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Latest Developments in Ukraine: March 6

A Ukrainian soldier sits in a trench near Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 5, 2023.

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

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

11 p.m.: A Czech company that produces inflatable tanks and other decoy military weapons has seen a huge increase in demand since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Reuters had the full story.

10:18 p.m.: U.S. benchmark wheat futures dropped below $7 per bushel on Monday for the first time in 17 months, pressured by reminders of adequate global supplies and optimism that the safe corridor to export grain from war-torn Ukraine will be extended, traders said, according to a Reuters report.

Corn futures also declined. But soybeans rose as Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soymeal futures hit life-of-contract highs on worries about Argentina's drought-hit crops.

8:57 p.m.: Ukraine's top prosecutor said on Monday that a criminal investigation had been launched into what he called the "brutal and brazen shooting of an unarmed person" depicted in a video shared on social media, and accused Russia of ignoring the laws of war, Reuters reported.

8:11 p.m.: A Ukrainian military commander has described "hellish" conditions in and around Bakhmut, but he and others vowed to continue the bloody fight for the eastern city, while Russia's defense minister kept up a morale-building effort in the war zone and the head of the Wagner mercenary group stoked further tensions with Russian military commanders, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

"The situation in Bakhmut and around it is utter hell, as it is on the entire eastern front," Volodymyr Nazarenko, a commander of troops in Bakhmut, said in a Telegram video on March 6 amid reports that some Ukrainian forces were beginning tactical withdrawals from frontline positions.

7:21 p.m.: Ukraine has brought 307 children out of Russia-occupied territories, the country's human rights ombudsman said on Monday, including an 8-year-old boy who was recently reunited with his grandmother, Reuters reported.

Ukraine's authorities estimate more than 16,000 children have been deported to Russia since the start of the war a year ago. Russia has said it has been evacuating people voluntarily from Ukraine.

"At the end of February, the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights received a request to help bring back a child who was in the territory temporarily occupied by Russia," Dmytro Lubinets, the ombudsman, said on the Telegram messaging platform.

6:18 p.m.: Dramatic footage has emerged from the first days of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine a year ago. TV cameraman Serhiy Kylymnyk was using amateur equipment to document how Russian troops were attacking his town when a tank opened fire on the window he was filming from. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the report.

5:35 p.m.: NATO intelligence estimates that for every Ukrainian soldier killed defending Bakhmut, Russian forces have lost at least five, a military official with the North Atlantic alliance told CNN on Monday.

The official cautioned that the five-to-one ratio was an informed estimate based on intelligence.

The official spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to discuss this intelligence. Despite the favorable ratio, they also said Ukraine was suffering significant losses defending the city.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly claimed they were inflicting heavy losses on Russia as Moscow tried to take Bakhmut.

“Our defenders inflicted significant losses on the enemy, destroyed a large number of vehicles, forced Wagner's best assault units to fight and reduced the enemy's offensive potential,” Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ukraine’s land forces, said after a visit to Bakhmut on Sunday.

5:05 p.m.: Ukraine has broadened a request for controversial cluster bombs from the United States

Kyiv has urged members of Congress to press the White House to approve sending cluster bombs against Russian forces. Cluster munitions, have been banned by more than 120 countries, normally release large numbers of smaller bomblets that can kill indiscriminately over a wide area, threatening civilians.

Ukraine is seeking the MK-20, an air-delivered cluster bomb, to release its individual explosives from drones, said U.S. Representatives Jason Crow and Adam Smith, who both serve on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. That is in addition to 155 mm artillery cluster shells that Ukraine already has requested, they said.

Ukraine hopes its petition for MK-20s — also known as CBU-100s — cluster munitions will give it an edge in the grinding fight against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.

According to Reuters, the petition for these munitions has not been reported previously.

The Ukrainian Embassy referred Reuters to the defense ministry in Kyiv, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

4:30 p.m.: A program by “Sixty Minutes” focuses on stories of freed Ukrainian prisoners of war. Andriy Yermak, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Chief of Staff, says although 1,800 Ukrainians have been freed, an estimated 4,000 remain.

4:05 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy refuted reports that said there is division of opinion among military brass on whether Ukraine should keep defending Bakhmut or withdraw from the besieged city. Zelenskyy said the decision to keep defending the devastated city was “unanimously backed by the Staff. There is no part of Ukraine about which one can say that it can be abandoned. There is no Ukrainian trench in which the resilience and heroism of our warriors would be disregarded,” said Zelenskyy. “We are defending and will continue to defend every part of Ukraine. When the time comes, we will liberate every city and village of our country. And we will hold the occupier accountable for every shot against Ukraine, for every meanness against Ukrainians,” he added.

2:55 p.m.:

2:20 p.m.: The United States' list of recently sanctioned entities for alleged support for Russia's war effort in Ukraine includes two Canadian companies, U.S. and Canadian authorities said Monday.

Reuters reports, the two Montreal-based electronics distribution companies - Cpunto Inc and Electronic Network Inc - were listed for "acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States" and are subject to U.S. export restrictions, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

The U.S. government on Thursday asked companies to ensure they comply with Russia-related sanctions imposed after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, warning that a failure to do so could lead to potential prosecution or enforcement actions.

The Commerce Department recently imposed export restrictions on nearly 90 Russian and third-country companies and prohibited them from buying items such as semiconductors.

The Canada Border Services Agency told CBC News on Monday that the two sanctioned companies were identified as part of a "global effort" to support Russia. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Commerce Department list did not mention what the two companies shipped or attempted to ship that triggered U.S. action.

1:15 p.m.: A Belarusian "court" has sentenced opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in absentia to 15 years in prison. Ukrainska Pravda reports. The accused were found guilty of "conspiracy committed with the aim of seizing state power in an unconstitutional way," according to Belarussian state publication Belta.

In a twitter post Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who ran against Lukashenko for the presidency in 2020 calling for release of political prisoners and strengthening democratic institutions in Belarus, said “Today I don't think about my own sentence. I think about thousands of innocents, detained & sentenced to real prison terms."

12:35 p.m.: The oil market has stabilized as worst fears about shortages of crude, gas and fuel in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine have been allayed, Gunvor Chief Executive Torbjorn Tornqvist said Monday.

"Last year, there was an enormous amount of disruptions, a global energy crisis: coal, gas, oil looked very, very tight," Tornqvist told an audience at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.

Swiss-based Gunvor is one of the world's top oil traders, moving around 3.2 million barrels per day of oil, Reuters reports.

"The worst fears about winter, gas or diesel shortage, didn't come true," Tornqvist said.

12:10 p.m.: Three Russian soldiers have been identified as reportedly being involved in the shooting of Ukrainian civilians trying to escape the Ukrainian city of Irpin in March 2022. Ivan Dulkai, senior investigator from the Main Investigative Department of the National Police, said Russian soldiers threw a grenade into the first car of an evacuation convoy, which included a family with a 1.5-year-old child. The driver died on the spot and the front-seat passenger later succumbed to his injuries. The woman with her child survived.

The Kyiv Independent reports, Russian soldiers continued to shoot at other defenseless vehicles in the convoy. They then took the survivors and held them for several hours in a captured house, but "they did not allow anyone to take away the severely wounded who were lying on the ground and slowly dying, nor did they allow the bodies of the dead to be taken away," said Dulkai.

11:45 a.m.: A Czech company that produces more than 30 different inflatable military decoys, including tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft and howitzers, has seen sales soar over the past year. Its products include U.S.-made HIMARS rocket systems, the weapons that were among the billions of dollars in Western military aid that has helped Ukraine fight off the Russians since the Feb. 24 invasion. Inflatech chief executive Vojtech Fresser won't say if his decoys are used by Ukrainian forces. The decoys can deceive enemy cameras, thermo-cameras and radars into believing they have pinpointed a valuable target and use expensive missiles to destroy it, AP reports.

11:15 a.m.: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday that if the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut fell, it would not presuppose that Moscow had regained the initiative in the war.

"I think it is more of a symbolic value than it is strategic and operational value," Austin told reporters while visiting Jordan. "The fall of Bakhmut won't necessarily mean that the Russians have changed the tide of this fight," he said. He added that he would not predict whether or when Bakhmut might fall.

Volodymyr Nazarenko, a Ukrainian commander in Bakhmut, said there had been no order to retreat and "the defense is holding," albeit in conditions of "utter hell," Reuters reports.

Russian artillery has been barraging the last routes out of the city, aiming to complete its encirclement, but Yevgeni Prighozin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary group leading the assault, has said his troops are don’t have enough ammunition.

10:15 a.m.: Estonia's center-right Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has won reelection. AP reports, Kallas is one of Europe’s most outspoken supporters of Ukraine. Her Reform Party overwhelmingly won the Baltic country’s general election on Sunday. A far-right populist challenger focusing on national security and the economy lost the vote. According to preliminary returns from a completed ballot count showed the Reform Party received 31.2% of the vote. That translates into 37 seats at Estonia’s 101-seat Parliament and an increase of three seats from the 2019 election, AP reports.

9:42 a.m.: Ukraine's Reintegration Ministry has announced the creation of the National Corpus of the Crimean Tatar language, a database of texts in Crimean Tatar for the purpose of language research, the ministry said. This online platform for language research was established four months ago. The research will be based on data from textual materials in Crimean Tatar language.

“During this time, 675 materials by more than 180 authors have been processed and included in the catalog. This is more than 50,000 printed pages (40 million characters). Among them are works by famous authors, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, scientific articles, international legal documents,” reads the announcement.

Currently, the oldest work dates back to the 13th century, and the most modern one to the 21st century (2023)

9:27 a.m.: Russian founder of the mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said his representative had been denied access to the headquarters of Russia's military command in Ukraine Monday, deepening his rift with the Russia’s defense establishment, Reuters reports.

Prigozhin said the incident came the day after he urgently requested ammunition supplies from the commander of what Russia calls its "special military operation" (SMO).

"On March 5, I wrote a letter to the commander of the SMO grouping about the urgent need to allocate ammunition. On March 6, at 8 a.m., my representative at the headquarters had his pass canceled and was denied access," Prigozhin said via his press service on Telegram.

Since mid-January, Russia's campaign in Ukraine has been commanded personally by the chief of the general staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov.

Prigozhin's private militia, Wagner, has led much of the heaviest fighting for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, but he has complained openly for weeks that the military leadership is belittling its contribution.

In a video published at the weekend, he repeated earlier complaints that his men were being deprived of ammunition.

"If Wagner retreats from Bakhmut now, the whole front will collapse," Prigozhin said in the video, apparently filmed in a bunker. "The situation will not be sweet for all military formations protecting Russian interests," he said.

8:55 a.m.: Ukrainian military brass vowed to keep defending Bakhmut even as Russian forces continue to encroach on the besieged eastern Ukrainian city. Intense Russian shelling targeted the Donetsk region city and nearby villages Monday as Moscow deployed more troops there trying to crack Bakhmut’s resistance. Local officials say civilians are fleeing the region.

Although Bakhmut does not have strategic significance, it has psychological importance. If Russian forces prevail there, Vladimir Putin, will finally deliver some good news from the battlefield. If Ukrainians succeed repelling the enemy, their display of grit and defiance will reinforce the message that Ukraine deserves continuing support among its Western allies, AP reports.

8:12 a.m.: Car sales in Russia collapsed by 62.1% year-on-year in February, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) said on Monday, as Western sanctions continued to cause problems for the industry.

According to Reuters, the AEB said 41,851 vehicles had been sold during February, compared with 110,441 vehicles in February 2022.

Russia's auto industry has been one of the hardest-hit sections of the economy following Western sanctions last year after Moscow ordered its troops into Ukraine. Car sales imploded by 58.8% last year, according to the AEB, which surveys Russian car manufacturers.

The industry had previously been heavily reliant on Western investment, joint partnerships, supply chains and parts - all of which remain significantly disrupted.

7:40 a.m.: As Ukraine is awaiting to receive more help from its Westen allies, Kyiv appointed a new top anti-corruption investigator Monday.

The European Union has made tackling corruption a priority for Kyiv as it tries to join the bloc and regards the appointment of a new director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) as paramount in that effort.

Semen Kryvonos, until now the chief of the State Inspection of Architecture and Urban Planning, will serve a seven-year term as director of NABU, one of several bodies set up in recent years to tackle corruption.

In a video statement, Kryvonos said he would create conditions for officials to "fear God, the people of Ukraine and NABU."

According to Reuters, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal chose Kryvonos from a pool of three finalists and was supported by his cabinet.

"Our team is committed to the principle of zero-tolerance to corruption and supporting anti-corruption institutions," Shmyhal said.

5:40 a.m.: Reuters reported that the Ukrainian government named a new head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) during a live-streamed cabinet meeting on Monday, part of efforts to show its determination to crack down on graft.

The new NABU chief named was Semen Kryvonos, who had been serving as head of the State Inspection of Architecture and Urban Planning. The European Union has made fighting corruption a top priority for Ukraine as it seeks membership.

5:10 a.m.: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday that the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut was of more than symbolic importance than an operational one and it would not necessarily mean that Moscow had regained the momentum in its year long war effort.

"I think it is more of a symbolic value than it is strategic and operational value," Austin told reporters while visiting Jordan, adding that he would not predict if or when Bakhmut would be taken by Russian forces.

"The fall of Bakhmut won't necessarily mean that the Russians have changed the tide of this fight," Austin added according to Reuters.

4:30 a.m.: Agence France-Presse reported that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has visited the war-battered city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine, his ministry announced Monday, one year after his forces besieged the city, levelling it to the ground.

The ministry said Shoigu, one of the highest-ranking officials to visit east Ukraine, had toured the destroyed port city to oversee reconstruction efforts.

Shoigu "inspected work carried out by the... defense ministry to restore infrastructure in Donbas," the ministry said, without specifying the timing of the visit.

Russia launched a scorched-earth campaign against Mariupol at the start of its campaign last year, destroying the Azovstal steel works, which was the last holdout of Ukraine forces in the city.

Investigative teams linked to jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny have reported that defense ministry officials are profiting personally from reconstruction efforts in Mariupol.

The ministry's announcement comes one day after it said Shoigu had met with Russian soldiers deployed to a "command post in" eastern Ukraine.

4:05 a.m.: Far from the Ukraine war's frontlines, only the whirring of generator-powered ski lifts disturbs the calm at Bukovel in the country's west, a winter resort nestled in the pine-forested Carpathian Mountains.

For Liliya, an English interpreter from Ukraine's Sumy region just 20 kilometres from the Russian border, who declined to give her surname for safety reasons, a first-time skiing holiday offered welcome if only brief respite.

"Here we try to forget about the war," she told AFP while adjusting her eight-year-old daughter's ski goggles.

"Although my mobile phone alerts me three or four times a day about sirens back home," she said wearily.

Agence France-Presse had the full report.

3:30 a.m.: Most of Ukraine's winter grain crops — winter wheat and barley — are in good condition and could produce a good harvest, Ukraine's academy of agricultural science was quoted as saying on Monday.

"The analysis of the viability of winter wheat ... showed that the vast majority of plants — 92% to 97%, depending on the predecessor and sowing date — were in relatively good condition," the APK-Inform consultancy quoted a report by the academy as saying, despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine is a traditional grower of winter wheat which accounts for around 95% of the country's overall wheat output, and key for both local consumption and exports.

"There are good reasons to make preliminary forecasts for the formation of yields that will be close to the average long-term average," the report said.

The scientists say the reserves of productive moisture in the soil under winter crops remained "quite significant and did not cause concern."

The winter wheat area sown for the 2023 harvest decreased to around 4.1 million hectares from more than 6 million sown a year earlier because of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24 last year.

Of the winter wheat sown last year, only 4.9 million hectares were harvested in Ukrainian-controlled territory, as Russian forces occupied some areas.

Ukraine's wheat harvest declined to 20.2 million tons in 2022 from 32.2 million tons in 2021. Overall grain output fell to around 54 million tons from a record 86 million in 2021.

A top agriculture ministry official told Reuters on Thursday that the 2023 wheat crop could total 16 to 18 million tons but Ukraine saw no need to limit wheat exports for the upcoming 2023/24 July-June season.

3 a.m.: More than a year after the Ukrainian military flooded his village to halt Russia's lightning march on Kyiv, Ivan Kukuruza's basement is still submerged and his patience is running out.

Authorities sacrificed his hamlet of Demydiv, 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of Kyiv, last February by blowing up a nearby dam in a bid to bog down Russia's invading army.

And while the last-ditch effort helped spare the capital a Russian takeover, the authorities' clean-up efforts have proved much less ingenious and much less speedy.

"Just lower the water levels by half. Even then, no tank could pass through here," Kukuruza, 69, told AFP.

Agence France-Presse had the full report.

2:20 a.m.: Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk dedicated her first WTA singles title to those "fighting and dying" in her home country amid Russia's ongoing invasion after she defeated Russian Varvara Gracheva 6-3 7-5 to win the inaugural Austin Open on Sunday.

Reuters reported that the 20-year-old collapsed on the court and covered her face with her hands after securing the title but declined to shake the hand of her Russian opponent at the net.

"Everyone who is in the stands and everyone who is watching, especially in Ukraine, I want to say 'Slava Ukraini,'" Kostyuk said during the trophy ceremony. The Ukrainian phrase translates to "Glory to Ukraine."

"Being in the position that I'm in right now it's extremely special to win this title. I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and all of the people who are fighting and dying right now."

1:45 a.m.:

12:35 a.m.: The Kyiv Independent tweeted that a Russian propagandist claims he came under fire in Donetsk Oblast.

12:01 a.m.: Put off by the Estonian government's hawkish stance on Russia, many Russian speakers are expected to stay away from elections on Sunday even though they oppose the war in Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.

Russian speakers, who make up a quarter of the population, are also concerned about the support of almost all the main parties for a new law for Estonian-only education in schools.

"A very big part of the Russian-speaking population of Estonia has definitely kept strong ties to Russia," said Rein Toomla, a political expert from the Johan Skytte Institute.

The results have now been called.

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.