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Ukraine

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.

CrisisWatch Ukraine

Unchanged Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Month saw relative calm in Kyiv region as Russian forces withdrew to launch new offensive in east, where fighting could worsen as it edges closer to urban areas. Russian troops by 2 April had vacated stretch of land between Kyiv’s north-western suburbs and Belarusian border, as well as Chernihiv and Sumy regions, north east of Kyiv. Following Russian troops’ departure, authorities said they had recovered over 1,000 bodies of murdered civilians, most notably in Bucha, and alleged war crimes. Russian forces continued attacks in east. Notably, Russia 1 April captured Izium city south east of Kharkiv city; Russian missile 8 April struck train station in Donetsk city of Kramatorsk, killing at least 50. Marking new phase of war, Kremlin 10 April appointed General Alexander Dvornikov to oversee invasion. Russia late-April launched new offensive in Donbas. Notably, Russia 20 April seized eastern town of Kreminna in Luhansk. Ukrainian forces 29 April claimed they regained Ruska Lozova north of Kharkiv; fighting could worsen in east, as it comes closer to urban areas in Severodonetsk and Sloviansk/Kramatorsk area. In south, besieged Donbas port city of Mariupol remained worst affected hotspot with 100,000 people encircled. President Putin 21 April claimed Russian forces took city, although Ukrainian forces remained holed up in Azovstal steel plant; after talks between UN Sec Gen Antonio Guterres and Putin in Moscow on 26 April, UN 30 April reportedly began limited evacuations of civilians from steel plant. Governor of Odessa 13 April announced Ukrainian forces attacked flagship Russian missile cruiser Moskva, which caught fire and sank; large number of 500-member crew remained unaccounted for. On humanitarian front, UN 17 April estimated 7.7mn people internally displaced, 5.3 mn refugees, although exodus reportedly slower than March due to greater security in Kyiv region. On diplomatic front, UN Human Rights Council 7 April suspended Russia. Zelenskyy hosted EU, UK, U.S. officials in capital Kyiv, who promised more sanctions and weapons. Talks between Kyiv and Moscow were limited to humanitarian corridors and exchanges of prisoners, as sides focus on battlefield outcomes in Donbas. Guterres 28 April visited Kyiv and sites of suspected war crimes; Russian airstrikes hit city during visit.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

8 May 2022
Given the personnel shortages, given the equipment shortages on both sides [to the war in Ukraine], but especially on the Russian side, I do wonder how long they can actually keep it up. CBC

Olga Oliker

Program Director, Europe and Central Asia
2 Apr 2022
Few if any wars have been launched with as much nuclear posturing as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I think the bottom line is that Russia's doctrine allows nuclear use in case of existential threat to the state. RFE

Olga Oliker

Program Director, Europe and Central Asia
15 Mar 2022
Having watched how the Russians fight wars over the years, this is nowhere close to all they can do. Washington Post

Olga Oliker

Program Director, Europe and Central Asia
2 Mar 2022
[The UN resolution] isn’t going to stop Russian forces in their stride, but it’s a pretty enormous diplomatic win for the Ukrainians and the US, and everyone who has got behind them. The Guardian

Richard Gowan

UN Director
25 Feb 2022
A lot of diplomatic efforts will have to be put in the Ukraine crisis now and has already been put in – to the detriment of other crises here in Africa. Africanews

Pauline Bax

Deputy Program Director, Africa
23 Feb 2022
By abandoning the Minsk agreements, Russia has deprived itself of one avenue of potential long-term political leverage over Ukraine and will now be seeking another one. Reuters

Oleg Ignatov

Senior Analyst, Russia

Latest Updates

Internal Displacement and Humanitarian Response in Ukraine

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson talk to Crisis Group expert Simon Schlegel about the mass displacement resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as the conflict enters its third month and fighting continues in the east and south.

European Security and France’s Election in the Shadow of Russia’s War in Ukraine

This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group Trustee and distinguished French diplomat Gérard Araud about European security, transatlantic politics, the West’s relations with Moscow and France’s election, as Russia’s war in Ukraine enters a new phase. 

Can the OSCE Survive the Ukraine War?

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson talk to Dr. Cornelius Friesendorf about the OSCE’s future in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The War in Ukraine Raises New Questions for EU Foreign Policy

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Europe’s gravest security crisis in decades – has prompted the EU to take unprecedented decisions on security, defence and EU enlargement. It is also starting to shape the EU’s external action more broadly, opening new questions for Brussels and member states.

Maintaining a Coalition in Support of Ukraine at the UN

The UN General Assembly has now passed two resolutions condemning Russia’s assault on Ukraine. But the majority is not as solid as it seems. Allies of Kyiv should pay more attention to the concerns of countries from the Global South.

Our People

Simon Schlegel

Senior Analyst, Ukraine
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