In early 2022, Russia moved to invade Ukraine following massive troop build-ups on the border in the preceding months. It was a huge escalation of tensions that had been simmering since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and started backing separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Western states to which Kyiv looks for support condemned Moscow’s action as a major international crisis developed. Leveraging contacts on all sides and engaging local and foreign actors, including in the West, Crisis Group reports on the war, assesses its human costs, gauges the larger threats to Ukrainian and European security, and encourages actions that can bring fighting to an end. Our advocacy, written products and visual explainer describe the conflict’s evolving dynamics and identify ways to facilitate prospects for peace and a reunified Ukraine.
The following is adapted from a March 2023 report by Crisis Group’s President and CEO Comfort Ero to the organisation’s Trustees (before Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s 20-21 March visit to Moscow). She looks at the Ukraine war and its knock-on effects – from big-power polarisation to middle-power activism and disquiet outside the West about the conflict.
One year on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, signs of new Russian offensive in embattled east began to emerge, Biden visited Kyiv, and Zelenskyy called on Western states to send fighter jets.
Stepped-up Russian activity along front line signalled new offensive. 24 Feb marked one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, amid indications of new Russian offensive to fully occupy eastern Donbas region, including increased Russian activity along front line, arrival of electronic warfare equipment, more reconnaissance activities and spike in losses of Russian soldiers. There were no major breakthroughs, however. In Donetsk region, Russian forces attempted to capture Vuhledar hilltop mining town, control of which would give them strategic advantage for operations to occupy remainder of Donetsk, but reportedly suffered major losses of troops and equipment in assault. Their troops made more progress around Bakhmut town, but suffered unsustainably high rate of attrition, while Ukrainian units retained control of main road out of town. With Russia’s land force so far unable to punch through Ukrainian defence lines, Western partners 14 Feb warned Russia could intensify airstrikes, making efforts to bolster Ukraine’s air defences a priority. Strikes on critical infrastructure continued, albeit at lower frequency.
Zelenskyy appealed for fighter jets, U.S. President Biden visited Kyiv. During 8 Feb visit to UK, President Zelenskyy urged British lawmakers to send fighter jets; UK PM Rishi Sunak responded that “nothing is off the table”. Zelenskyy’s plea came hours after UK announced it would train Ukrainian pilots to fly NATO-standard fighter jets, suggesting Western countries may be working on plan to send military aircraft. Zelenskyy 8-9 Feb also visited Paris and Brussels. Israeli FM Eli Cohen 16 Feb visited Ukraine, promising more support but refusing to condemn Russia. In strong show of support ahead of anniversary, President Biden 20 Feb made unannounced visit to Kyiv, promising more military aid and tighter sanctions on Russia before heading to Poland.
Defence minister announced new deputies. Following Jan corruption scandal that rattled defence ministry, Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov 14 Feb announced three new deputies as part of anti-graft efforts.
Ce serait une erreur diplomatique de l’Occident que de trop forcer la main aux gouvernements africains sur le dossier ukrainien. Cela heurte beaucoup de sensibilités.
I think they [the Kremlin] will use this [Biden's Kyiv trip] to repeat the line that this is a conflict between Russia and the West, not between Russia and Ukraine.
Certainly, it makes no sense for Ukraine to offer any concessions now, when it has done well militarily and Russia is offering nothing.
I think Russia's plan right now is to capture Donbas [in Ukraine] and to see what they can do next.
There is a real premium [for the G7 leaders] on conveying unity and a credible response because this war [in Ukraine] is not going to be short-lived.
It’s really quite striking how much this defense effort has roots in [the Ukrainian] civil society. There are little networks of people who can buy almost anything, short...
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Bert Koenders, former Dutch minister of foreign affairs and current Crisis Group trustee, to discuss how the war in Ukraine has changed Europe and what the EU can do to adapt.
In UN debates over Russia’s war in Ukraine, Western countries are still pledging to back Kyiv militarily, while non-Western states are more inclined to call for a negotiated peace. Thus far, however, the latter’s proposals for reaching that goal have been short on detail.
The United States and Europe get a few things wrong about global attitudes toward Russia’s war in Ukraine.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Richard Gowan, Crisis Group’s UN director, and Brian Finucane, Crisis Group’s senior adviser for the U.S., to talk about the prospects of a crime of aggression tribunal for Ukraine.
In this video, Olga Oliker, Crisis Group Europe and Central Asia Program Director, talks about the current state of the war in Ukraine a year after Russia's invasion and reflects on the disconnect between the goals of ending the war and of bringing justice.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Olga Oliker, Crisis Group's Europe and Central Asia director, discuss the latest fighting in Ukraine, the mood in Kyiv, Moscow and Western capitals, and where the war might be headed a year into Russia’s full-scale invasion.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Sam Sokol, reporter at Haaretz, to discuss the impact of the war in Ukraine on the country's Jewish communities, accusations of anti-semitism in Ukraine and Russia and their relationship to the real thing, and Ukraine-Israel relations.
Russia’s war in Ukraine may go on for some time to come. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023, Crisis Group explains how the EU and its member states can keep supporting Kyiv while avoiding direct clashes with Moscow.
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