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Latest Developments in Ukraine: March 13

FILE - A man walks with his bicycle through a shopping street destroyed by Russian strikes in the town of Kupiansk, Ukraine, Oct. 18, 2022.
FILE - A man walks with his bicycle through a shopping street destroyed by Russian strikes in the town of Kupiansk, Ukraine, Oct. 18, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia's war on Ukraine. All times EDT.

10:30 p.m.: Agence France-Presse reported that Russia on Monday began the closed-door trial of jailed opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who faces more than two decades in prison on charges including treason for comments critical of the Kremlin.

His high-profile trial is the latest in a string of cases against opposition voices in Russia in a crackdown that has intensified since President Vladimir Putin deployed troops in Ukraine last year.

Kara-Murza, 41, is accused of high treason, spreading "false" information about the Russian army and being affiliated with an "undesirable organization".

He faces up to 25 years in jail, one of his lawyers, Vadim Prokhorov, told reporters on Monday.

9:40 p.m.:

9:00 p.m.: Is Russia running out of tanks? Maybe, according to this Forbes article. Using data gathered by counting damaged and destroyed tanks in images and video from the battlefield, researchers believe Russia may have lost about 1,500 - or 80% - of its first-line T72 tanks in the first year of its invasion of Ukraine. According to Forbes, the may explain why some newly-mobilized Russian battalions are being equipped with obsolete T-62 and T-80B tanks.

8:45 p.m.:

12:30 p.m.: Moscow does not object to renewing a deal allowing the safe export of grain from Ukraine's Black Sea ports but only for a period of 60 days, half the term of the previous renewal, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said on Monday, according to Reuters.

10:03 a.m.: Senior U.N. officials hosted Russian envoys in Geneva on Monday in a bid to extend an export agreement amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and prevent a potential new spike in world food prices, The Associated Press reported

Despite being at war, Ukraine and Russia struck a deal last July that allows Ukraine, one of the world’s key breadbaskets, to ship grain from its Black Sea ports and permits Russia to export food and fertilizers.

The 120-day agreement, which helped take some of the sting out of rising global food prices, was renewed last November. That extension expires on Saturday.

9:00 a.m.: Human Rights Watch says the war in Ukraine has had “devastating consequences for children” in residential institutions. In a report issued Monday, the rights group said “Children have been forcibly transferred to Russia and separated from their families and have suffered traumatic experiences of war and displacement.”

Russia has not commented on the HRW report.

7:29 a.m.: The battle for eastern Ukraine’s Bakhmut featured fierce fighting Monday, according to both sides, as the months-long struggle for control of the area raged on.

Ukraine’s military said it was using artillery, tanks and other weapons to repel Russian attempts to capture the city.

Britain’s defense ministry has assessed in recent days that Russia’s Wagner paramilitary group controls most of the eastern part of Bakhmut, with Ukrainian forces holding the western portion.

Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin described the situation Sunday as “very tough” with the fighting getting more difficult the closer his forces get to the city center.

Russia has targeted Bakhmut as a key part of its wider goal to seize the Donbas region.

5:45 a.m.:

5:20 a.m.:

4:40 a.m.: Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to travel to Russia to meet with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, as soon as next week, people familiar with the matter said, which would be sooner than previously expected according to Reuters.

Plans for a visit come as China has been offering to broker peace in Ukraine, an effort that has been met with skepticism in the West given China's diplomatic support for Russia.

Russia's Tass news agency reported on January 30 that Putin had invited Xi to visit in the spring. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that a visit to Moscow could take place in April or early May.

China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the possibility of Xi going to Moscow and the Kremlin declined to comment.

No other details were immediately available.

The sources briefed on the matter declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue.

Last month, Putin hosted China's top diplomat Wang Yi on a visit to Moscow and signaled that Xi would travel to Russia.

China and Russia struck a "no limits" partnership in February of 2022, when Putin was visiting Beijing for the opening of the Winter Olympics, weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, and the two sides have continued to reaffirm the strength of their ties.

Xi has met Putin in person 39 times since becoming president, most recently in September during a summit in central Asia.

On Monday, Xi wrapped up the annual session of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, during which he was unanimously confirmed in a precedent-breaking third term as president.

3:40 a.m.: Reuters reported that Georgian's prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, called on Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday to not interfere in the political situation in Georgia, after a wave of protests hit the country last week.

During the protests against a "foreign agents" law that critics said signaled an authoritarian shift in Georgia, Zelenskyy thanked protesters for waving Ukrainian flag, saying it showed respect and wished the country a "democratic success."

The Georgian parliament on Friday dropped the bill, which opponents said was inspired by a 2012 Russian law that has been used extensively to crack down on dissent for the past decade and which had threatened to harm Georgia's bid for closer ties with Europe.

"When a person who is at war... responds to the destructive action of several thousand people here in Georgia, this is direct evidence that this person is involved, motivated to make something happen here too, to change," Garibashvili said in an interview with the Georgian IMEDI television, according to Reuters' translation of the transcript.

Referring to the war in Ukraine, Garibashvili said, "I want to wish everyone a timely end to this war, and peace."

3:15 a.m.:

2:55 a.m.: The decision on whether Russian athletes should compete in the Paris Olympics is the biggest headache facing organizers 500 days out from the opening ceremony, former senior IOC officials told Agence France-Presse.

Last year's invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war has prompted many observers to argue that Russia should be banned.

Yet former International Olympic Committee (IOC) marketing chief Michael Payne said the last thing anyone wants is for the Games "to be overshadowed by politics."

Payne, who in nearly two decades at the IOC was credited with negotiating sponsorship deals that vastly improved the body's finances, believes IOC President Thomas Bach is conducting "a very effective consultation process" on the Russian athletes' conundrum.

2:10 a.m.:

1:50 a.m.:

1:20 a.m.: European states increased their imports of major weaponry by 47% in the five years to 2022, while the United States' share of global arms exports rose to 40% from 33%, a leading conflict think-tank said Monday, according to Reuters.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, following years of growing tensions, has prompted European countries to rush to bolster their defenses.

"Even as arms transfers have declined globally, those to Europe have risen sharply due to the tensions between Russia and most other European states," Pieter D. Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), said in a statement.

SIPRI defines major arms as aircraft, warships, tanks, artillery, missiles and various heavy defense systems.

European states in the U.S.-led NATO alliance increased their arms imports by 65% from the previous five-year period. But worldwide, international arms transfers fell 5.1%, according to SIPRI.

The United States and Russia have been the world's largest and second-largest arms exporters for the past three decades.

U.S. arms exports increased by 14% from 2013-17, and the U.S. accounted for 40% of global arms exports. Russia's share fell to 16% from 22%.

12:40 a.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “In less than one week — since March 6 — in the Bakhmut sector alone, they [Ukrainian troops] managed to eliminate more than 1,100 enemy soldiers, which are Russia's irreversible losses, losses there, near Bakhmut. In addition, at least 1,500 more sanitary losses of the enemy — these are wounds incompatible with continuing fighting. Plus, dozens of units of enemy equipment were destroyed. Plus, more than ten Russian ammunition depots were burned.”

He added, “As of today, we have managed to restore the technical capabilities of electricity supply. Kharkiv has electricity. Zhytomyr region has electricity. All cities and communities that had problems with energy supply have been powered again. I thank each and every person who worked for this!”

12:01 a.m.: “Navalny,” a look at a Russian opposition leader following an attempt on his life, has won the Oscar for best documentary feature, The Associated Press reported.

Director Daniel Roher’s portrait of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has shadowy operatives, truth-seeking journalists, conspiracy theories and Soviet-era poisons. It is a film with obvious political poignance following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Roher was able to sit down with Navalny during his brief stay in Berlin in 2020 and early 2021 as he was recovering from being poisoned. The film was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won both the documentary audience award and the festival favorite award.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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