These are the key events so far on Thursday, March 17.
- Ukraine’s foreign ministry has said Russian forces bombed a theatre in Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were sheltering. Russia denied carrying out an attack.
- Ukraine handed over nine captured Russian soldiers to secure the freedom of the mayor of the city of Melitopol, who was detained last week, the Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted a senior official as saying.
- Russia’s invasion has largely stalled on all fronts, with its forces suffering heavy losses and making minimal progress in recent days, British military intelligence said in a regular update.
- President Vladimir Putin has said Russia was ready to discuss Ukraine’s neutral status but that Moscow would still achieve the goals of its military operation.
- The United Nations Security Council is due to vote on Friday on a Russian-drafted call for aid access and civilian protection, but diplomats say the measure is set to fail because it does not push for an end to the fighting or withdrawal of Russian troops.
- US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and General Nikolay Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, held the first high-level contact between the countries since the invasion began.
- United States officials told The New York Times that Russia’s military has lost more than 7,000 soldiers in its three-week invasion of Ukraine. Russia has not provided a new update since March 2, when it gave a death toll of 498.
- The Governor of the northern city of Chernihiv said 53 civilians had been killed there in bombardment over the past 24 hours.
- Hungary expects a “bigger wave” of refugees to arrive from Ukraine next week, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on a video posted on his Facebook page. About three million people have fled Ukraine, nearly half of them children, according to the UN refugee agency.
- Russia is due to make a $117m interest payment on its foreign debt. Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov said Moscow had made the payment which had reached the correspondent US bank, and it was now down to Washington to clarify whether the settlement is possible.
News sites blocked
- Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor has blocked access to at least 32 websites, ramping up a crackdown on the media launched after the start of the war. Media affected included the BBC, the investigative website Bellingcat and regional site Permdaily.ru
Source: with agencies