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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Several civilians killed in overnight Russian strikes: Ukrainian news agency

A residential building damaged after Russia conducted a drone attack in the town of Rzhyshchiv in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 22, 2023.

Oleksii Chumachenko | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Several people were killed in Russian strikes on different parts of Ukraine overnight, Ukrainian state broadcaster Suspilne reported. The attacks used Iranian-made “Shahed” drones and fighter jets, the agency said.

“At night, Russian troops shelled a “point of invincibility” in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region. Three resettled women from other settlements of the region died under the rubble, and two more people were injured,” Suspilne wrote in a Telegram post, according to a Google translation.

“Sumy district came under massive fire at night: the Russian Federation used about ten fighter jets, artillery and “Shahed” drones. Two people were killed in the city of Bilopillya, nine others were injured. In Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk oblast, there were five hits by “Shahed” drones. Air defense forces managed to shoot down one,” the post read.

CNBC has not independently verified the information.

— Natasha Turak

Russia likely to keep training forces under ‘much less experienced’ Belarusian army, UK says

Russia’s troop movements in Belarus suggest that it is continuing a training program in the country with Belarusian forces, despite the latter’s military being far less experienced, Britain’s Ministry of Defense wrote in its daily intelligence update on Twitter. Retaining a training ground there also conveys important political messaging, it said.

“As of mid-March 2023, Russia had likely redeployed at least 1,000 troops who had been training at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in south-western Belarus,” the ministry wrote.

“Although no new rotation of troops has been noted, Russia has highly likely left the tented camp in place, suggesting it is considering continuing the training programme,” it noted.

“The fact Russia has resorted to training its personnel under the much less-experienced Belarusian army highlights how Russia’s ‘special military operation’ has severely dislocated the Russian military’s training system – instructors have largely been deployed in Ukraine.”

— Natasha Turak

China’s plan to end the war in Ukraine is ‘unfair,’ Estonia says

China’s peace proposal to end the war in Ukraine is “extremely unfair,” the permanent secretary of Estonia’s Ministry of Defense told CNBC.

Beijing’s 12-point peace plan doesn’t respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and hasn’t been fair to its people, Kusti Salm told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Friday.

“Whenever we measure … the feasibility of any peace deal, it needs to be measured against the same principles. Are we outrooting the aggression as a tool?” he asked.

“Are we honoring the territorial integrity and sovereignty of independent nations?”

Those are the “key ingredients and elements missing” from China’s peace proposal, he said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s three-day visit to Russia concluded on Wednesday, but failed to make any meaningful breakthrough in resolving Ukraine’s conflict.

For more, read here.

— Audrey Wan and Sumathi Bala

Zelenskyy calls on EU to continue supporting Ukraine, imposing pressure on Russia

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Bucha, Ukraine, in 2022.

Ronaldo Schemidt | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that if Europe hesitates in supporting Ukraine, “evil may have time to regroup and prepare itself for years of war.”

“It is in your power not to allow this to happen,” Zelenskyy said in a sweeping speech before members of the European Council.

The Ukrainian president also reiterated calls for more military aid from European leaders.

“The more often Ukrainian cannons hit the occupier – the less chance Russia has to implement its genocidal policy against Ukrainians and other Europeans,” Zelenskyy said.

“God forbid anyone should see it happen in his or her own country,” he added.

Zelenskyy also thanked members of the European Union that support the work of the International Criminal Court in holding Russian President Vladimir Putin to account for the ongoing war in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine signals counterattack is coming as Wagner mercenaries take a hit

Ukrainian soldiers firing artillery in the direction of Bakhmut on March 21, 2023.

Diego Herrera Carcedo | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s most senior ground forces commander said the country’s forces will launch a much-anticipated counteroffensive “very soon” just as Russian forces are seen to be losing momentum in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Telegram Thursday that Russian forces have not given up “hope of taking Bakhmut at any cost, despite the losses in manpower and equipment,” noting that the main Russian units taking a hit were mercenaries in the Wagner Group.

“Without sparing anything, they lose considerable strength,” he said, adding that “very soon we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we once did near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk,” he said, according to comments translated by Google.

The comments come as military analysts view Russia’s offensive around Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine as losing momentum after seven months of brutal, incessant fighting that has left Bakhmut largely in ruins and thousands of soldiers dead on both sides, estimates of daily fatalities suggest.

Ukraine has previously signalled that it would launch a counter-offensive in spring but has also been waiting for the arrival of more Western weaponry.

Syrskyi said soldiers on the front line in Bakhmut had demonstrated “superhuman resilience, courage and bravery” in the face of “continuous fire of the enemy’s artillery and aircraft.”

— Holly Ellyatt

A look at the uranium-based ammo the UK will send to Ukraine

Two Ukrainian servicemen speak atop a tank following a battle against Russian troops and Russia-backed separatists near Zolote village, Lugansk region on March 6, 2022.

Anatolii Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

Russia threatened to escalate attacks in Ukraine after the British government announced it would provide to Ukraine a type of munition that Moscow falsely claims has nuclear components.

The British defense ministry on Monday confirmed it would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.

Such rounds were developed by the U.S. during the Cold War to destroy Soviet tanks, including the same T-72 tanks that Ukraine now faces in its push to break through a stalemate in the east.

Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process needed to create nuclear weapons. The rounds retain some radioactive properties, but they can’t generate a nuclear reaction like a nuclear weapon would, RAND nuclear expert and policy researcher Edward Geist said.

That didn’t stop the Russians from offering a full-throated warning that the rounds were opening the door to further escalation. In the past, they have suggested the war could escalate to nuclear weapons use.

Both the the British ministry and the White House dismissed the Russian accusations. But the ammunition does carry risks even if it’s not a nuclear weapon.

— Associated Press

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