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.
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.
Heavy fighting persisted in Donetsk as Russian forces captured Soledar, Western allies ramped up military support, and Zelenskyy dismissed senior officials in anti-corruption sweep.
Fighting continued in eastern Donetsk region as Ukraine withdrew from Soledar. Ukrainian artillery 1 Jan attacked Russian military base in occupied Makiyivka city. Russian defence ministry 4 Jan admitted that 89 soldiers had been killed, highest number of deaths it has acknowledged since full-scale invasion; Russian military bloggers criticised Russian planning and logistics. Russian paramilitary Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin 11 Jan claimed his troops had fully captured Soledar town just north of embattled Bakhmut town. Claim appeared premature and fighting continued, but Kyiv 25 Jan admitted its troops had pulled out, marking Russia’s first major battlefield advance since July 2022; loss of Soledar further complicates Ukraine’s defence of Bakhmut. Heavy fighting continued elsewhere in Donetsk, with British intelligence 31 Jan warning of “concerted” Russian assault on Vuhledar coal-mining town. Meanwhile, Russia continued targeting critical infrastructure, notably killing 11 people on 26 Jan.
Ukraine secured major breakthroughs in Western military support. France 4 Jan announced plans to equip Ukraine with armoured AMX-10 RC combat vehicles. Germany next day said it would provide around 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles while U.S. said it would deliver 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles. UK became first western nation to pledge supply of main battle tanks, 19 Jan announcing “Tallinn Pledge”, military aid package coordinated with Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic. Germany 25 Jan announced it would send Leopard 2 tanks amid mounting international pressure; hours later, U.S. declared it would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks. Russia same day said decision takes conflict “to a new level of confrontation”.
Zelenskyy cracked down on corruption. President Zelenskyy 22 Jan dismissed senior official Vasyl Lozynskiy following his arrest on embezzlement charges. Days later, Zelenskyy 24 Jan dismissed over a dozen senior officials, saying state “will be cleaned up”. Meanwhile, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych 17 Jan resigned after wrongly claiming Ukrainian air defence had shot down Russian missile that killed 45 civilians in Dnipro city on 14 Jan.
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.
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 actu...
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...
Having watched how the Russians fight wars over the years, this is nowhere close to all they can do.
The UN General Assembly has been a notable barometer of international opinion about Russia’s war in Ukraine since it began. With the one-year marker approaching, Kyiv can secure a diplomatic victory in New York with a resolution that affirms principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In this video, Simon Schlegel speaks about Russia's attacks against Ukraine's power supply, his personal experience living through it and what the West can do to help.
Russia’s war in Ukraine is taking a terrible toll. The Western response nonetheless remains the right one. NATO capitals should continue supporting Kyiv, while avoiding direct conflict with Moscow and keeping the door open to talks.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Olga Oliker, Crisis Group’s Europe-Central Asia director, about the war in Ukraine, what the winter months might hold, prospects for diplomacy and NATO policy.
Relentless attacks are cutting off power, heat and water. Civilians will need the west’s help to survive the winter
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson talk with Brian Milakovsky, an expert on economic development in eastern Ukraine, to take a closer look at Russia’s occupation of territories in the Donbas and what’s next for residents of areas now liberated by Ukraine.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks with Olga Oliker, Crisis Group’s Europe and Central Asia director, about the latest escalation in Ukraine, as Russian airstrikes batter multiple Ukrainian cities.
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