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 intensified attacks in Donetsk region as Ukraine targeted occupied left-bank of Dnipro river, key allies promised more military aid, and European Commission recommended accession talks.
Russian forces made small gains in east and escalated airstrikes. In Donetsk region, Russia stepped up attacks around Bakhmut city and Avdiivka town, making modest gains at high cost. In Odesa region, Russian missile 9 Nov hit freight ship in Odesa port, killing one in first strike on civilian vessel since withdrawal from Black Sea grain deal. Authorities 26 Nov said Russia had conducted one of largest drone attacks since war began, notably targeting capital Kyiv, with over 75 Iranian-made drones injuring five and damaging infrastructure.
Ukraine stepped up attacks across Dnipro river and continued targeting Crimea. Russian military bloggers 6 Nov reported Ukraine had transferred armoured vehicles across Dnipro River into bridgeheads on Russian-held left bank in southern Kherson region. In following days, troops managed to expand bridgeheads and Kyiv 15 Nov claimed foothold; Russia-installed Kherson governor same day admitted Ukrainian gains but promised reversal. In Russian-annexed Crimea, Ukrainian missile 4 Nov damaged under-construction missile carrier in port city of Kerch; Russian officials 26 Nov claimed its air defence averted several Ukrainian drone attacks on occupied Crimea and Moscow.
U.S. and Germany pledged more military assistance. U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin 20 Nov visited Kyiv, announcing new military aid package and promising continued support, even as worries grew over approval of further spending in U.S. Congress and supply capacity amid Israel-Hamas war (see Israel/Palestine). German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius 21 Nov announced €1.3bn military aid package during Kyiv visit; France 29 Nov announced intention to sign bilateral defence accord with Kyiv in early 2024.
European Commission recommended accession talks, tensions with EU neighbours rose. European Commission 8 Nov recommended accession negotiations with Ukraine; Hungarian PM Orbán 18 Nov said Ukraine was “light-years away” from membership, signalling intent to block proceedings. Meanwhile, Polish lorry drivers 6 Nov began blockade of border crossings, alleging EU suspension of entry permits for Ukrainian truckers had created unfair competition; after traffic diverted to Slovakia, Slovak border guards 15 Nov increased checks.
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.