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Turkey will start ratifying Finland’s NATO application; International court issues arrest warrant for Putin for alleged war crimes

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine on March 17, 2023. See here for the latest updates. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Russia early next week, China's Foreign Ministry announced, in a trip that would be the leader's first trip to Russia since President Vladimir Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

In a major shift, Poland announced it will be sending four of its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, something that Kyiv has been pleading for since the war began. It will be the first delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine from any NATO ally. Slovakia followed suit one day later, pledging to send 13 of its MiG jets to Ukraine, though they are not all said to be currently operational.

One stupid step in Ukraine could result in a larger conflict, says fmr. Defense Sec. Leon Panetta
VIDEO4:1804:18
One stupid step in Ukraine could result in a larger conflict, says fmr. Defense Sec. Leon Panetta

Meanwhile, the battle for Bakhmut rages on, as Russian and Wagner Group forces manage to gain ground west of the Bakhmutka river. The negotiating parties involved in the Black Sea grain deal continue to push for an longer extension of the deal, but the Kremlin says it will only extend it for 60 days.

Five ships leaves Ukraine under Black Sea Grain Initiative

A ship carrying wheat from Ukraine to Afghanistan after inspection in the open sea around Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, Turkiye on January 24, 2023.
TUR Ministry of National Defence | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Five ships carrying 210,032 metric tons of agricultural products left Ukraine's ports of Yuzhny-Pivdennyi, Chornomorsk and Odesa.

Two ships are destined for China and are carrying sunflower meal and corn. Two more ships are headed to Libya and are carrying sunflower meal and corn. The fifth ship is destined for Portugal and is carrying corn.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, eased Russia's naval blockade and saw three key Ukrainian ports reopen.

So far, more than 700 ships have sailed from Ukrainian ports.

— Amanda Macias

Zelenskyy thanks Slovakia for vowing to provide Kyiv with fighter jets

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy visits the city of Kherson for the first time after the withdrawal of Russian troops in Ukraine, on Nov. 13, 2022.
Narciso Contreras | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Slovakia's Prime Minister Eduard Heger for his decision to supply Kyiv with MiG-29 fighter jets.

Zelenskyy described the latest security assistance from Slovakia as "powerful."

"I appreciate his personal role in supporting Ukraine. I look forward to continuing our dialogue in Kyiv," Zelenskyy added.

— Amanda Macias

WHO records more than 850 attacks on vital health services in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion

Relatives gather in a hospital around three men injured in a missile strike in Mykolaiv, on Aug. 18, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Bulent Kilic | Afp | Getty Images

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February of last year, there have been at least 859 attacks on vital health services in the country, the World Health Organization's Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care estimates.

The organization reports that healthcare facilities were damaged 766 times, ambulances were targeted in 104 cases and at least 215 attacks affected crucial medical supplies. The group also estimated that attacks on health services led to at least 101 deaths and 136 injuries.

The Kremlin has previously denied that it targets civilian infrastructure like hospitals, schools and apartment buildings.

— Amanda Macias

Zelenskyy calls ICC decision to issue arrest warrant for Putin 'historic'

Vladimir Putin arrest warrant seen in press release from the International Criminal Court in The Hague. On 17 March 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. 
Jonathan Raa | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the International Crime Court's decision to issue arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin as "historic."

"The head of the terrorist state and another Russian official have officially become suspects in a war crime. The deportation of Ukrainian children is the illegal transfer of thousands of our children to Russian territory," Zelenskyy wrote on his official Telegram channel.

"Separating children from their families, depriving them of any opportunity to contact their relatives, hiding children on Russian territory, scattering them in remote regions - all this is obviously Russian state policy, state decisions, state evil," Zelenskyy said, according to an NBC News translation.

Zelenskyy also thanked the ICC's prosecutor Karim Khan for his work in investigating Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

White House says there is 'no doubt' that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine

John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, answers questions during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2023. 
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told NBC News that there is "no doubt" that Russia is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

"President Biden has been very clear, since the beginning of this war, that we're going to look for ways to make sure that Russia is held accountable for the war crimes for the atrocities that they are perpetrating against the Ukrainian people," Kirby told Kristen Welker of NBC News.

Kirby's comments come on the heels of the International Criminal Court's decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes committed during his invasion of Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

White House welcomes Turkey's decision to bring Finland into NATO alliance

Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022.
Ken Cedeno | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The White House welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision to approve Finland's membership in the NATO alliance.

"We encourage Turkey to quickly ratify Sweden's accession protocols as well," national security advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

Sullivan added that NATO ally Hungary should also work to conclude "its ratification process for both Finland and Sweden without delay."

"Sweden and Finland are both strong, capable partners that share NATO's values and will strengthen the Alliance and contribute to European security. The United States believes that both countries should become members of NATO as soon as possible," Sullivan said.

In May, Sweden and Finland began the formal process of applying to NATO. All 30 members of the alliance have to ratify the countries' entry into the group. In August, U.S. President Joe Biden signed ratification documents following a 95-1 Senate vote to bring Finland and Sweden into NATO.

— Amanda Macias

White House welcomes Poland and Slovakia's decision to equip Ukraine with Mig-29 jets

John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, answers questions during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2023. 
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

The White House welcomed the recent decision by Poland and Slovakia to provide Ukraine with MiG-29 fighter jets.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the move to send the fighter jets did not "have any impact or effect on our own sovereign decision-making when it comes to F-16s."

He added that the White House was aware that Warsaw and Bratislava were considering this security assistance decision.

— Amanda Macias

International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged Ukraine war crimes

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) to promote new projects in Moscow, Russia February 9, 2023. 
Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | Reuters

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Putin over alleged war crimes committed during his invasion of Ukraine.

The world's highest court also issued a warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's commissioner for children's rights.

The court wrote in a statement that Putin and Lvova-Belova are "allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation" of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.

The Kremlin has previously denied that its forces commit war crimes or deliberately targeted civilians. The Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Read the full story here.

— Amanda Macias

State Department approves $150 million Hellfire missile sale to Poland

A Hellfire missile resting in the weapons bay of a US Air Force Predator drone aircraft.
David Bathgate | Corbis Historical | Getty Images

The State Department approved a foreign military sale to Poland for Hellfire Missiles as allies look to restock their arsenals amid Russia's war in Ukraine.

The Lockheed Martin-made AGM-114R2 Hellfire missiles and related equipment will cost an estimated $150 million.

"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a NATO ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe," the State Department wrote in a statement announcing the sale.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian workers prepare ballistic plates for bulletproof vests at a factory in Kharkiv 

Ukrainian workers prepare ballistic plates for bulletproof vests at a factory in Kharkiv.