICC issues arrest warrant against Putin
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of being responsible for war crimes committed in Ukraine.
The ICC issued the warrant on suspicion of unlawful deportation of children and illegal transfer of people from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that it has committed atrocities during the war in Ukraine.
Read more here.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 15:16(15:16 GMT)
Hungary to vote on Nordic NATO bids on March 31
Hungary is expected to vote on the ratification of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO memberships on March 31, the ruling Fidesz party’s parliamentary group press office told the Reuters news agency.
Finland and Sweden applied for membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
All 30 member states must approve the applications. All NATO members have done so except Turkey and Hungary.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 15:03(15:03 GMT)
Turkey to back Finland’s NATO membership
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will ratify Finland’s application for NATO membership.
He announced the decision after meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Ankara, 10 months after Finland and Sweden applied to join the bloc after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“When it comes to fulfilling its pledges in the trilateral memorandum of understanding, we have seen that Finland has taken authentic and concrete steps,” Erdogan said at a news conference in Ankara, referring to an agreement signed by Helsinki, Stockholm and Ankara in June to pave the way for the two Nordic countries to end decades of nonalignment and enter the military alliance.
Turkey had expressed reservations about Finland and Sweden joining NATO, accusing them of being soft on groups it considers “terrorist” organisations, but it has more reservations about Sweden. Finland is now poised to join NATO ahead of its neighbour.
Finland’s application can now go to a vote in the Turkish parliament. Ratification is expected before Ankara holds its presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May 14.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 14:43(14:43 GMT)
US concerned that China could pose as peacemaker: White House
The US has deep concerns that China might try to position itself as a peacemaker by promoting a ceasefire in Ukraine, the White House’s national security spokesman, John Kirby, says.
Kirby said at a briefing that any ceasefire at this time would not lead to a just and lasting peace between Ukraine and Russia.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 14:25(14:25 GMT)
Moldova in ‘no danger of war’, president says
President Maia Sandu says she sees no danger of war in Moldova while Russia is fighting in Ukraine despite what she says are Russian efforts to destabilise her country.
“There is no danger of war coming to Moldova while Ukraine is fighting,” Sandu told parliament.
“I want to reassure our citizens that Moldova is not now in any danger of war,” she said. “The Russian army cannot get here while Ukraine holds out and [thus] protects Moldova. We are grateful to Ukrainians for their bravery and love of freedom.”
- 17 Mar 2023 - 14:06(14:06 GMT)
Who controls what?
Here are four maps we update daily, charting the latest war developments.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 13:40(13:40 GMT)
Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 387
Click here for a roundup of the war’s key events from day 387.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 13:20(13:20 GMT)
Could the US drone crash lead to an escalation?
A confrontation involving a US drone and Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea has led to a rare talk between the defence ministers of Russia and the US.
Russia’s Ministry of Defence said the appearance of a US drone near Crimea was “provocative”, and many fear a possible escalation between the two superpowers.
Read more about whether the encounter could fuel a new conflict.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 12:54(12:54 GMT)
China should encourage Putin to withdraw troops: UK
Chinese President Xi Jinping should use a trip to Moscow to encourage Putin to withdraw troops from Ukraine, a spokesperson for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
“If China wants to play a genuine role in restoring sovereignty to Ukraine, then we would obviously welcome that,” the spokesperson told reporters.
“We’re clear that any peace deal which is not predicated on Ukraine’s sovereignty and self determination is not a peace deal at all. So we will continue to call on China, as we have done before, to join other countries across the world in calling on Putin to withdraw his troops.”
- 17 Mar 2023 - 12:33(12:33 GMT)
Putin, Xi to discuss Ukraine war during visit: Adviser
Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov said Putin will discuss the Ukraine conflict with his Chinese counterpart during Xi’s state visit to Moscow next week, the news agency RIA reported.
Ushakov said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu would take part in talks with Xi, and that “military-technical cooperation” would be discussed during the visit.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 12:14(12:14 GMT)
Russia is renewing Black Sea grain deal for 60 days: Kremlin
The Kremlin said Russia was extending the Black Sea grain deal for 60 days.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov answered a question about Moscow’s position by saying: “Russia is renewing the deal for 60 days.”
However, both Ukraine and Turkey have said the deal, which is due to expire on Saturday, must be rolled over under the existing terms, including the 120-day minimum extension.
Alessandra Vellucci, director of the United Nations Information Service, said negotiations were continuing.
“The agreement foresees the renewal of 120 days,” she said.
“There are discussions ongoing and we’re not going to speculate on what is going to happen. This is for the discussions’ outcome.”
- 17 Mar 2023 - 11:55(11:55 GMT)
Fighter jets will be destroyed, says the Kremlin
Russia said that all fighter jets supplied to Ukraine would be destroyed after NATO members Poland and Slovakia pledged to send MiG-29 jets to Kyiv.
“In the course of the special military operation, all this equipment will be subject to destruction,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“It feels like all of these countries are thus engaged in the disposal of old unnecessary equipment,” he said.
Moscow has previously accused the West of directly participating in the conflict by supplying weapons and has warned that NATO weapons were legitimate targets for its forces.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 11:40(11:40 GMT)
China’s visit is about brokering ‘peace’: AJ correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow next week is all about “promoting peace between Ukraine and Russia”.
“China’s foreign ministry says that Beijing’s stance during the conflict has been consistent, that all it wants is the two sides to sit down and talk. It released a peace plan to this effect last month outlining this push for dialogue, this push for negotiations,” Yu said.
Yu explained that the visit serves two “goals” for Beijing, one of which will show public support for Russia and of deepening its economic ties with Russia.
“Beijing is [also] going there to promote itself as a global leader and a mediator,” Yu said.
“Xi Jinping is capitalising on the recent success Wang Yi, Beijing’s top diplomat brokering a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran and Xi’s very much going to point out to the international community that speaking to both Russia and Ukraine is something that Beijing can do and the US can not,” she added.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 11:17(11:17 GMT)
Russian defence ministry awards pilots involved in drone incident
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has presented awards to the pilots of two Su-27 fighter planes that intercepted a US drone, the defence ministry said.
On Tuesday, the drone crashed into the Black Sea after being intercepted by Russian jets in the first known direct military encounter between Russia and the United States since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago.
Announcing the awards, the ministry repeated Russia’s version of events, which is disputed by Washington, that the Russian planes did not make physical contact with the drone.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 11:07(11:07 GMT)
Ukraine is ‘illegally attacking’ the church: Kremlin
The Kremlin said that Ukraine was “illegally attacking” the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) – which until recently accepted the authority of the patriarch of Moscow, adding that this confirmed the need for its “special military operation”.
Ukrainian officials last week ordered the UOC to leave the monastery complex in Kyiv, where it is based, drawing fierce condemnation from Moscow.
Pope Francis also called for the “respect” of religious sites.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 10:48(10:48 GMT)
Slovakia approves sending MiG-29 jets to Ukraine
Prime Minister Eduard Heger said that the Slovakian government approved sending MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.
Slovakia is the second country to send warplanes to Kyiv after Poland, which announced on Thursday it would do so.
Despite its fleet of 11 MiG-29 planes being retired last summer, Slovakia will send operational ones, and the rest will go for spare parts.
Slovakia will also supply part of its KUB air defence system, Heger said.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 10:46(10:46 GMT)
Finland, Turkey to discuss NATO bid in Istanbul
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is scheduled to meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul amid expectations that Turkey will approve Finland’s NATO bid.
Erdogan signalled earlier this week that he could send his approval to the Turkish parliament to be ratified, meaning a vote could take place before elections on May 14.
If Turkey approves Finland’s bid, it would mean that the path would be practically clear for Finland to become a NATO member before Sweden.
So far, 28 of the 30 NATO members have ratified their accession protocols, and only Hungary and Turkey remain.
- 17 Mar 2023 - 10:42(10:42 GMT)
China’s Xi to visit Moscow next week
Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Russia next week to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin, the two countries said.
The Kremlin said in a statement that Xi and Putin would discuss “topical issues of further development of comprehensive partnership relations and strategic cooperation between Russia and China” next Monday and Tuesday.
While the statement made no mention of Ukraine, Xi will hold a telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy following his Russia visit, according to some media reports.
Xi’s trip comes after China published a 12-point plan for “a political resolution of the Ukraine crisis” and after a senior Chinese diplomat called on Thursday for negotiations in a call with Ukraine’s foreign minister.
Russia-Ukraine updates: ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin
All the updates for March 17 as they happened.
This blog is now closed, thanks for joining us. These were the updates on the Russia-Ukraine war on Friday, March 17.
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
- Ukraine hails the “historic” move but Russia says the warrant is “meaningless”.
- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will start the process of ratifying Finland’s NATO membership bid in parliament after the Nordic country took concrete steps to keep its promises.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Russia next week to hold talks with Putin, the Kremlin said, as Beijing offers to broker peace in Ukraine.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies