Ukraine live briefing: Kyiv warns missile threat is high after Russia uses hypersonic weapons; Bakhmut battle ‘key’ to draining Russian resources

Ukrainian service members fire a howitzer M119 on the front line near the city of Bakhmut on March 10. (Stringer/Reuters)
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Ukraine’s military warned Friday that the threat of a Russian missile attack remains high, a day after the Kremlin launched a barrage of missiles and confirmed its use of hypersonic weapons.

What you need to know about Russia's hypersonic missiles

Ukraine’s battle for Bakhmut is “exceeding its key tasks,” including draining Russian resources ahead of a planned Ukrainian counteroffensive, said an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • The United States believes Russia is seeking to weaken Moldova’s government with the “eventual goal” of producing a pro-Moscow administration, John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, told reporters in a briefing Friday. “Russian actors, some with current ties to Russian intelligence, are seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government,” he said, but added that the United States sees “no immediate military threat to Moldova.”
  • The United States and the European Commission touted efforts to lessen Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and limit the impact of the global energy crisis in Europe. President Biden and E.C. President Ursula von der Leyen said in a joint statement Friday that they are taking new steps to “target additional third-country actors.”
  • Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Friday made a surprise visit to Kyiv, where she met with Zelensky and visited a military hospital. “It is really important to have a face-to-face discussion about the situation in Ukraine,” she said at a news conference, Euronews reported. “Ukraine needs both humanitarian and financial support, and above all, weapons and heavier armament.”
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had a “constructive” conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of a Group of 20 ministers’ meeting last week. In comments to Russian media, he added that they discussed the conflict in Ukraine and that all he heard “fits into the already well-known” U.S. position.
  • Ukrainian energy company DTEK on Friday hit a milestone in the country’s bid to remake its energy economy and become a clean-power hub in Europe, The Washington Post reports. The company said a dozen wind turbines have been built and brought online under the challenging conditions of war, just 60 miles from the front lines.

Battleground updates

  • Ukraine is “exceeding” its set goals in Bakhmut, Zelensky aide Mykhailo Podolyak said. In an interview with Italy’s La Stampa newspaper, Podlyak said Ukrainian forces have two objectives: to pin down Russian units in “wearisome battles” and to “disrupt their offensive” so Kyiv can concentrate its resources elsewhere.
  • Russia used Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, which Kyiv is unable to intercept, in Thursday’s attack, Ukraine’s military said. Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed their use. The weapons were first launched against Ukraine last March. Here’s what to know about Russia’s hypersonic missiles.
  • Russia has the resources to fight in Ukraine for two more years at “the present intensity,” said Lithuanian military intelligence chief Elegijus Paulavicius, according to Reuters. Russia’s ability to wage war will also depend on external aid from countries such as Iran or North Korea, he added.

Global impact

  • Canada is banning the import of Russian aluminum and steel products, the government announced Friday. “This ban will further deny Russia the ability to generate the revenues it needs to pay for its war against Ukraine,” the Department of Finance said in a statement. “We are ensuring [Russian President Vladimir] Putin cannot pay for his war by selling aluminum and steel in Canada,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said, adding that the action was taken in coordination with the United States.
  • Putin congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday for securing a third term. “I am confident that working together, we will ensure the further growth of fruitful Russian-Chinese cooperation,” Putin said in a message. China and Russia have maintained stable ties throughout the war, with Beijing providing rhetorical and diplomatic support to Moscow even as it says it is neutral.
  • Poland is building fortifications on its border with Belarus, according to Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak. Poland began construction of similar works on its border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad last month.

From our correspondents

Traumatic stress, an invisible wound, hobbles Ukrainian soldiers: As the war enters its second year, Ukrainian soldiers are experiencing intense symptoms of psychological stress, including nightmares, poor sleep, guilt, anxiety and panic attacks, Siobhán O’Grady and Anastacia Galouchka report from the eastern Donetsk region.

“Some soldiers have turned their weapons on themselves, dying by suicide. Others are suffering quietly in hospitals and on military bases, during visits home and on the front lines,” they write.

Amar Nadhir, Evan Halper, John Hudson and Natalia Abbakumova contributed to this report.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: At least two residential buildings in Moscow were hit by drones Tuesday morning. It is a rare attack deep inside Russian territory. Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed without providing evidence that Ukraine was behind the drone strikes. Kyiv denied involvement.

The strikes came after Russia conducted another aerial attack on Kyiv, killing at least one person and wounding at least four people. The air raid was the 17th attack in May, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

The fight: Russia took control of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, where thousands of Russian and Ukrainian soldiers died in the war’s longest and bloodiest battle, in late May. But holding the city will be difficult. The Wagner Group, responsible for the fight and victory in Bakhmut, is allegedly leaving and being replaced by the Russian army.

The upcoming counteroffensive: After a rainy few months left the ground muddy, sticky and unsuitable for heavy vehicles in southern Ukraine, temperatures are rising — and with them, the expectations of a long-awaited counteroffensive against occupying Russian forces.

The frontline: The Washington Post has mapped out the 600-mile front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the United States can support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

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