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

South remained epicentre of fighting as Russia intensified attacks on Odesa region and Ukraine’s counteroffensive continued at slow pace; Kyiv sought to drum up support for peace plan during well-attended summit in Saudi Arabia.

Russian withdrawal from grain deal brought more fighting to Odesa region. After scuppering Black Sea grain deal, Moscow intensified air raids on port infrastructure and grain facilities along Black Sea coast and Danube River in Odesa region. Notably, Russian drone 2 Aug destroyed port administration building in Izmail city; military 23 Aug said drones targeted “grain storage facilities and production complex in Danube region”. Russia continued to strike cities elsewhere; notably, missile hit theatre in Chernihiv city 19 Aug, killing at least seven. Kyiv, meanwhile, stepped up drone attacks on Russia (see Russia) and Russian-controlled territory, including massive attack 25 Aug on Russian-annexed Crimea.

Ukrainian counteroffensive ground on slowly. Ukraine’s counteroffensive along southern front, which stretches across Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, continued to make incremental progress at high cost. Forces 16 Aug liberated Urozhaine village (Donetsk) and 28 Aug freed Robotyne village (Zaporizhzhia), pushing frontline closer toward road and rail hub of Tokmak city; neither advance broke through Russia’s main defensive lines. Senior NATO commanders mid-Aug reportedly urged Ukrainian Commander in Chief Gen. Zaluzhniy to concentrate forces on southern front rather than Donetsk, request which Ukrainians appeared to heed. Ukrainian forces 24 Aug raided Russian-annexed Crimea, briefly clashing with Russian forces and planting Ukrainian flag to mark country’s Independence Day. Meanwhile, Russian forces conducted operations near Kupiansk town (Kharkiv region), forcing authorities 10 Aug to issue evacuation order.

Saudi Arabia hosted dozens of nations for Ukraine talks. Kyiv gathered delegations from around 40 countries, including China and India but not Russia, in Saudi city of Jeddah 5-6 Aug to drum up support for peace plan; 7 Aug announced more extensive talks would follow in Autumn 2023.

In important domestic developments. President Zelenskyy 10 Aug announced govt is working on comprehensive framework document, which would lay foundation for “transformation of our state” in order to “win the war [without] losing the country”. Govt 18 Aug prolonged martial law and mobilisation for another 90 days.

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In The News

24 Jun 2023
If Russian soldiers feel their commanders are not in control, their trenches will be much easier to take for advancing Ukrainian troops. The Hill

Simon Schlegel

Senior Analyst, Ukraine
22 Feb 2023
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. Le Monde

Liesl Louw-Vaudran

Senior Adviser, African Union
20 Feb 2023
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. Newsweek

Oleg Ignatov

Senior Analyst, Russia
24 Jan 2023
Certainly, it makes no sense for Ukraine to offer any concessions now, when it has done well militarily and Russia is offering nothing. Foreign Affairs

Olga Oliker

Program Director, Europe and Central Asia

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Senior Analyst, Ukraine
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