The war that began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has passed a grim one-year milestone, with mounting military and civilian deaths.
As fighting rages in and around Bakhmut, Western nations have raised their military support for Ukraine to the highest level yet, with commitments to send main battle tanks.
Read our in-depth coverage. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.
Xi, Putin signal unity against U.S. in joint statement
Kishida tells Zelenskyy G-7 will stay united on Ukraine support
Xi wins Putin’s backing on Taiwan, plays peacemaker on Ukraine
‘Fear for our families’: A year of Putin’s war through the eyes of Ukrainians
Price of an invasion: Self-exiled Russians face uncertain future in Georgia
Note: Nikkei Asia decided in March 2022 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.
Here are the latest developments:
Monday, March 27 (Tokyo time)
5:50 p.m. Kazakhstan says it will require exporters to file additional documents when sending goods to Russia, following reports that Russian companies have been using local intermediaries to bust Western sanctions. Russia is Kazakhstan’s main trading partner and after the West barred sales of thousands of goods to Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, some Kazakh businesses started purchasing such items and reselling them to Russian firms. The Astana government, however, has pledged to uphold the sanctions, and said on Monday that the new rules, effective from April 1 and applying to exports within the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, would reduce “underground” trade.
9:30 a.m. NATO castigated Vladimir Putin over his nuclear rhetoric a day after the Russian president said he planned to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, escalating a standoff with the West. The plan is one of Russia’s clearest nuclear signals since the start of its invasion of Ukraine 13 months ago, and Ukraine called for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in response. “Russia’s nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said on Sunday.
12:05 a.m. Ukraine demands an extraordinary meeting of the United Nations Security Council over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
Russia’s announcement is “yet another provocative step” that undermines the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the architecture of nuclear disarmament, and “the international security system as a whole,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says.
Putin had said that the stationing would not violate nonproliferation obligations and that the U.S. had been placing tactical nuclear weapons in Germany and other allied countries “for decades.” The U.S. and Russia are two of the Security Council’s five permanent members, all of which have veto power over its resolutions.
Sunday, March 26
10:00 a.m. The U.S. said it would “monitor the implications” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said, according to AP. “We remain committed to the collective defense of the NATO alliance.”
3:00 a.m. Putin says on state TV that he has struck a deal with Belarus to station tactical nuclear weapons on the latter’s territory. He says he was responding to the U.K.’s decision this past week to provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium. Russia falsely claimed these rounds have nuclear components.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has long raised the issue of stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which borders Poland, Putin says.
Russia will maintain control over the tactical nuclear weapons. Construction of storage facilities for them would be completed by July 1, Putin adds.
12:10 a.m. Russia has pardoned more than 5,000 former criminals who were released to fight in Ukraine with a mercenary group. “At the present time, more than 5,000 people have been released on pardon after completing their contracts with Wagner,” Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Group and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, says on Telegram.
The group, originally staffed by battle-hardened veterans of the Russian armed forces, took on a much more prominent role in the Ukraine war after the Russian army suffered a series of humiliating defeats last year.
Saturday, March 25
9 p.m. New Zealand’s Foreign Ministry says it has expressed concern to Beijing over any lethal aid to Russia. Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta conveyed the concerns during a four-day trip to China where she met her Chinese counterpart, her office says.
On the Ukraine war, Mahuta reiterated her government’s condemnation of Moscow’s “illegal invasion” to Qin Gang.She also told Qin’s predecessor Wang Yi, now the Chinese Communist Party’s most senior foreign policy official, that peace and prosperity are the expectations of all parties, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua.
7:00 a.m. China has not yet provided Russia with weapons for the war on Ukraine, U.S. President Biden tells reporters.
“They haven’t yet,” Biden says in response to a question at a news conference alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Doesn’t mean they won’t, but they haven’t.”
“I don’t take China lightly. I don’t take Russia lightly. But I think we vastly exaggerate,” Biden says when asked about rising trade between the two countries.
3:30 a.m. The U.S. announces new sanctions against companies and people seen as enabling the Belarusian government to repress democracy.
U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also identifies a luxury Boeing 737 belonging to the government of Belarus and used by President Alexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko “has exclusive access to [the plane] and other luxury aircraft and uses them for personal trips,” the OFAC says. He has also used it “with his family and other members of his entourage for international travel.”
Among the targets of the latest sanctions are two automobile plants that generate revenue for the Lukashenko regime, according to the OFAC. “As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.”
Friday, March 24
5:00 p.m. Russia’s central bank has extended a ban on retail investors buying shares in companies from what Russia deems “unfriendly” countries for another six months. Russia has labeled all countries that imposed sanctions on it over its military campaign in Ukraine — including the 27 members of the European Union — as “unfriendly” and leveled a range of financial countersanctions against them. The central bank said the ban on selling securities of companies from “unfriendly” countries to so-called unqualified investors would be carried forward until Oct. 1. The central bank says its measures are designed to protect Russian retail investors from the impact of sanctions.
6:30 a.m. European Union leaders endorse a plan for sending Ukraine 1 million rounds of artillery ammunition within the next 12 months to help it counter Russia’s invasion forces. EU foreign and defense ministers approved the plan for a fast-track purchasing procedure earlier this week, and the leaders of the bloc’s 27 member nations gave it their political blessing at a summit in Brussels on Thursday. “Taking into account the security and defense interests of all member states, the European Council welcomes the agreement … to deliver ground-to-ground and artillery ammunition to Ukraine and, if requested, missiles,” the meeting’s conclusions on Ukraine read.
12:30 a.m. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto signs legislation making his country part of NATO. The move means Finland has completed national measures needed to join the Western military alliance, and is now just awaiting approval from Turkey and Hungary, the only two of NATO’s 30 existing members that have not ratified its bid.
On the same day in Turkey, a parliamentary committee approves Finland’s application, the state-run Anadolu Agency reports, bringing Helsinki a step closer to joining the alliance. Finland’s application could be ratified by the full Turkish assembly as early as next week.
Thursday, March 23
5:30 p.m. Any attempt to arrest President Vladimir Putin after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the Kremlin chief would amount to a declaration of war against Russia, Putin’s ally and former President Dmitry Medvedev says. “Let’s imagine — obviously this situation which will never be realized — but nevertheless let’s imagine that it was realized: The current head of the nuclear state went to a territory, say Germany, and was arrested,” Medvedev said. “What would that be? It would be a declaration of war on the Russian Federation,” he said in a video posted on Telegram. “And in that case, all our assets — all our missiles, et cetera — would fly to the Bundestag, to the chancellor’s office.”
4:10 p.m. Russia says it has launched a military satellite into space from the Plesetsk cosmodrome. “On Thursday, March 23, at 09:40 a.m., a medium-class Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle carrying a spacecraft for the Russian Defense Ministry was launched from the Plesetsk launch site in Arkhangelsk Region by combat crews of the Space Forces,” the ministry said.
6:00 a.m. A World Bank report released on Wednesday puts the cost of Ukraine’s recovery and rebuilding from Russia’s invasion at $411 billion over the next decade, with the cost of cleaning up the war rubble alone at $5 billion. The report details some of the toll of Russia’s war in Ukraine: at least 9,655 civilians confirmed dead, including 461 children; nearly 2 million homes damaged; more than one of five public health institutions damaged; and 650 ambulances damaged or looted. In all, the World Bank calculates $135 billion in direct damage to buildings and infrastructure so far, not counting broader economic damage.
Wednesday, March 22
4:46 p.m. Three people have been killed in an overnight Russian drone strike on civilian infrastructure in the Kyiv region, Ukrainian officials say. The State Emergency Service says on the Telegram messaging app that two dormitories and an educational facility in the city of Rzhyshchiv had been partially destroyed in the attack. “Over 20 Iranian murderous drones, plus missiles, numerous shelling incidents, and that’s just in one last night of Russian terror against Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy writes on Twitter. Suggesting Russia did not want peace in Ukraine after almost 13 months of war, his post says: “Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes.”
4:30 p.m. Russia will always remain important for Europe, according to Austria’s foreign minister, who adds that to think otherwise is delusional. Alexander Schallenberg also defends the country’s second-biggest bank, Raiffeisen Bank International, saying it is unreasonable to single out the lender for doing business in Russia while so many other Western firms are doing the same. “To think that there won’t be Russia anymore and we can decouple in all areas is delusional,” Schallenberg tells Reuters, adding that while Austria will loosen ties this “can’t happen overnight.”
4:35 a.m. The Group of Seven nations are unshakable in their support for Ukraine, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tells Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv. Kishida, who will host G-7 leaders in Hiroshima this May, pledges $30 million in nonlethal aid for Ukraine. He is the last G-7 leader to visit Ukraine since Russia invaded it in February 2022. At a news conference after their meeting, the Ukrainian president calls Kishida a strong defender of the international order and thanks Japan for its leadership. Zelenskyy says he intends to participate virtually in the G-7 summit. Read more.
1:20 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country will be forced to respond if the U.K. supplies depleted uranium shells to Ukraine, Interfax reports. Speaking after talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Putin claims the West is already starting to use weapons with a nuclear component. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Russia would have a response to the provision of depleted uranium shells to Ukraine, which was announced by the British side as part of its military support. Depleted uranium is used for tank armor and armor-piercing bullets. While most of the radioactive material is gone from the metal, depleted uranium is “both a toxic chemical and radiation health hazard when inside the body,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
For earlier updates, click here.