Good morning from Kyiv which today welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida who is en route to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The meeting is doubly significant given that…
What’s happening today?
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are to hold a second day of talks in Moscow, as the internationally isolated Russian leader said he was open to discussing China’s proposals on the fighting in Ukraine.
Xi’s trip to Moscow has been viewed as a major boost for his strategic partner Putin, who is subject to an International Criminal Court warrant over accusations of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.
On Monday, Xi and Putin held four and a half hours of talks, calling each other “dear friend.”
Meanwhile, Japanese leader Fumio Kishida has arrived this morning in Kyiv to offer "solidarity and support" in a meeting with President Zelensky.
Incredible optics today: #Russia's Vladimir Putin and #China's Xi Jinping meeting in #Moscow and - at the same time - #Ukraine's Vlodymyr Zelenskyy will be meeting #Japan's Fumio Kishida in #Kyiv following a surprise visit. The person this most puts the pressure on: Xi Jinping.— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) March 21, 2023
Elsewhere, there has also been another explosive incident in Russian-occupied Crimea where, depending on who you ask, either a batch of Russian cruise missiles or a school and a grocery were destroyed.
You can read more about that story here.
What was in President Zelensky’s latest message?
Ammo, ammo, ammo.
President Zelensky highlighted two new deals to supply Ukraine with badly needed ammunition.
“Our European partners have agreed on a joint plan to accelerate the supply of shells for our artillery,” he said during his daily address on Monday evening. “This decision is worth €2 billion. It provides for both emergency supply and production of ammunition.”
You can read more about that deal here.
Zelensky added: “A new defense package from the United States was also announced today. The amount is $350 million. This is for rockets for HIMARS, artillery shells and other ammunition – everything we really need to support our warriors.
“I am grateful to President Biden, Congress, and all Americans.”
What’s the latest military situation?
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) update on March 21 focuses on the “thousands of Russian convicts who have fought for Wagner Group are likely to be pardoned and released” in the coming weeks after being offered commutation of their sentences after six months as part of their service agreements.
The MoD notes: “Although approximately half of the prisoners recruited have likely been killed or wounded, evidence from Russia suggests the group is following through on its promise to free survivors.
“The certificates issued to freed Wagner veterans claim to have been endorsed by the decree of President Putin.”
As well as causing Wagner serious manpower issues, “the sudden influx of often violent offenders with recent and often traumatic combat experience will likely present a significant challenge for Russia’s war-time society.”
The Institute for the Study of War’s March 21 daily assessment covers a number of topics, most notably:
· Russian forces made marginal gains in and around Bakhmut amid a reported increase in the tempo of Russian operations around Avdiivka.
· Wagner Group Financier Yevgeny Prigozhin appears to maintain powerful political leverage and regional connections within Russia despite some officials’ attempts to distance themselves from the Wagner Group.
· The Russian information space continues to respond to the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s issuance of arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Commissioner on Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova with ire and anxiety.
And that’s it for today’s Morning Memo.
Kyiv Post will bring you the latest news throughout the day and we’ll be back with another edition tomorrow.
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