- Chinese President Xi Jinping tells Joe Biden that “all sides” must support Russia-Ukraine “dialogue”.
- Biden did not offer incentives to Xi in video call between two leaders, White House says.
- Ukraine says more than 9,100 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Friday.
- More than half of those evacuated – 4,972 people – left the besieged city of Mariupol.
- Russia slams Council of Europe as a “Russophobic” tool of the West.
- UN says 6.5 million people have been internally displaced due to the war.
Here are the latest updates:
Ukraine says it will take years to defuse unexploded bombs
It will take years for Ukraine to defuse unexploded bombs after the Russian invasion, the country’s interior minister has said.
Speaking to The Associated Press in the besieged Ukrainian capital, Denys Monastyrsky said that the country will need Western assistance to cope with the massive task once the war is over.
“A huge number of shells and mines have been fired at Ukraine and a large part have not exploded, they remain under the rubble and pose a real threat,” Monastyrsky said. “It will take years, not months, to defuse them.”
Biden did not offer incentives to Xi: White House
Asked whether Biden offered Xi incentives to get China on board with the US effort to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the White House’s Psaki said: “This was not about carrots.”
“This was about laying out what the implications and consequences would be” if Beijing aids Moscow in the war, Psaki told reporters.
Ukrainian specialists repair power line to nuclear power plant: Interfax
Ukrainian specialists have repaired one of the damaged power lines to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, the Interfax Ukraine agency quoted the national energy company as saying.
Three of the five power lines were damaged or disconnected after Russian troops took over the plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, on March 4.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) earlier said Ukraine had told it the line should be working early next week.
White House declines to share details on China ‘consequences’
The White House has declined to share details about the “implications and consequences” that it said Biden warned Xi of if China comes to Russia’s aid in Ukraine.
“We feel it’s the most constructive way to engage and have a constructive dialogue,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about the US’s unwillingness to reveal more specifics from the call.
More than 9,100 people evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Friday: Ukrainian official
A total of 9,145 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Friday, a senior official has said, a number that is considerably more than managed to escape a day earlier.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said in an online post that 4,972 people had left the besieged city of Mariupol.
A total of 3,810 people were able to leave cities across the country on Thursday.
Russia slams Council of Europe as ‘Russophobic’
A spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry has accused the Council of Europe, which expelled Moscow from its ranks earlier this week, of being a “Russophobic” instrument serving Western interests.
“Due to the Westerners’ Russophobic activity”, the Council of Europe is losing its reason for being, Maria Zakharova said in a statement.
“By placing the service of the bloc’s interests above its own statutory objectives, the Council of Europe has been turned into an obedient instrument of the European Union, NATO and their satellites,” she added.
‘We can not cope’: Poland struggles to meet Ukraine refugees’ needs
In four weeks of war, millions of people have left war-ravaged Ukraine, with the majority crossing into Poland.
As each day passes, thousands more people arrive by train, seeking shelter in the main Polish cities of Warsaw, Krakow and Wroclaw.
But while Poland’s government and civil society groups have welcomed the newcomers with open arms, space is quickly running out. Read more here.
Russia reaches deal with Belarus to provide critical foodstuffs: Report
Russia has reached a deal with Belarus to supply critical foodstuffs if necessary, including durum wheat and vegetable oil, as part of a push to offset Western sanctions, the official Belarus Belta news agency said.
The two neighbors are also close to an agreement on pricing for energy, Belta added, without providing additional details.
The two nations had agreed on March 11 to take joint steps for mutual support, including on energy prices.
Is Russia’s war stalled in Ukraine?
The war in Ukraine, which Russia hoped would be over within days, is now into its fourth week.
Despite battleground setbacks, Russian President Vladimir Putin shows little sign of relenting.
What is the Kremlin’s military strategy and can its objectives be achieved?
Biden warns Xi of ‘consequences’ should China back Russia
US President Joe Biden has warned Chinese President Xi Jinping of “implications and consequences” should Beijing provide material support to Moscow in the war in Ukraine, the White House said.
The two leaders spoke in a video call amid US concerns that China may come to Russia’s aid – either by giving military equipment or bypassing Western sanctions – in its increasingly brutal offensive in Ukraine.
State broadcaster CCTV reported that Xi said during the call that “state-to-state relations can not go to the stage of military hostilities”. Read more on the Biden-Xi talks here.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Read all the updates from Friday, March 18 here.