March 18 (Reuters) – Russian missiles struck an airport near the western city of Lviv, where hundreds of thousands found refuge from Ukrainian battlefields as Moscow tries to regain initiative in its stalled campaign. Read full story
U.S. President Joe Biden is due to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping at 1300 GMT, seeking to isolate Moscow from the one big power that has yet to condemn its invasion of Ukraine. Read full story
* Kyiv administration said 222 people were killed in the capital since the start of the war, including 60 civilians and four children.
* Ukrainian human rights ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said 130 people had been rescued so far from the rubble of a theatre hit by an air strike on Wednesday in Mariupol. More than 350,000 people are sheltering in the besieged city, officials said.
* Border crossings from Ukraine have slowed in recent days but could pick up again if conditions in Lviv worsened, U.N refugee agency said. It had reported 780 confirmed civilian deaths and 3.2 million refugees since the invasion started.
* Ukraine’s food supply chains were collapsing and the conflict was creating a wave of “collateral hunger” across the world, World Food Programme said. Read full story
* “Russian forces have made minimal progress this week,” Britain said in a daily intelligence update.
Ukrainian forces continue to push back Russian attempts to surround Kyiv and Mykolaiv, it said, while heavy shelling of encircled cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol continued.
* Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for a ceasefire in Ukraine and intensified diplomatic efforts during a phone call with President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
* The Kremlin said Putin told Scholz Ukraine was trying to stall the negotiations with “unrealistic proposals.” Read full story
* Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland will formally ask for an U.N. peacekeeping mission in Ukraine at the next NATO summit.
ECONOMY, MARKETS AND SANCTIONS
* The International Energy Agency urged consumers to travel less, carpool and drive more slowly, as part of a 10-point plan to cut oil. Read full story
* With coupon payments to some bondholders Russia may for now have averted a debt default. Read full story
* Ukraine’s foreign minister said he had discussed a new round of sanctions against Russia with EU’s foreign policy chief.
* Britain’s media regulator revoked the broadcasting licence of Moscow-backed TV channel RT. Read full story
* “The tragedy of the war taking place in the heart of Europe has left us stunned,” Pope Francis said in a message to a Catholic Church conference in Slovakia.
“Once more humanity is threatened by a perverse abuse of power and partisan interests which condemns defenceless people to suffer every form of brutal violence.” Read full story
(Compiled by Tomasz Janowski)