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UKRAINE CRISIS HORIZON (31 May – 12 June 2022)

RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR UPDATES

31 May – 12 June 2022

  • Russian main effort of its offensive is still on the East Axis in Donbas currently aiming the control of Severodonetsk.
  • On other axes in North-east and South, Russian forces are trying to hold their frontlines against Ukrainian troops, while spreading disinformation and issuing passports in the occupied territories.
  • The deployment of Harpoon anti-ship missiles delivered by Denmark boosts Ukraine’s Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD) capabilities significantly in the Black Sea.
  • The total number of Ukrainian refugees recorded across Europe has increased to 4.9 million.

Military Situation

 Russian offensive is continuing in the East Axis (Donbas) as its main effort. The course of the entire war is dependent upon the developments in this region. The battle in and around Severodonetsk will be decisive for the Donbas sector.

On the Northeast (Kharkiv) Axis, Russian forces continued to keep and advance their positions on the north-eastern part of Kharkiv and made some gains on the southeast of Izyum. Their efforts will likely continue to advance on Slovyansk from the northwest.

On the Southern Axis, Moscow’s concentration of efforts in Severodonetsk has created favourable conditions for Ukrainian counterattacks in this segment of the theatre. If sporadic indirect fires are discounted in several areas including Mykolaiv, Russian forces have shown no consequential military action. But they continue their disinformation campaign in the invaded areas. Russian units delivered Russian passports to Ukrainians in Melitopol and Kherson as the first steps of subsequent annexation.

In April, the Ukrainians launched a remarkable campaign against Russian forces in the Black Sea, costing Russia 5 naval vessels and many air defence systems on the Snake Island. However, Russia reinforced the Snake Island securely, so Ukraine lost its momentum and a chance to recapture the Island.

Ukraine deployed Harpoon anti-ship missiles delivered by Denmark. Since the sinking of Moskva, anti-ship missiles have posed a serious risk to the Russian Navy. Though we do not know the exact number of Neptune missiles, after the delivery of Harpoons, Ukraine will not hesitate to fire a missile due to the fear of running out of its stocks. As a result, this boosts Ukraine’s Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD) capabilities significantly.

Social and economic situation

There is a growing debate about penetrating Russia’s blockade, especially its impacts on Ukrainian grain transportation. Besides, Russia is allegedly transporting Ukraine’s grain with bulk carriers whose Automatic Identification System transponders went dark.

Russia will highly likely allow grain export at the end of the day however she will also push western countries to relief from sanctions in return for food export guarantees. If Russia will not allow export, it will be criticized severely by the African and Middle East countries.

The total number of individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe has increased up to 4.9 million. And 3,2 million of them have been registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe.

War Update (25 April – 8 May 2022)

25 April – 8 May 2022

    • Russian Armed Forces pursue its offensive, concentrating its mass of forces in Eastern Ukraine with the objective of seizing full territorial control of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
    • The Ukrainian military resistance in Azovstal Steel Plant continues, coming closer to end. Although Mariupol lost its significance from the military perspective, it still has a symbolic importance for both sides.
    • Ukrainian troops carried out successful counter attacks during the last week pushing back Russian forces in the Kharkiv. It will likely force them to redeploy to Kharkiv instead of reinforcing other directions in eastern Ukraine.
    • In a 2,5 month-period, the number of displaced people from Ukraine increased up to 5,9 million seeking refuge in neighbouring states.

    Military Situation

    Russian Armed Forces pursue its second phase of offensive, concentrating its mass of forces in Eastern Ukraine with the objective of seizing full territorial control of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

    On the East (Donbas) axis (main effort), Russian troops concentrate their efforts for a breakthrough in and around Izyum, Severidontesk and Popasna triangle. Progress in all other fronts is heavily dependent on the situation in Donbas.

    On the North-East (Kharkiv) Axis, Ukrainian troops carried out successful counter attacks during the last week pushing back Russian forces.  This situation forces Russian troops likely to redeploy to Kharkiv instead of reinforcing other directions in eastern Ukraine in order to prevent the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive from pushing closer to the Ukraine-Russia border. Russian troops near Izyum focus still on continuing advances to the southwest and southeast of Izyum aiming for encircling Ukrainian troops on the Eastern frontline.

    On the South (Crimea) axis (supporting effort), the Ukrainian military resistance in Azovstal Steel Plant continues, coming closer to end. From military perspective, Mariupol lost its significance for both sides. The Russian military will likely increase pitch of assaults onto the plant with support of air forces to terminate operations here and pass to the next phase in integrating the coastal city to its operations as a forward base.  

    Russian forces already engaged in fixing Ukrainian forces in Kherson and Mykolaiv will likely continue their attacks in low intensity. The bulk of forces in Mariupol, as predicted on the previous assessment, after a small contingent is left to maintain control of the city, has been transferred to Donbas region to support operations.

    A worrisome new trend is formation of free republics in the South as was made after invasion of Crimea in 2014. This way Russia will recognize the independence of these entities followed by their annexation. It will also raise new recruits from these regions to fight their own nation. Kherson region witnesses this kind of Russian tactics nowadays. Russia tries to chain Kherson and Mariupol alongside Luhansk and Donetsk to the Russian mainland.

    In the last week, the Ukrainians have launched a remarkable campaign against Russian forces in the Black Sea, costing Russia 5 naval vessels and many air defence systems on the Snake Island. The Russian Navy lacked sufficient air defence for its warships in the region after the sinking of Moskva, which was equipped with S-300F surface-to-air missiles onboard. Without this coverage, the reinforcements to the Snake Island were destroyed by Ukraine using TB-2 Turkish drones.

    Russian S400 batteries with 40N6 missiles (400 km) in Crimea are expected to cover its assets near Snake Island. Yet, the system probably lacks Over-the-Horizon targeting capabilities. One possibility could be sending its frigates to carry out targeting in the region, but after the loss of Moskva, Russia cannot risk losing another warship. In this context, the possibility of Ukraine recapturing the Snake Island in the coming weeks has risen, should Russia find a secure way to dispatch additional troops and military systems.

    Political Situation

    Two and a half months passed since the beginning of Russian aggression to Ukraine. Despite some cracks (Hungary, Germany), West is largely united against Russia.

    In this compromise, the EU seems to favour a return to the status quo, whereas the Anglo-Saxon front aims to down Russia to prevent another aggression and opt to focus totally on China.

    Post-war world order will be more likely to change significantly as the states as well as international organisations documenting Russian war crimes.

    Social and economic situation

    Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing more than 5,9 million Ukrainians seek refuge in neighbouring states, most of them headed to the EU member states

War Update (19-24 April 2022)

19-24 April 2022

    • As the Russian forces started the second phase of the offensive, it has been concentrating its mass of forces in Eastern Ukraine with the objective of seizing full territorial control of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
    • Since Russia didn’t have an operational pause to concentrate overwhelming power and its forces suffered a lot of casualties, it is unlikely that it can launch a large-scale offensive in the next 1-2 weeks.
    • The US and some other NATO Allies shifted their policy of not providing heavy weaponry to Ukraine. Germany, however, continues to be an outlier in joint efforts.
    • In a 2 month period, the number of displaced people from Ukraine increased up to 5,2 million seeking refuge in neighbouring states.

     Military Situation

    As the Russian forces started the second phase of the offensive, it has been concentrating its mass of forces in Eastern Ukraine with the objective of seizing full territorial control of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Since Russia didn’t have an operational pause to concentrate overwhelming power and its forces suffered a lot of casualties, it is unlikely that it can launch a large-scale offensive in the coming weeks.

    On the East (Donbas) axis (main effort), a major offensive likely to follow shelling and missile attacks. All the significant clashes are happening in and around Donbas. Pincer movement aiming to encircle Severidonetsk salient poses the most dangerous Russian course of action.

    On the North-East (Kharkiv) axis (supporting effort), while Russian forces is partially blocking the city of Kharkiv and intensively shelling its residential areas, it is trying to reinforce its offensive from Izyum to the south likely aiming to encircle the Eastern Ukrainian troops.

    On the South (Crimea) axis (supporting effort), Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol comes close to an end. There are estimated to exist around 100 thousand Ukrainians trapped in the war zone. The Ukrainian military resistance in Azovstal Steel Plant continues. The Russian military will likely wait for the Ukrainian troops to surrender.

    Russian forces already engaged in fixing Ukrainian forces in Kherson and Mykolaiv will likely continue their attacks in low intensity. But the bulk of forces in Mariupol will, after a small contingent is left to maintain control of the city, likely be transferred to the Donbas region to complete the encirclement of Ukrainian troops from the south.

    A worrisome new trend is the formation of free republics in the South as was made after the invasion of Crimea in 2014. This way Russia will recognize the independence of these entities followed by their annexation. It can also raise new recruits from these regions to fight their own nation.

    Political Situation

    The US and some of other NATO Allies shifted their policy of not providing heavy weaponry to Ukraine. Germany, however, continues to be an outlier in joint efforts, refusing to provide tanks, as it stopped a quick ban on Russian fossil energy. Germany’s stance hinders a true European unity.

    The US and other nations had been asking Turkey to use its leverage over Moscow in Syria and increase the pressure on Putin and this development shows that they succeed partially.

    Social and economic situation

    Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing more than 5,2 million Ukrainians seek refuge in neighbouring states, most of them headed to the EU member states.

War Update (11-18 April 2022)

11-18 April 2022

  • In its second phase, Russian offensive continues with its main effort on the Eastern (Donbas) Axis and supporting efforts on North-East (Kharkiv) axis and South (Crimea) axis.
  • As the Russian forces started second phase of offensive, concentrating its mass of forces in Eastern Ukraine with the objective of seizing full territorial control of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol comes close to end.
  • The sinking of Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, is a serious blow to Putin and the Russian Navy in particular.
  • The number of displaced people from Ukraine increased up to 5 million.

Military Situation

In its second phase, Russian offensive continues with its main effort on the Eastern (Donbas) Axis and supporting efforts on North-East (Kharkiv) axis and South (Crimea) axis.

Russian forces removed from Kyiv and returning to fight in Donbas have been patched up and filled up at best, and the Russian military has few, if any, coherent formations not already sent to Ukraine to feed into new operations.

On the North-East (Kharkiv) Axis, Russian forces are reinforcing the Izyum offensive while partially blocking the city of Kharkiv and bombarding the residential areas. Russian troops are likely to enforce its offensive in the Izyum-Slovyansk and Izyum-Barvinkove directions.

As the Russian forces started the second phase of the offensive, concentrating its mass of forces in Eastern Ukraine with the objective of seizing full territorial control of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol comes close to end.  Russian forces already engaged in fixing Ukrainian forces in Kherson and Mykolaiv will likely continue their attacks in low intensity. But the bulk of forces in Mariupol will, after a small contingent is left to maintain control of the city, will be transferred to the Donbas region to complete the encirclement of Ukrainian troops from the south.

Russian offensive in the Donbas region aims to encircle Ukrainian Forces defending the Severodonetsk salient. However poor tactical performance exacerbated by heavy personnel and equipment losses made most Russian Forces combat ineffective and a breakthrough in this region with conventional means is highly unlikely for the Russians.

The sinking of Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, is a serious blow to Putin and the Russian Navy in particular. Moscow claimed that it was due to an explosion caused by a fire spread to the magazines. After the images and videos have surfaced recently, we concur that a missile indeed struck the ship. Ammunitions in warships are well protected with strict compartmentalisation and special fire control systems. Hence, it is a remote possibility for a fire to inflict this type of damage. Yet, the Russian Black Sea Fleet lost its flagship, which had a significant role in air defence. There are sister ships having the same capabilities, but they cannot enter the Black Sea due to the restrictions imposed by Turkey, citing Montreux Convention.

This incident has several meanings. First, the warship had technological flows causing the ship to fail detection of the missiles. Or, the crew could be exhausted, lose their morale, or lack sufficient training. Second, the Russian intelligence failed to detect that Ukraine had readied their anti-ship missiles. Third, Moskva’s operating near Ukrainian coasts had no military value for the war. This may show that the Russian navy has significant problems regarding military planning and operations aside from its technological capacity.

Last but not least, warships have profound meanings for nations. The sinking of Moskva should have shocked the Russian elites and public, for which Putin will strive for retaliation.

Political Situation

As the war prolonged, European unity and strong political will against Russian aggression started to wane. While the Austrian PM made a secretive and uncoordinated visit to Moscow, distancing Austria from the other Member States, Germany’s zeitenwende did produce little, if any, concrete results from the outset. Germany is still hesitant to provide weaponry Ukraine needs desperately, applies the brakes on a complete ban on energy trade (oil & gas) with Russia and continues to prioritise economy over security.

Meanwhile, Russian aggression pushed Sweden and Finland unprecedently closer to NATO. Both countries will likely be NATO Allies sooner than later.

The ongoing energy trade with Russia, aggravated by the hiking prices, funds the infamous war. The EU paradoxically funds both sides of the war, Ukraine with direct transactions, aid & support and Russia with enormous energy bills.

While an imminent ban on gas trade seems less and less likely than before, both the EU, including Germany and Russia launched initiatives to decouple energy trade in the short term. It’s not if, but when. Russia is searching for ways to divert its energy infrastructure to supply East and South Asia while the EU pledges to diversify its energy sources. So, whoever revokes its dependency on the other first will probably make a complete decoupling.

Social and economic situation

Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing more than 5 million Ukrainians to seek refuge in neighbouring states, most of them headed to the EU member states.

The longing war exacerbates the already worse economic and humanitarian situation in the Global South and the failed countries such as Sudan & Yemen.

War Update (07-10 April 2022)

07-10 April 2022

  • Russian Army seems to continue reinforcing its troops in Izyum and likely preparing for an offensive to advance in the direction of Slоvyansk and Barvinkove to link up with its troops in Luhansk Oblast.
  • A renewed offensive campaign is launched by Russian Forces in order to break through the Ukrainian defences in the east and encircle Ukrainian Forces defending in Severidonetsk salient.
  • Russian forces are likely to continue to face severe morale, recruiting, and retention issues, all of which jeopardize the country’s capacity to fight successfully.
  • The number of displaced people from Ukraine increased up to 4,5 million.

 Military Situation

On the Kyiv axis, the Russian Army withdrew almost all its forces back to Belarus and Russia. It seems that in the coming weeks, the Russian forces are likely to continue to face severe morale, recruiting, and retention issues, all of which jeopardize the country’s capacity to fight successfully.

On the North-East (Kharkiv) axis, as reported by the Ukrainian General Staff, two battalion tactical groups of the Russian Army have been redeployed from the Belgorod region to the area of Shevchenkove. Satellite imagery also shows that hundreds of Russian vehicles in Kharkiv Oblast redeploying to support Russian operations near Izyum. Russian Army seems to continue reinforcing its troops in Izyum and likely preparing for an offensive to advance in the direction of Slоvyansk and Barvinkove to link up with its troops in Luhansk Oblast.

On the East (Donbas) Axis, a renewed offensive campaign is launched by Russian Forces in order to break through the Ukrainian defences in the east and encircle Ukrainian Forces defending in Severidonetsk salient. Ukrainian Forces have successfully repelled Russian attacks so far. But the result will likely be decisive.

On the South (Crimea) Axis, as the Russian control over Kherson loosens, its forces continue to sporadically target critical infrastructure and high-value targets in Mykolaiv and Odesa, and keep Mariupol under tight control. Russian forces and paramilitaries will likely continue fighting in Mariupol to seize full control in the coming days at all costs. The withdrawal of Russian units from around Kyiv and intel reports indicating Putin’s new war strategy will centre on Donbas regions means redeployment of its troops in Mariupol to Donbas to complete the encirclement of Ukrainian troops from the south.

Political Situation

As expected, the EU banned coal import from Russia, though allowing a transition period till August 2022. Meanwhile, Germany is continuing to decouple from Russian fossil energy, including the gas “very soon”, if Russia would not be the first to decouple.

During the Russia-Ukraine War, demarcation lines become crystal clear also within Europe. Russian aggression pushed longstanding sceptics Finland and Sweden to NATO whereas Serbia positioned itself against. The latter is buying Chinese air defence systems in reminiscent of NATO’s air campaign back in 1994. The political situation in Balkans is very fragile which would end up as the first military spillover of the Russia-Ukraine War.

Whether intentionally or not, China’s actions are getting more and more aligned with those of Russia. 

Social and economic situation

Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing more than 4,5 million Ukrainians seek refuge in neighbouring states, most of them headed to the EU member states.

War Update (04-06 April 2022)

04-06 April 2022

  • Russia is expected to send forces from the Kyiv axis to Izyum, but it appears that these units will not be battle ready for some time.
  • The withdrawal of Russian units from around Kiev and intel reports indicating Putin’s new war strategy will centre on Donbas regions means redeployment of its troops in Mariupol to Donbas to complete encirclement of Ukrainian troops from south.
  • Following Bucha massacre, a new wave of sanctions is on its way. While the US will block Russia making debt payments at US banks with US dollars, to force a possible default, the EU is about to forbid importing Russian coal.

Military Situation

Russian soldiers are now rearming and resupplying in Belarus and Russia, but it is uncertain when some or all of these Russian units would relocate in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. Russian military have left Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and are likely to intensify offensives in the east. According to credible reports, Russia is expected to send forces from the Kyiv axis to Izyum, but it appears that these units will not be battle ready for some time.

On the North-East (Kharkiv) Axis, Russian Forces held the city of Izyum while blockading and shelling the city of Kharkiv. Russia is reportedly deploying elements from the Kyiv axis to Izyum, but these units are not likely to regain combat effectiveness for some time. Russian forces are likely aiming to reinforce its forces in order to advance in the direction of Slоvyansk and Barvinkove.

On the East (Donbas) Axis, Russian Forces in the Donbas region are likely to reinvigorate their offensive campaign in order to control the entire Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and if the situation permits advance towards Dnipro. But the combat effectiveness of their forces is far from achieving this objective, at least for the time being. In order to sustain its defence in the east of Dnipro river, Ukraine both needs weapons and fresh units to replenish its forces.

On the South (Crimea) Axis, as the Russian control over Kherson loosens, its forces continue to sporadically target critical infrastructure and high value targets in Mykolaiv and Odesa, and keep Mariupol under tight control. Russian forces and paramilitaries will likely continue fight in Mariupol to seize full control in the coming days at all costs. The withdrawal of Russian units from around Kiev and intel reports indicating Putin’s new war strategy will centre on Donbas regions means redeployment of its troops in Mariupol to Donbas to complete encirclement of Ukrainian troops from south.

In the Black Sea, the mines drifting from the Northern Black Sea pose a serious risk to the merchant traffic. The Russian Navy continues to launch Kalibr cruise missiles to hit ground targets in Ukraine.

Political Situation

Following Bucha massacre, a new wave of sanctions is on its way. While the US will block Russia making debt payments at US banks with US dollars, to force a possible default, the EU is about to forbid importing Russian coal. The President of the European Council Charles Michel’s latest statement manifests that despite significant dependency on Russian gas (notably Germany’s), the bloc is getting ready for a full decoupling in energy (coal, oil and gas), which would further increase energy bills. Together with already spiked agricultural prices, originated from the Russian invasion, it is likely that a global economic turbulence is looming which would not only affect the most vulnerable (the global South), but also the most developed countries.

India and China’s recent moves are good signs. Yet they seem to be motivated by Western pressure and are far from a true alignment with the rest of the World.

Social and economic situation

As the Russian army withdraws from the Kyiv region, a tragedy has been observed in the Ukrainian residential areas. A systematic destruction of the civilian population and infrastructure is reported in the cities Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel and other small towns in the Kyiv region where many civilian dead people who were shot lay on the streets.

Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing more than 4,3 million Ukrainians seek refuge in neighbouring states, most of them headed to the EU member states.

War Update (01-03 April 2022)

01-03 April 2022

  • The main body of Russian forces around Kyiv has most certainly withdrawn from both sides of the Dnipro River.
  • It can be assessed that Russian forces retreating from Kyiv will very certainly take a long time to return to fight.
  • The existence of an independent Ukrainian state with its capital in Kyiv is no longer in doubt.
  • The humanitarian reports show the perpetuation of systematic war crimes by the Russian Army including mass graves, sexual violence, attacks on civilians including children and the destruction of civilian buildings.
  • Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing more than 4,2 million Ukrainians to seek refuge in neighbouring states, most of them headed to the EU member states.

 Military Situation

On the North (Kyiv) axis, the main body of Russian forces has most certainly withdrawn from both sides of the Dnipro River. The disorganized character of the retreat appears to have left countless Russian soldiers and maybe small pockets of Russian troops behind. The Russian withdrawal’s disarray implies that at least some of the troops presently relocating in Belarus and western Russia may remain combat useless for some time. Therefore, it can be assessed that Russian forces retreating from Kyiv will very certainly take a long time to return to fight. Although significant fighting remains and the conflict might yet shift Russia’s way, the existence of an independent Ukrainian state with its capital in Kyiv is no longer in doubt.

On the northeast (Kharkiv) axis, Russian forces continue reportedly to blockade the city of Kharkiv while regrouping its troops. Russian forces, as claimed, took the control of the city Izium and likely prepared to advance towards Slovyansk.

It is likely that Russian forces left Kyiv and its surrounding areas are planning to be deployed to Donbas to further Russian gains in that region. If the Russian Army will be able to gather sufficient force in the south, it will try to reach Odesa to cut Ukraine completely off the Black Sea. However, given the poor combat effectiveness of the Russian Forces, this will be hard and costly.

On the South (Crimea) axis, as the Russian control over Kherson loosens, its forces continue to sporadically target critical infrastructure and high-value targets in Mykolaiv and Odesa, and keep Mariupol under tight control. Russian forces and paramilitaries will likely continue fighting in Mariupol to seize full control in the coming days at all costs. The humanitarian reports show the perpetration of systematic war crimes, and the fact that there is not one building in the city that has not been targeted shows Russian forces want to punish the city. Once totally destroyed, the Russian forces will likely try seizure of control in Kherson.

Political Situation

With the recent reports on mass graves, sexual violence, attacks on civilians including children and the destruction of civilian buildings, more people speak up to send Russian President Vladimir Putin to UN war crimes tribunals, which will require a different geopolitical setting after the war. Even if this seems to be less likely, Putin’s legacy would be far from a priding one.

EU-China Summit brought nothing new as China refused to join sanctions against Russia. China’s stance will likely affect the duration of the war if Russia can circumvent the sanctions. Meanwhile, the EU and Russia continue to ban their personage from entering their territory respectively, tightening the tensions further.

Following longstanding energy dependence to Russia, Germany tries to take back control of its energy infrastructure in an attempt to avoid further damage in a possible Russian gas cut.

Social and economic situation

As the Russian army withdraws from the Kyiv region, a tragedy has been observed in the Ukrainian residential areas. The systematic destruction of the civilian population and infrastructure is reported in the cities Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel and other small towns in the Kyiv region where many civilian dead people who were shot lay on the streets.

Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing more than 4,2 million Ukrainians to seek refuge in neighbouring states, most of them headed to the EU member states.

Since nuclear options for Russia is not out of the shelf, some of the European countries started issuing iodine tablets as a precaution.

War Update (28-31 March 2022)

28-31 March 2022

  • Russia is withdrawing some of its damaged troops from Kyiv, likely aiming to re-equip, re-supply, and perhaps deploy these forces to other sectors in Ukraine.
  • Russia desperately needs an immediate victory and Mariupol seems like the most promising option for the Russian Army.
  • Kremlin would like to gain time in order to make plans and reorganise for the next phase of its military operations.
  • More than 4 million Ukrainians have fled so far through neighbouring states mostly seeking refuge in European countries.

 Military Situation

On the North (Kyiv) axis, Russia is withdrawing some of its damaged troops, likely aiming to re-equip, re-supply, and perhaps deploy these forces somewhere in Ukraine. Russian military removed from Kyiv would most likely be redeployed to other axes, but it will not likely enable them to gain big achievements.

On the northeast (Kharkiv) axis, the Russian Armed Forces reportedly didn’t conduct any offensive operations around Kharkiv, while Ukrainian troops were able to push them back in two directions to the north of the city. The town of Izium seems to remain the most critical point, where the fighting continues and the Russian troops tried to conduct offensive operations without any significant change of territory.

On the East (Donbas) axis, Russian forces kept on conducting offensive operations but could not make any major advances.

On the South (Crimea) axis, the creation of camps to hold Ukrainians in Mariupol and Russian efforts to establish Russian state extension and increase propaganda show Russian intentions to create a new pseudo- republic in the area around Mariupol and Kherson. This will allow Russian forces to link Crimea which was annexed in 2014 with Donetsk alongside creating a steppingstone to advance in the direction of Odessa. It is likely that Russian forces will increase the tempo of their operations towards Mykolaiv to at least seize the shore head in Bug River. Once it transfers forces from other theatres such as Kyiv and from the Middle East and Georgia, it will likely continue to advance towards Odesa to deny shore exit to Ukraine. From a political perspective, Russia desperately needs an immediate victory and Mariupol seems like the most promising option for the Russian Army.

In the Black Sea, a third mine was spotted and defused by Romania. It is still unknown who planted the mines, and parties exchanged accusations. Russia previously blamed Ukraine for laying mines to defend its ports, whereas Kyiv objects that Russia seized those mines in Sevastopol during the annexation of Crimea, and those mines hence do not belong to the Ukrainian Navy. In the Mediterranean, the Russian naval vessels have carried out a replenishment at sea around Crete. Thus, they can keep their positions for a while to monitor and impede naval traffic to the Aegean.

Political Situation

We assume that Kremlin would like to gain time in order to make plans and reorganise for the next step. Since Kremlin has failed to achieve its political goals in the first phase, it will likely take all necessary risks to be successful in the next phase of its military operations and it needs time for reorganization.

Germany prioritised trade and energy relations with Russia for years and turned a deaf ear to all kinds of cautions on its energy dependency on the latter, finding short term alternatives to Russian gas does not seem to be manageable. Still, Germany, together with France and Italy, endeavours quick fixes to Russian gas. A possible Russian gas cut is a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

Social and economic situation

Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing more than 4 million Ukrainians to seek refuge in neighbouring states (almost all headed to the EU member states) in a month time.

As the war protracts the humanitarian suffering as well as the burden on the host countries increases.

War Update (24-27 March 2022)

24-27 March 2022

  • The Kremlin is unlikely to abandon its efforts to encircle Kyiv, but it is unclear that it will be able to marshal the military strength required to restart significant offensive operations in the near future.
  • Russian General Staff revealed that their main objective for the initial stage was to control the Donbas region -contrary to Putin’s rhetoric and what some western analysts assume- assessed as for face-saving.
  • The terrible humanitarian condition in Mariupol continues to attract global attention.
  • Ukraine is willing to become neutral and compromise over the status of the eastern Donbas region as part of a peace deal.
  • More than 3,8 million Ukrainians have fled so far through neighbouring states mostly seeking refuge in European countries.

Military Situation

On the North (Kyiv) Axis, neither Russian nor Ukrainian forces undertook large actions northwest of Kyiv. Russian bombardment targeted Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel, Borodyanka, and Makariv, according to civil authorities in Kyiv Oblast and the Ukrainian General Staff, while Russian forces do not appear to have launched any ground operations in the last 24 hours. Colonel-General Alexander Chayko, Commander of the Russian Eastern Military District (EMD), maybe personally oversee preparations to gather Russian soldiers in Belarus and restart operations to encircle Kyiv from the west. The Kremlin is unlikely to abandon its efforts to encircle Kyiv, but it is unclear that it will be able to marshal the military strength required to restart significant offensive operations in the near future.

On the North-east (Kharkiv) Axis, the Russian Armed Forces reportedly gave up the offensive operations in the Sumy region, while trying to regroup and redeploy units to other areas. Ukrainian troops were able to conduct limited counterattacks around Sumy. While continuing to strike at infrastructure facilities in Kharkiv, Russian troops tried to conduct offensive operations in the direction of the city of Izyum without any significant change of territory.

On the East (Donbas) Axis, the Russian General Staff revealed that their main objective for the initial stage was to control the Donbas region, contrary to Putin’s rhetoric and what some western analysts assume. Given the size and scope of the military operations conducted by the Russian Army in and around Ukraine, such a huge effort for this limited objective doesn’t make much sense. Instead, the Russian General Staff seems trying to save face amid humiliating failures and trying to sell the territorial gains where they relatively made progress to the public.

On the South (Crimea) Axis, the reports show Russian forces have made changes to their initial operational plan. It seems the Russian forces try to consolidate their hold in the Donbas Region, secondarily continue advance towards Odesa while holding off attacks on Kyiv. The terrible humanitarian condition in Mariupol continues to attract global attention. The Russian forces replicated modus operandi in Syria, pulverizing the city that refused to surrender and thus punishing it. The mayor says 90 pc of the city infrastructure has been hit while Russian media try to sell the drone videos as efforts of the Ukrainian separatists not leaving any stone unturned while leaving. Despite attacks, Russian forces have not been able to capture Mykolaiv. Russian Forces are committing war crimes in Mariıupol and this is being documented by the international media.”

On the Black Sea, it is unlikely for Russia to conduct an amphibious assault against Odessa. The Russian Navy continues to strike targets in Ukraine with Kalibr (SS-N-27 Sizzler) cruise missiles. The Russian task force in the Mediterranean seems to operate in the South of Crete in order to patrol and block the entrance to the Aegean Sea. Some mines laid by Ukraine in the Northern Sea have drifted away towards the South of the Black Sea. Hence, they pose a risk not only to naval vessels but also to the merchant ships sailing in the Black Sea.”

Political Situation

Although there is a strong Western unity against Russian aggression, there are significant differences in their stances. While Anglo-Saxons and Eastern European Countries have strong opposition which manifests itself in provocative language against Russia, Western European Countries have a more reconciliatory tone in their discourses. In this regard, the tensions have considerably escalated over Joe Biden’s blunt and harsh rhetoric against Putin even though Blinken (US Secretary of State) and the White House officials made immediate clarifications that the US is not seeking a regime change in Russia. Macron was swift to step in as he urged parties not to use inflammatory language and rather focus on an immediate ceasefire as well as a full withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

Ukraine is willing to become neutral and compromise over the status of the eastern Donbas region as part of a peace deal, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday, after a Ukrainian negotiator said the next round of face-to-face talks with Russia would be held in Turkey on March 28-30.

Social and Economic Situation

Meanwhile, the EU is continuing – belatedly – to seek alternatives to Russian gas as Kremlin requests rouble in payments from “unfriendly” states. The US pledged to provide 15 billion cubic metres (bcm) of additional LNG this year which will surely fill a certain amount of the gap, yet, it is contentious that this can fill the gap. These moves on the energy (chess) board herald the next move; a possible complete Russian gas cut to Europe. This seems to be a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. The EU is trying to buy time in order to find alternatives whereas Russia aspires to reverse the tide and if not calculate the time when it hurts Europe most.

Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing more than 3,8 million Ukrainians to seek refuge in neighbouring states (almost all headed to the EU member states) in a month time.

War Update (21-23 March 2022)

21-23 March 2022

  • The momentum of the Russian invasion shows little sign of significant progress.
  • There is an increase in the use of indirect weapons by Russian troops.
  • Russian hypersonic missiles attacks have been a focal point of international attention as an indicator of Russia escalating the conflict.
  • Russian forces have likely proceeded to settle in for a protracted and stalemated battle with indications that are taking defensive positions.
  • More than 3,6 million Ukrainians have fled so far through neighbouring states mostly seeking refuge in the European countries.

 Military Situation

Russian military invasion of Ukraine completed its 27th day. The momentum of the Russian invasion shows little sign of significant progress. What appears to have changed is a minor increase in the use of indirect weapons (artillery, mortars, rockets, and missiles) by Russian troops, as opposed to direct engagements and airstrikes. These assaults have targeted Kyiv, the country’s south and east, extending from Odessa to Kharkiv Oblasts. Collateral damage has been a common occurrence in several of these situations. Despite this, Ukrainian soldiers appear to be defending themselves against Russian forces.

Additionally, Russian hypersonic missiles attacks have been a focal point of international attention as an indicator of Russia escalating the conflict. Accordingly, Russian troops are expected to keep focusing on employing artillery, missiles, rockets, mortars, and air attacks to avoid future casualties, damage Ukrainian defences, and persuade Ukraine to agree to Russia’s conditions during diplomatic discussions. Further, it seems that Russian forces have proceeded to settle in for a protracted and stalemated battle, with further reports of Russian troops digging in and planting mines—indications that they have gone defensive.

  • In this frame on the North (Kyiv) Axis, Ukrainian troops highly likely will continue to launch limited and effective counterattacks in order to alleviate pressure on Kyiv, albeit the scale of such counterattacks is likely to be smaller than what some Ukrainian authorities indicate.
  • On the North-east (Kharkiv) Axis, the Russian Armed Forces didn’t carry out active offensive operations, but their main efforts focused on carrying out artillery and airstrikes on the city of Kharkiv and Sumy including heavily civilian infrastructure objects. Russia couldn’t block or encircle these cities close to the border so far and they will likely aim to break the will for resistance of the Ukrainian people by destroying the civilian targets and deteriorating the living conditions.
  • On the East (Donbas) Axis, Ukrainian Forces are holding east of the Donets River so far, but Russian forces that are advancing from Crimea northward might encircle Ukrainian Forces defending Donbas region (east of Dnipro River) if they hold Kryvyi Rih – Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia triangle. But at the same time, Russians will become more exposed to Ukrainian kinetic effects and encounter logistical hurdles due to lengthened lines of communication.
  • On the South (Crimea) Axis, as the humanitarian disaster unfolds in Mariupol and Kherson, the Ukrainian forces hold fast despite massive Russian attacks to seize Mykolaiv. The city is important for Russian forces to execute a coordinated attack on Odesa, the prize of the operations in this sector. President Zelensky stated there is not much left of Mariupol. The Russian forces replicate modus operandi in Syria to pulverize the city that refused to surrender and thus punish it. Once Russian land forces and navy are finished with Mariupol and Kherson, both will divert attention to further advance towards first Mykolaiv and then Odesa.
  • We have been monitoring the Russian naval vessels in the Black Sea and their movements to grasp if they are really preparing to launch an amphibious operation or not. A landing is already a complex operation in its nature. The Russian Navy does not have solid experience with amphibious operations, and there are challenges such as the topography of the landing areas. In this context, if the circulating news about the destruction of an Alligator class landing vessel, which claimed to be Orsk unloading military equipment and troops in the Berdiyansk port, is accurate, a landing becomes a very remote possibility anymore. The Russian Navy is reported to have nine landing ships in the Black Sea, yet it would be very costly to carry out a landing if not impossible as they are struggling to get over this shock. As a result, the Russian Navy can only play a supporting role in this invasion, except for launching missile strikes.

Political Situation

The higher echelons of global politics are very dynamic with 3 summits in Brussels: NATO, G7 and the European Council. The latter is an extraordinary meeting obviously organised to harmonise transatlantic measures as the President of the United States arrived for the former meetings. The theme is Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the coordinated countermeasures.

While Eastern European and Anglo-Saxon states favour a harsher stance, some Allies and member states opt for a careful approach as the stakes are high. Still, most of the states are meticulous not to be drawn into a military conflict and instead continue to support Ukraine for defensive weapons and equipment.

Social and Economic Situation

Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing more than 3,6 million Ukrainians to seek refuge in neighbouring states (almost all headed to the EU member states) in four-week time.

The EU member states have to provide them immediate social assistance (accommodation & social benefits) during worsening economic conditions such as increased energy and food prices. The EU needs to be swift in finding innovative policies to this forthcoming socio-economic pressure before it is too late.

One thing is obvious as the war protracts, the suffering and the resources needed to rebuild Ukraine will increase enormously.

War Update (17-20 March 2022)

17-20 March 2022

  • Russian military invasion of Ukraine completed its 24th day and its offensive campaign is mostly halted on 4 main axes and likely going into a stalemate.
  • Russian forces will likely continue bombard the cities to break the will of the Ukrainian people to resist.
  • Despite subsequent high-level contacts with Chinese leadership, the US failed to ensure China’s neutrality, let alone support to global sanctions regime against Russia.
  • Russia’s brutal campaign caused 3,5 million Ukrainians seek refuge in neighbouring states (almost all headed to the EU member states) in three-week time.

 Military Situation

Russian military invasion of Ukraine completed its 24th day and its offensive campaign is mostly halted on 4 main axes and likely going into a stalemate. Russian forces will likely continue bombard the cities to break the will of the Ukrainian people to resist.

  • Russian forces have not made any significant gains on the North (Kyiv) axis. Therefore, around Kyiv, Russian soldiers are erecting more defensive positions and preparing to deploy more artillery and fire control equipment. This situation likely signals that the Kremlin is preparing for the possibility of a long war in Ukraine.
  • On the Northeast (Kharkiv) axis, Russia is reinforcing its troops after Ukrainian forces halted its attempt to advance southeast of Kharkiv through Izyum.
  • On the East (Donbas) axis, there is no major territorial gains by the Russian forces. Humanitarian situation in the region likely to worsen as Russian Army advances westwards.
  • On the South (Crimea) axis, the Russian military operations in Mariupol have shifted to clearing operations after the completion of the encirclement. The Russian forces’ intentional targeting of civilian targets and house-to-house fight shows that Russian forces consider full seizure of the city an important step in further advance and an important bargaining chip for the ongoing negotiations. Heavily fortified city will likely defend as long as the Ukrainian troops have supplies. The footage of the landing ship depicts that Russia dispatched additional troops and military equipment by using its Navy, possibly for reinforcing its forces in Mariupol. Russian Armed Forces will not likely initiate an offensive operation against Odessa in the near future.

Political Situation

Despite subsequent high-level contacts with Chinese leadership, the US failed to ensure China’s neutrality, let alone support to global sanctions regime against Russia. China’s ultimate positions remains as a global concern on the future of Russian aggression.

American officials are proposing that NATO member Turkey could potentially arm Ukraine with the much more sophisticated Russian-built S-400 missiles it took delivery of in 2019. At the current situation, it is unlikely for Turkey to deliver S-400 missile defence systems to Ukraine in response to be included F-35 program again.

Meanwhile, a military spill over to one of the Allies or EU member states is not out of the question as some aspire to send Ukraine military equipment including Russian S300 or MIG29 which Russia threatens to take as a military target.

Social and economic situation

Russia’s brutal campaign drags on, with no end in sight, causing 3,5 million Ukrainians seek refuge in neighbouring states (almost all headed to the EU member states) in three-week time. The EU member states have to provide them immediate social assistance (accommodation & social benefits) during worsening economic conditions such as increased energy and food prices. The EU needs to be swift in finding innovative policies to this forthcoming socio-economic pressure before it is too late.

War Update (14-16 March 2022)

14-16 March 2022

  • Russian military invasion of Ukraine completed its 21st day mostly slowed down by the Ukrainian forces and supply shortages.
  • It seems that the Ukrainian centre of gravity will be prolonged resistance with Western capitals’ support in the near future.
  • Some progress has been announced on a tentative plan including a ceasefire and Russian withdrawal if Kyiv declares neutrality and accepts limits on its armed forces.
  • The humanitarian impact of the war is huge. The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine has raised up to 3 m.

 Military Situation

Russian military invasion of Ukraine completed its 21st day and its offensive campaign is going on on 4 main axes mostly slowed down by the Ukrainian forces and supply shortages. It seems that the Ukrainian centre of gravity will be prolonged resistance with Western capitals’ support in the near future, on the other hand, Russia might increase its efforts to break Ukraine’s will to fight. Additionally, calls for a no-fly zone and anti-Russia sentiment will grow in the coming days.

  • On the North (Kiev) axis, Russian troops made several small strikes on the northwest of Kyiv on 14-15 March without significant gains. They are unlikely to start offensive operations within the next week to encircle Kyiv, although they may launch new tactical attacks. They are likely to continue reinforcing the first line units and logistics.
  • On the North-East (Kharkiv) Axis, Russian forces aiming to encircle Kharkiv made only limited and unsuccessful attacks on the southeast of Kharkiv. They are assessed to have shortages of supply. Ukrainian forces could carry out successful local counterattacks around Kharkiv which shows that Russian forces are unlikely to bypass Kharkiv and advance toward Dnipro in the near term.
  • On the Donbas axis, Russian forces and its affiliates continued to make slow but steady advances although the Ukrainian military is still holding most of its defensive line.
  • On the South axis, the Russian military operations evolve in two directions:

(1) From Kherson to northeast. It seems that Russian forces are unlikely to successfully encircle Mykolayiv and threaten Odesa in the near future. Russian Navy is likely looking for a window opportunity to conduct an amphibious operation with the Russian naval task force in the region which has 14 warships including minesweepers. But without a secured ground of communication, it is not likely that they initiate such an operation.
(2) Reducing the Ukrainian pocket in Mariupol. Russian forces have encircled Mariupol and are conducting daily attacks on the western and eastern outskirts of the city. They also continue to target residential areas and civilian infrastructure to force the city to capitulate. The heavily fortified city will likely defend as long as the Ukrainian troops have supplies.

The Russian military is likely to deploy small Syrian units to Ukraine within the week and has already deployed private military company forces.

The Western support is crucial to keep up the morale of the Ukrainian soldiers and the intensity of their resistance, which is key to pushing Russian forces to reach the culmination point in their aggression.

Political Situation

NATO seems to be on a knife-edge between the Allies will to support Ukraine and avoid a military spillover that would invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

After the latest peace talk between the sides, it is announced that Ukraine and Russia made progress on a tentative plan including a ceasefire and Russian withdrawal if Kyiv declares neutrality and accepts limits on its armed forces. Meanwhile, Zelensky’s acknowledgement that Ukraine will not become a NATO member, raised some hope for common ground in the ongoing negotiations.

Although a global isolation campaign (implemented by a considerable number of states, international organisations and even corporates) is underway against Russia, which may be considered as quite successful, China’s stance continues to be a source of concern. While an economic backing of the latter to Russia seems to be bought by the West, possible military support may escalate the tensions between the West and could further align China with Russia.

Social and economic situation

The humanitarian impact of the war is huge on the Ukrainians. The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine has raised up to 3 million as of 15 March. 12 million Ukrainians are affected and more than 2 million are displaced within the country.

People are trying to be evacuated through the announced humanitarian corridors, Russia reportedly not respecting well.  10 “humanitarian corridors” are announced on Monday including from towns near the capital Kyiv and in the eastern region of Luhansk.

War Update (10-13 March 2022)

07-09 March 2022

 On its 12-14th days, the Russian advance of its invasion slowly continues with heavy fighting and shelling at four different axes, aimed at encircling and controlling large cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

  • Civilian casualties are likely to soar as the Russian Army continues to attack the cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.
  • The refugees exceed 2 million in 2 weeks, mostly heading to the European Member States after the EU’s temporary protection decision.
  • Eyes are on the first high-level talks on 10 March in Turkey between Foreign Ministers of the warring sides.

 Military Situation

On the North (Kiev) axis, Russian forces are expected to have resumed offensive operations against Kyiv and to maintain their western encirclement, although they have made little headway. Further, Russian forces east of the Dnipro near Kyiv are presumably aiming to secure their communication links against large Ukrainian counter-attacks and disruption in order to prepare the stage for an eastward advance on the city.

On the South axis, the Russian military conducts a multi-pronged offensive. The advance of Russian troops towards Odesa, the historical port city hosting the Ukrainian navy, and Mariupol to connect with forces in the separatist-held Donetsk region continue. In order to break up Ukrainian resistance and the will of the Ukrainians to fight against invasion, Russian troops have started to seize control of nuclear power plants located in the south and north of the country. In the south, Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has fallen into the hands of Russian forces after an irresponsible operation. They continue their advance towards the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant located just north of Odesa. This latter initiative raises the spectre of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and compromise the security of the whole of Europe in an irresponsible way.

On the Donbas axis, Russian Forces and its affiliates in Donbas are likely to aim: to reach the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts; connecting the Donbas region with Crimea by taking Mariupol and depriving Ukraine of access to the Azov Sea; connecting Donbas axis with Kharkiv axis and consolidate its territorial gains; preventing Ukrainian Army from concentrating its defensive capabilities to where they are more needed.

There is not much Russian advance on the North-East (Kharkiv) Axis, it is assessed that Russian forces are regrouping and preparing for renewing offensive operations around Kharkiv while continuing shelling the cities.

Civilian casualties are likely to soar as the Russian Army continues to attack the cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

Although five humanitarian corridors were set as announced by Russia, arguments over routes and allegations of breaches made it difficult to establish the corridors allowing civilians to escape besieged cities.

Political Situation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba today begin peace talks on 10 March in Turkey in the first such high-level contact since the invasion began.

China continues to stay hesitant in positioning itself vis-à-vis the ongoing war. While praising its ties with Russia, China pledged to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine, leaving China in total limbo.

While the US spearheads the global sanctions against Russia, including the ban on importing Russian oil, the former is very sensitive on not to provoke the latter to a military confrontation. In this regard, the US denied receiving Polish MIG-29s in order to hand them over to Ukraine.

Poland‘s offer to send MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine is a very brave decision for Poland however US decision not to accept this offer, for now, is also a right act for now.

Turkey has been trying to be neutral and has a mediator role in the war due to the high risks it would face however it would be more difficult as the war evolves in a more complicated situation.

Social and economic situation

The EU seems to follow this playbook on revoking its dependency on Russian fossil fuels, still, it would be easier said than done as the EU is very dependent on Russian gas (around 40% of its imports). Besides, such efforts in decoupling Russia, augmented with a concerted global sanctions regime, could easily have a spillover effect on war (e.g. Pearl Harbour).

Meanwhile, the refugees exceed 2 million in 2 weeks, mostly heading to the European Member States. In this regard, one should foresee increasing socio-economic pressure both on the EU (another refugee crisis) and on Russia (because of global sanctions) which is eventually likely to have a military spillover effect as well.

War Update (07-09 March 2022)

07-09 March 2022

 On its 12-14th days, the Russian advance of its invasion slowly continues with heavy fighting and shelling at four different axes, aimed at encircling and controlling large cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

  • Civilian casualties are likely to soar as the Russian Army continues to attack the cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.
  • The refugees exceed 2 million in 2 weeks, mostly heading to the European Member States after the EU’s temporary protection decision.
  • Eyes are on the first high-level talks on 10 March in Turkey between Foreign Ministers of the warring sides.

 Military Situation

On the North (Kiev) axis, Russian forces are expected to have resumed offensive operations against Kyiv and to maintain their western encirclement, although they have made little headway. Further, Russian forces east of the Dnipro near Kyiv are presumably aiming to secure their communication links against large Ukrainian counter-attacks and disruption in order to prepare the stage for an eastward advance on the city.

On the South axis, the Russian military conducts a multi-pronged offensive. The advance of Russian troops towards Odesa, the historical port city hosting the Ukrainian navy, and Mariupol to connect with forces in the separatist-held Donetsk region continue. In order to break up Ukrainian resistance and the will of the Ukrainians to fight against invasion, Russian troops have started to seize control of nuclear power plants located in the south and north of the country. In the south, Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has fallen into the hands of Russian forces after an irresponsible operation. They continue their advance towards the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant located just north of Odesa. This latter initiative raises the spectre of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and compromise the security of the whole of Europe in an irresponsible way.

On the Donbas axis, Russian Forces and its affiliates in Donbas are likely to aim: to reach the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts; connecting the Donbas region with Crimea by taking Mariupol and depriving Ukraine of access to the Azov Sea; connecting Donbas axis with Kharkiv axis and consolidate its territorial gains; preventing Ukrainian Army from concentrating its defensive capabilities to where they are more needed.

There is not much Russian advance on the North-East (Kharkiv) Axis, it is assessed that Russian forces are regrouping and preparing for renewing offensive operations around Kharkiv while continuing shelling the cities.

Civilian casualties are likely to soar as the Russian Army continues to attack the cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

Although five humanitarian corridors were set as announced by Russia, arguments over routes and allegations of breaches made it difficult to establish the corridors allowing civilians to escape besieged cities.

Political Situation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba today begin peace talks on 10 March in Turkey in the first such high-level contact since the invasion began.

China continues to stay hesitant in positioning itself vis-à-vis the ongoing war. While praising its ties with Russia, China pledged to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine, leaving China in total limbo.

While the US spearheads the global sanctions against Russia, including the ban on importing Russian oil, the former is very sensitive on not to provoke the latter to a military confrontation. In this regard, the US denied receiving Polish MIG-29s in order to hand them over to Ukraine.

Poland‘s offer to send MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine is a very brave decision for Poland however US decision not to accept this offer, for now, is also a right act for now.

Turkey has been trying to be neutral and has a mediator role in the war due to the high risks it would face however it would be more difficult as the war evolves in a more complicated situation.

Social and economic situation

The EU seems to follow this playbook on revoking its dependency on Russian fossil fuels, still, it would be easier said than done as the EU is very dependent on Russian gas (around 40% of its imports). Besides, such efforts in decoupling Russia, augmented with a concerted global sanctions regime, could easily have a spillover effect on war (e.g. Pearl Harbour).

Meanwhile, the refugees exceed 2 million in 2 weeks, mostly heading to the European Member States. In this regard, one should foresee increasing socio-economic pressure both on the EU (another refugee crisis) and on Russia (because of global sanctions) which is eventually likely to have a military spillover effect as well.

War Update (04-07 March 2022)

04-07 March 2022

  • On its 9-11th days, Russian advance of its invasion slowly continues with heavy fighting and shelling at three different axes, aimed at encircling and controlling large cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.
  • It is highly likely that Russian forces will launch several large campaigns including heavy air & missile attacks after its regroupings and preparations.
  • As the first apparent sign of progress at the “peace talks” on 4 March, the sides agreed on the need for humanitarian corridors to deliver aid and help civilians exit besieged Ukrainian cities.
  • The EU’s temporary protection decision is a prompt relief for the Ukrainians seeking refuge.

 Military Situation

On the North (Kyiv) axis, it is assessed that Russian operations include a major effort aimed at enveloping and eventually encircling the city from the west, as well as supporting actions aimed at encircling it from the northeast and east along the Chernihiv and Sumy axes. Russian forces in the vicinity of Kyiv have continued to consolidate in preparation for the resumption of offensive operations both east and west of the city. They’ve made a few moves to push the western envelopment, but they haven’t made much progress. Yet, it is highly likely that Russian forces will launch several large campaigns including heavy air & missile attacks.

Russian forces in the South Axis conduct operations in two directions, advancing from Crimea towards Odessa and Kherson in the west, and towards Mariupol in the east linking forces in Crimea with those in Donetsk. On both, Russian forces started advancing slowly to the North.

On the North-East (Kharkiv) Axis, it is assessed that Russian forces are regrouping and preparing for renewing offensive operations around Kharkiv while shelling the cities. This timeframe gave a window of opportunity to Ukraine forces reportedly to make local counter attacks to clear some areas or to give some losses to the Russian forces.

Political Situation

On the 9th day, the sides agreed on the need for humanitarian corridors to deliver aid and help civilians exit besieged Ukrainian cities, in the first apparent sign of progress in talks between the warring sides. However, this could be hardly implemented on the field.

Israel’s premier stepped into the role of mediator as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensified, meeting at the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin and calling Ukraine’s president and flying to Berlin.

Turkey remains wary of aggravating Moscow and avoids publicizing the role of its UAVs in the conflict that she sold to Ukraine just before the war so as not to damage economic ties or trigger military retaliation in places like Syria.

Social and economic situation

While the EU’s temporary protection decision is a prompt relief for those seeking refuge, it is not clear what will be the status of the latter should Russia invade the country permanently or the conflict freezes.

War Update (01-03 March 2022)

01-03 March 2022

  • On its 6-8th days, the Russian invasion continues with heavy fighting and shelling at three different axes.
  • The first 2 rounds of peace talks ended without a ceasefire.
  • It has huge humanitarian consequences on the Ukrainian civilian people, having forced already 1 million people to leave the country.

Military Situation

On the Northern (Kyiv) axis, reports indicate that Ukrainian forces have been able to retake areas of Kyiv’s western suburbs, implying that Russian forces are likely to encircle the city, Kyiv. The Russian attack on Kyiv is anticipated to be divided into two parts: a major operation aimed at engulfing and eventually surrounding the city from the west, and a supporting effort aimed at encircling it from the east along the axis from Chernihiv and Sumy. Russia aims to reinforce its slowed down offensive with the reported battle convoy 30 km north of Kyiv.

Russian forces on the Southern (Crimea) Axis conduct operations in two directions, advancing from Crimea towards Kherson and Odesa in the east, and towards Mariupol, linking forces in Crimea with those in Donetsk. Kherson, which is an important target due to having access to fresh water supplies Crimea, is reported to be controlled by Russian forces. The fall of Odesa will cut off Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov, while the fall of Odesa will cut Ukraine from the Black Sea.

On the Eastern (Kharkiv) Axis, Russian forces will likely launch a renewed ground offensive to seize Kharkiv following the air and artillery attack it has already started.

The lengthening of the Russian offensive will likely bring massive difficulties to the Russian logistics support to its troops. The weather and terrain conditions in this season and Ukraine’s attacks on Russian logistic lines worsens the situation for the Russian side.

Political situation

The first two rounds of “peace talks resumed on Thursday in Belarus between Russia and Ukraine ended after several hours of negotiations without a cease-fire agreement and war continuing to rage.

Vladimir Putin says violence ‘will get worse’ and plans to take over all of Ukraine during a phone call on Thursday afternoon. President Putin expressed his very great determination to continue the offensive, the aim of which is to take control of the whole country.

Ukrainian Forces’ defence has been managed successfully by its government, upgrading its defence into a total war by motivating and organising the support of its citizens.

Social and economic situation

The World Bank’s decision comes as a large number of countries, organisations and businesses are severing ties and have imposed sanctions on Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine, and with Belarus for its support and cooperation with Moscow.

While European sanctions will put a heavy burden on the Russian economy, it will also have repercussions on the European economy. The prices have already risen in gas, electricity and food, more to follow in the next few weeks.

More than 1 million refugees have left Ukraine, almost all to European countries. With the continuing fight, as many as 4 million could be displaced.

These socio-economic downtrends might disrupt European unity against Russia in the coming weeks.

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