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Latest on Ukraine: Xi Jinping visits Moscow to meet Putin (March 20)

China's leader Xi Jinping claps as he listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin via a video link, from the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec. 2, 2019. Xi will meet Putin this week on a visit to Moscow.
Noel Celis
Pool photo via AP
China's leader Xi Jinping claps as he listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin via a video link, from the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec. 2, 2019. Xi will meet Putin this week on a visit to Moscow.

Here's a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week.

What to watch

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is visiting Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There are reports Xi may also hold a virtual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Turkey is due to ratify Finland's bid to join NATO. Sweden is still waiting for Turkish approval.

The International Monetary Fund made a rule change that could allow a reported multibillion dollar loan to Ukraine, which the war-battered country has been seeking.

What happened last week

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Putin and his children's rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova. The court said the two are "allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation" and transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia.

Putin made a surprise visit to Mariupol, a Russian-occupied city in eastern Ukraine that saw some of the war's most intense fighting last year.

Putin also visited Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the peninsula's annexation from Ukraine, which most governments condemned and consider illegal.

A Russian warplane collided with a U.S. drone, forcing the American uncrewed aircraft to crash into the Black Sea, the U.S. military said. U.S. officials said the drone was flying in international airspace when two Russian fighter jets intercepted it, one of them clipping the drone's propeller. Russia's government denied the collision but awardedthe pilots of the two fighter jets.

Poland and Slovakia will send MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, the first NATO countries to answer Kyiv's call for allies to share their warplanes to fight Russian forces. The U.S. has refused Ukraine's request for F-16s.

Russia and Ukraine extended the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to safely ship Ukrainian grain and seed abroad, which was due to expire Saturday.

The Russian offensive in Ukraine has slowed, failing to gain more than incremental territory in the first few months of the year, the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War says. The British Defense Ministry said a Russian ammunition shortage has likely tightened the military's rationing in many parts of the front.

Leaders of Belarus and Iran hailed their countries' ties in meetings in Tehran. Wedged between Ukraine and Russia, Belarus is a Kremlin ally and has followed its footsteps in warming up to China and Iran, which has supplied attack drones to Russia.

Russia now has the lowest approval rating in America since Soviet times, with just 9% of the U.S. public surveyed saying they have a favorable view of the country, according to Gallup.


China's Xi Jinping flexes his diplomatic muscle with a visit to Moscow.

The International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for Putin.

An infamous Russian unit that downed a civilian plane in 2014 was active in Ukraine.

Turkey says it will ratify Finland's bid to join NATO.

Putin makes a surprise visit to Mariupol and tours an occupied city destroyed by war.

Russia agrees to extend the Ukraine grain deal again.

Russia awards pilots involved in confrontation with a U.S. drone over Black Sea.

Poland will send fighter jets to Ukraine, the first NATO country to do so.

The U.S. military releases footage of Black Sea drone crash with Russian jet.

Despite the downed drone, the U.S. says it will keep flying near Ukraine.

A look at one volunteer's efforts to rescue civilians from Bakhmut, Ukraine.

A center in Ukraine's northeast offers soldiers some badly needed rest.

Are toxic substances from the war contaminating Ukraine's farmland?

Ron DeSantis says "becoming further entangled" in Ukraine is not in the U.S. interest.

Special report

Russia's war in Ukraine is changing the world: See our updated report on its ripple effects in all corners of the globe.

Earlier developments

You can read past recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find more of NPR's coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR's State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.