As the Russia-Ukraine war enters its 372nd day, we take a look at the main developments.
Here is the situation as it stands on Thursday, March 2, 2023:
- Ukrainian forces are fiercely resisting a Russian attempt to seize the small city of Bakhmut and are throwing massive extra reserves into the bloody battle, said Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force.
- Russia says seizing Bakhmut would open the way to fully control the rest of the strategic Donbas industrial region bordering Russia.
- Ukraine says Bakhmut has limited strategic value but is putting up fierce resistance to inflict as many Russian losses as possible and make Russia use its ammunition and resources. Thousands of civilians remain inside Bakhmut from a pre-war population of about 70,000.
- Colin Kahl, the US undersecretary of defence for policy, described the front line in Ukraine as a “grinding slog” and said he did not expect Russia to be able to make significant territorial gains in the near term.
- Ukrainians and Russians traditionally mark March 1 as the start of spring. Already, the frozen ground has melted at the front, ushering in the season of sucking black mud – “bezdorizhzhia” in Ukrainian, “rasputitsa” in Russian – that has been notorious in military history for destroying attacking armies.
- The yearlong Russian war in Ukraine took centre-stage on the eve of a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, with the European Union foreign policy chief saying the success of the gathering in New Delhi would be measured by what it could do about the war and its effect.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he has no plans to meet the foreign ministers of Russia or China during the G20 meeting.
Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said he was introducing amendments to a wartime censorship law that would increase the maximum penalty for discrediting the army from five to 15 years in jail and extend the law to cover the Wagner mercenary force.
- Russia said it would only agree to extend the Black Sea grain deal, which allows grain to be safely exported from Ukrainian ports if the interests of its agricultural producers are taken into account.