March 18 (Reuters) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, alleging Moscow’s forcible deportation of Ukrainian children is a war crime, as the Kremlin reacted with outrage.
* U.S. President Joe Biden said Putin has clearly committed war crimes and the ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for him was justified.
* The ICC move obligates the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.
* It provoked a furious reaction in Moscow, ranging from dismissal of the court’s jurisdiction to vows to protect Putin from arrest. The Kremlin said the warrant was outrageous but meaningless with respect to Russia.
* Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during the invasion, which it calls a special military operation.
* The United Nations is “doing everything possible” to ensure a deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports continues, U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Friday, a day before the pact is due to expire.
* The International Monetary Fund said its executive board approved rule changes that would allow the IMF to approve loan programmes for countries facing “exceptionally high uncertainty” – a move expected to pave the way for fresh Ukraine loans.
* Turkey’s parliament will start ratifying Finland’s accession to NATO, lifting the biggest remaining hurdle to enlarging the Western defence alliance as war rages in Ukraine, though he held off approving Sweden’s bid. The U.S. welcomed Erdogan’s announcement, encouraging Turkey to quickly ratify Sweden’s accession.
* In eastern Ukraine, Kyiv’s forces continued to withstand Russian assaults on the ruined eastern city of Bakhmut.
* A commander of Ukrainian ground forces said Russian forces were trying to break through Ukrainian defences in several directions in an attempt to fully encircle Bakhmut.
* The U.S. has resumed surveillance drone flights over the Black Sea region following a Russian fighter jet intercept on Tuesday that led to the downing of a U.S surveillance drone, two U.S. officials said.
Compiled by Reuters editors
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