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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jane Clinton and agencies

Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 396 of the invasion

Ukrainian soldiers from an anti-aircraft unit are seen in position, at an undisclosed location near the frontline city of Bakhmut.
Ukrainian soldiers from an anti-aircraft unit are seen in position, at an undisclosed location near the frontline city of Bakhmut, amid the fight against Russia’s invasion. Photograph: Roman Chop/EPA
  • Nato has criticised Russia for its “dangerous and irresponsible” nuclear rhetoric, a day after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said Russia would station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Reuters reports.

  • Kyiv has reacted to Russia’s plans in Belarus by calling for an emergency meeting of the United Nations security council.

  • In a statement, Kyiv’s foreign ministry described Russia’s plans to station nuclear weapons in Belarus as “another provocative step” by Moscow that undermines “the international security system as a whole”. Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, said the Kremlin has taken Belarus as a “nuclear hostage”. Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak accused Putin of violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and resorting to “scare” tactics.

  • Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, has cautioned Belarus against hosting Russian nuclear weapons on its territory. Borrell tweeted: “#Belarus hosting Russian nuclear weapons would mean an irresponsible escalation & threat to European security. Belarus can still stop it, it is their choice. The EU stands ready to respond with further sanctions.”

  • The US has not seen any indication that Russia has yet moved nuclear weapons to Belarus, the national security council spokesperson, John Kirby, said on Sunday. “We have not seen any indication that he [Putin] has made good on this pledge or moved any nuclear weapons around,” Kirby told CBS.

  • Three people were reported injured and three residential buildings were damaged after an explosion in the town of Kireyevsk in Russia’s Tula region. Law enforcement has attributed the blast to a Ukrainian Tu-141 Strizh UAV drone “packed with explosives”. None of the people hurt in the blast are believed to have suffered life-threatening injuries, Reuters reported, citing Russian news agencies.

  • Russia and China are not creating a military alliance, Putin said in a televised interview broadcast. Putin stated that the two countries’ military cooperation was transparent, news agencies reported.

  • The UK Ministry of Defence says that since the start of March 2023, Russia is likely to have launched at least 71 Iranian-designed Shahed series one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicle (OWA-UAVS) against targets across Ukraine. It says Russia is likely launching Shaheds from two axes: from Russia’s Krasnodar Krai in the east and from Bryansk oblast in the north-east.

  • Ukraine will no longer resort to “dangerous” monetary financing to fund the war against Russia, its central bank governor, Andriy Pyshnyi, told the Financial Times in an interview published on Sunday.

  • Ukrainian refugees are increasingly being targeted for sexual exploitation with an increase in interest in pornography claiming to feature refugees from the war-torn country, according to research by Thomson Reuters.

  • Ukraine’s deputy minister of defence, Hanna Maliar, went on Facebook to urge Ukrainians to not openly discuss details about the country’s upcoming offensive. “On live broadcasts, don’t ask experts questions [in the vein of] ‘how is the counter-offensive going?’, don’t write blogs or posts on this topic, and don’t discuss military plans of our army publicly at all. We have one strategic plan – to liberate all our territories. And as for the details – that’s simply a military secret,” Maliar wrote.

  • The head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency will visit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant next week to assess the serious security situation there, the IAEA said. Rafael Grossi said in a statement that the nuclear safety and security dangers at the Russian-held plant were “all too obvious”.

  • Russia fired on a humanitarian aid delivery point in the city of Kherson on Saturday, injuring two civilians, according to the Ukrainian military. Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Kherson regional military administration, said: “Russian occupiers continue shelling the places where civilians are provided with aid.”

  • The top commander of Ukraine’s military has said that his forces are pushing back against Russian troops in the long and grinding battle for the town of Bakhmut. Separately, Britain’s defence ministry said the months-long Russian assault on the city had stalled, mainly as a result of heavy troop losses. British military intelligence also said Russia appeared to be moving to a defensive strategy in eastern Ukraine, Associated Press reported.

  • Several buildings were damaged but no one was injured after the detonation of a naval mine that hit some coastline facilities in Odesa, according to the Odesa city council. The Kyiv Independent quoted authorities as saying that no one was injured.

  • Russian oil company Gazprom reduced gas exports to the EU through Ukraine by 15%, the Kyiv Independent reports. On 24 March, Gazprom recorded a gas transit flow of 42.5m cubic metres. A day later, the volume decreased to 36.2m cubic metres.

  • The US president, Joe Biden, and the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, have displayed a united front against authoritarian regimes as Biden visited the Canadian capital days after the leaders of China and Russia held a Moscow summit. Reuters reported that images of Biden and Trudeau standing side by side in Ottawa on Friday announcing agreements including on semiconductors and migration represented a counterpoint to the scene in Moscow days ago.

  • The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, spoke by phone with Putin and thanked him for his “positive attitude” in extending the Black Sea grain deal, the Turkish presidency said on Saturday. It said the two leaders discussed steps to improve Turkish-Russian relations, and developments regarding the war in Ukraine, and that Erdoğan expressed the importance of ending the conflict through negotiations as soon as possible, Reuters reported.

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