Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, escalating a war that began eight years before with Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. For Ukraine, its very existence as a state is at stake, while Russia hopes its attack will help assert its place in the world and restore its dominance over key neighbours. Ukraine’s Western backers see the prospect of Russia succeeding in violently shifting borders as a risk to their security. They, therefore, try to balance military support to Ukraine and the risk of escalating the conflict. Crisis Group’s reporting follows developments in the war, assesses its human costs and gauges the conflict’s regional and global security implications. In its advocacy, Crisis Group seeks to support policies that will help Ukraine survive and reduce escalation risks and the human cost of fighting while contributing to a sustainably secure Europe.
In March, units reportedly affiliated with the Ukrainian armed forces but composed of Russian citizens and others began making armed incursions into regions of Russia along Ukraine’s border. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts explain who these Russian combatants are and what they are doing.
Russia launched new offensive in east and ramped up strikes on civilian targets, while Kyiv targeted Russian-held territory with new U.S. ATACM missiles.
Russia launched offensive in east and intensified attacks on civilian targets. Russian forces 10 Oct launched offensive in east, coalescing around Avdiivka city (Donetsk region); fierce fighting ensued but Russia struggled to breach heavily fortified Ukrainian positions and incurred significant losses. Ukraine 14 Oct reported heavy Russian attacks on well-fortified positions around cities of Lyman (Donetsk) and Kupiansk (Kharkiv), 31 Oct warned Russia had bolstered its forces around Bakhmut (Donetsk). Meanwhile, aid agency International Rescue Committee 6 Oct warned of stepped-up Russian strikes on civilians and civilian infrastructure. Notably, Russian missile 5 Oct killed over 50 people in Groza village (Kharkiv); drones 12 Oct hit Danube port infrastructure; and President Zelenskyy 25 Oct warned of intensifying strikes on energy infrastructure.
Kyiv struck Russian-occupied territory with U.S. surface-to-surface missiles. Arrival of U.S. ATACM missiles bolstered Ukraine’s ability to strike deep into Russian-held territory, with Kyiv 17 Oct striking airfields in occupied Zaporizhzhia and Luhansk regions that destroyed equipment and likely killed scores of Russian soldiers. In southern Kherson region, Ukrainian forces stepped up operations across Dnipro River, forcing Russia to divert troops from main prong of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in Zaporizhzhia. Meanwhile, satellite images 1 Oct showed Moscow had largely withdrawn its Black Sea fleet from Russian-annexed Crimea base after series of Ukrainian strikes in Sept.
Israel-Gaza war raised concerns about Western backing. Amid dramatic escalation in Israel-Palestine (see Israel/Palestine), concerns rose in Kyiv about implications for Western support to Ukraine. Western leaders promised continued assistance, with U.S. President Joe Biden 19 Oct announcing plans to combine aid for Israel and Ukraine in single legislative package. Malta 28-29 Oct hosted Ukraine peace talks with representatives from over 60 countries, but not Russia. Meanwhile, Slovakia’s newly elected PM Robert Fico 26 Oct announced halt to military aid.
In other important developments. According to Razumkov Center survey published 11 Oct, 64 percent of respondents are against holding elections before war’s end. New Defence Minister Rustem Umerov 18 Oct unveiled Defence Ministry reforms.
Russia wants negotiations … because it thinks that it can get … what it wants from this war … It doesn't mean that Russia is ready to accept any compromise.
If [war in Gaza] morphs into a long, regional conflict, resource constraints on Ukraine may grow in time.
If, as a result of the long conflict between Israel and Palestine, the US has to cut military support to Ukraine … the consequences won’t be until next summer.
Russia is now distracted and doesn't want to get involved in any other problem or crisis other than Ukraine.
If Russian soldiers feel their commanders are not in control, their trenches will be much easier to take for advancing Ukrainian troops.
This week on War & Peace, Olga talks with Samuel Charap, Senior Political Scientist at the RAND Corporation, about the prospect (or lack thereof) of negotiations to end the war in Ukraine, what diplomacy would look like and what role Kyiv’s Western supporters would play in facilitating it.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard talks with Crisis Group experts Olga Oliker and Michael Hanna about the geopolitics of the Gaza war, what it might mean for Ukraine, risks of a wider conflagration and U.S. policy in the Middle East and Europe.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson speak with Charli Carpenter, director of the Human Security Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, about the perception and the gendered effects of Ukraine’s male travel ban and ways for better protecting civilians in wartime.
Sixteen months after Russia’s full-scale invasion, its attacks on Ukrainian cities continue, while Ukraine’s counteroffensive slowly advances. With NATO leaders convening soon, Crisis Group experts explain in this Q&A why a lengthy war may loom and what that means for NATO members and other states.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson speak with Hans Kundnani, Associate Fellow at the Chatham House Europe Programme, about the ideology behind Western support for the war in Ukraine and why it matters.
Mass indictments would sow suspicion in communities, overwhelm the legal system and sideline a vital workforce
Social networks and tech corporations have become significant actors in hybrid warfare, but much work is needed to determine how they can contribute to the broader efforts of preventing and resolving deadly conflicts.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced Europe to rethink its security and defence architecture. In this video, Crisis Group Trustee Bert Koenders talks about sharpening geopolitical lines in Europe following the war in Ukraine.
Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.