March 21, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sana Noor Haq, Aditi Sangal, Alisha Ebrahimji, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:05 a.m. ET, March 22, 2023
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3:12 p.m. ET, March 21, 2023

US will send older Abrams tanks to Ukraine which should speed up delivery, Pentagon spokesperson says

From CNN's Haley Britzky

The US has changed course and is now providing Ukraine with 31 M1-A1 Abrams tanks instead of the newer M1-A2 variants previously planned, Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said Tuesday.

“[A]fter further study and analysis on how best to do this, DoD in close coordination with Ukraine has made the decision to provide the M1-A1 variant of the Abrams tank, which will enable us to submit significantly expedite delivery timelines and deliver this important capability to Ukraine by the fall of this year,” Ryder said at a press conference. 

He added that the US would also be providing Ukraine with “advances armor and weapons systems” that are “very similar capability” to the M1-A2, including a .50-caliber heavy machine gun and 120 mm cannon.

2:43 p.m. ET, March 21, 2023

UK pushes back against Putin's claim that ammunition with depleted uranium equates to nuclear weapons

From CNN's Jessie Gretener and Darya Tarasova

The UK Ministry of Defense said Russia is “deliberately trying to disinform” after President Vladimir Putin warned the UK against providing Ukraine with ammunition that contains depleted uranium.

Baroness Annabel Goldie, the UK Minister of State at the Ministry of Defense, announced the aid in a statement Monday.

“I would like to note that if all this happens, Russia will have to react accordingly," Putin said during a news conference Tuesday alongside his Chinese counterpart. "I mean that the collective West is already starting to use weapons with a nuclear component,” referencing that the shells have depleted uranium.

In response, a UK MOD spokesperson said, “the British Army has used depleted uranium in its armour-piercing shells for decades. It is a standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities. Russia knows this, but is deliberately trying to disinform.”

“Independent research by scientists from groups such as the Royal Society has assessed that any impact to personal health and the environment from the use of depleted uranium munitions is likely to be low,” the spokesperson stated.

2:03 p.m. ET, March 21, 2023

Putin and Xi arrive for state dinner 

From CNN's Chris Liakos an Darya Tarasova

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrived at the state dinner in Moscow Tuesday, following the second day of talks between the two leaders.

“Russia-Chinese relations are at the highest point ever,” Putin said in an opening speech at the state dinner.

He added that the cooperation between the two counties has “limitless possibilities and prospects.”

Putin ended his speech by toasting to the “health” of Xi and the Chinese delegation, the “deepening of the Russian-Chinese partnership and strategic cooperation” and “the prosperity of the Russian and Chinese people.”

12:32 p.m. ET, March 21, 2023

Xi and Putin call for end to actions that “increase tensions” and prolong war in Ukraine

From CNN's Wayne Chang

Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi Jinping arrive for a signing ceremony following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi Jinping arrive for a signing ceremony following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21. (Grigory Sysoyev/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are calling for an end to actions that “increase tensions” and prolong the war in Ukraine, according to a readout released by Chinese state media People’s Daily of the two leaders meeting in Moscow Tuesday.

According to the readout, Russia spoke positively about China’s “objective and fair” stance on Ukraine and both sides opposed any country or group of countries harming the “legitimate security interests of other countries in pursuit of military, political or other advantages.”

Russia reiterated its commitment to resuming peace talks as soon as possible, which China appreciated, according to People’s Daily. Russia also welcomed China playing an “active role” in finding a solution to the conflict in Ukraine through political and diplomatic means, including some of the measures China proposed in its 12-point peace plan.

Both leaders said that the “legitimate security concerns of all countries” must be respected when it comes to how to end the war and attempts that “add fuel to fire” as well as “confrontation between blocs” must be prevented, the readout said.

Both sides also opposed any unilateral sanctions unauthorized by the United Nations Security Council. 

12:30 p.m. ET, March 21, 2023

Xi says he has built a "close relationship" with Putin over the past decade

From CNN's Xiaofei Xu in Paris and Wayne Chang in Hong Kong

Chinese President Xi Jinping said he has built a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past 10 years.

"I reviewed the results of relations between our two countries in the past 10 years with President Putin. We agreed that the relations between our two nations go way beyond ourselves. They are crucial to the world order and all mankind's future and destiny," Xi said during remarks in Moscow on Tuesday following the signing of a joint declaration of cooperation.

"Since last year, the Sino-Russian comprehensive pragmatic cooperation has achieved great results. It continues to show that this cooperation has a solid base, is very complimentary and very tough," Xi continued, adding that trade volume between the two countries increased by 116% compared to a decade ago.

12:27 p.m. ET, March 21, 2023

"China's peace plan can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine," Putin says

From CNN's Chris Liakos

China’s proposal for a peace plan in Ukraine, “can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine, when the West and in Kyiv are ready for it,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

"We believe in many of the points on the peace plan put forward by China,” he added.

Putin said he also discussed sanctions with his Chinese counterpart.

“When we discussed international problems, we stated that Russia and China’s views are converging and very close on a number of them,” Putin said. “Tension in a number of regions in the world is increasing, the conflict and crisis potential is growing, the practice of using illegitimate politically motivated sanctions and other restrictions is expanding.”

“China and Russia are against any states violating the interest of other countries for the sake of military, political or economic benefit,” Putin said.

12:14 p.m. ET, March 21, 2023

Putin says he is "in constant contact" with Xi Jinping

From CNN's Chris Liakos

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that he is “in constant contact" with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

This “enables us to find any solutions even in the most difficult situation to all problems,” Putin said, calling China a “stable trade partner.”

China is the “leading destination for import of Russian oil,” he added.

Putin also said cooperation with China in nuclear energy is increasing.

12:08 p.m. ET, March 21, 2023

Putin calls Xi Jinping a "friend" and describes all discussions in Moscow meetings as "successful" 

From CNN's Chris Liakos

Russian President Vladimir Putin kicked off his speech to reporters following two days of meetings with his Chinese counterpart by calling Xi Jinping a “friend.”

“All our talks today, and yesterday in one-to-one format, and with delegations, were successful and took place in friendly atmosphere,” Putin said. 

The two leaders moments earlier signed a joint declaration on deepening partnership.

“The two key statements we have just signed fully reflect the nature of Russian-Chinese relations, which are at their highest level of development and are an exemplary of a true comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation. Russia and China are bound by strong ties of good neighborhood, mutual assistance and support between our nations. We maintain an active bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Putin said.

12:05 p.m. ET, March 21, 2023

Putin and Xi sign joint declaration on deepening partnership

From CNN's Xiaofei Xu and Wayne Chang

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have signed a joint declaration "on key aspects of the Sino-Russian economic cooperation plan by 2030," according to Chinese state media on Tuesday.

The two leaders took part in the document signing ceremony in the Malachite Hall at the Grand Kremlin Palace

The leaders emphasized that the Ukrainian crisis should be solved through peace talks, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.