© Reuters. Ukrainian soldiers of the Paratroopers’ of 80th brigade take cover as they fire a mortar shell at a frontline position near Bakhmut, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine March 16, 2023. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura
(Reuters) – Russian drones attacked Ukrainian cities and missiles blasted an apartment block, but a months-long ground assault on the eastern town of Bakhmut could be stalling in the face of fierce resistance, according to Ukrainian and British military experts.
* At least nine people died in the Russian air strikes which Ukrainian President Zelenskiy said showed Moscow was not interested in peace.
* Zelenskiy’s office released a video of him handing out medals to troops it said were near the Bakhmut front line.
* British military intelligence said on Thursday that Russia had partially regained control over the approaches to the eastern Ukrainian town of Kreminna, after its troops were pushed back from the region earlier this year.
* The Russian-backed administration in Sevastopol suspended ferry routes around the Crimean port, shortly after its governor said air defences repelled a Ukrainian drone attack.
* Reuters could not immediately verify battlefield reports.
* Peace plans and pipelines: What came out of the Putin-Xi talks?
* Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping discussed a major new infrastructure project, Power-of-Siberia 2, to deliver gas to China via Mongolia. However, Russia is still waiting on a deal and China has powerful leverage to secure advantageous price terms. China is not expected to need additional gas supply until after 2030.
* During his two-day visit, Xi barely mentioned the Ukraine conflict beyond saying China had an “impartial position”.
* U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China is “very carefully” watching the global response to the invasion but has not yet crossed the line of providing lethal aid to Moscow.
* Any attempt to arrest Putin after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the Kremlin chief would amount to a declaration of war against Russia, his ally Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday.
* EU leaders will discuss the war in Ukraine with U.N. chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday and also endorse a plan to ramp up the supply of artillery shells to Kyiv.
* Turkish President Erdogan said he will have phone call in two to three days with Putin to discuss the Black Sea grain export deal for Ukraine and Russia, Anadolu news agency reported.
* Rebuilding Ukraine’s economy is expected to cost $411 billion, 2.6 times Ukraine’s expected 2022 gross domestic product, an international study found.
* The spiritual head of the world’s Orthodox Christians said Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church shared responsibility for the conflict in Ukraine.