March 17 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal, prompting the Kremlin to say the comment was “unforgivable” as the war in Ukraine raged for a 21st day despite talk of compromise in peace negotiations. Read full story
* U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with Nikolay Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, in the first high-level contact publicly disclosed between the two countries since the invasion. Read full story
* President Putin said Russia was ready to discuss Ukraine’s neutral status but that Moscow would still achieve the goals of its military operation.
* The U.N. Security Council is due to vote on Friday on a Russian-drafted call for aid access and civilian protection, but diplomats say the measure is set to fail because it does not push for an end to the fighting or withdrawal of Russian troops.
* The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv said Russian forces had shot and killed 10 people waiting in line for bread in Chernihiv. Russia said the report was a hoax.
*Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Russian forces bombed a theatre in Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were sheltering. A Ukrainian official said Russian forces fired heavy artillery at an evacuation convoy from the city.
* Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the reports. Russia denies targeting civilians.
* Ukraine handed over nine captured Russian soldiers to secure the freedom of the mayor of the city of Melitopol, who was detained last week, the Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted a senior official as saying.
* Three Panamanian-flagged ships have been hit by Russian missiles in the Black Sea since Russia’s invasion, Panama’s Maritime Authority said. One ship sank, but there were no casualties reported. The two others remain afloat with damage.
* More than 3 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries but the United States has only admitted several hundred Ukrainian refugees. Critics question why the United States hasn’t taken more. Read full story
*Facebook removed official Russian posts that falsely claimed reports of Russia bombing a children’s hospital were a hoax, a company spokesperson said. Read full story
* Russia’s government is teetering on the brink of its first international debt default since the Bolshevik revolution. Read full story
* Auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams have cancelled sales of Russian art in London in June.
* “The question of principle for our country and its future – the neutral status of Ukraine, its demilitarisation, and its denazification – we were ready and we are ready to discuss as part of negotiations,” Putin said in a televised speech.
* “Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people,” Zelenskiy told the U.S. Congress.
(Compiled by Cynthia Osterman and Michael Perry; Editing by Stephen Coates)