In the last few months, the Russian army has suffered a series of reversals and Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with a mass mobilisation of soldiers and attacks on core Ukrainian energy infrastructure. The political and military rationale for these attacks appears to be to seek to undermine Ukraine’s morale, a strategy that draws on Russian military practice in other recent armed conflicts (in Syria, Libya and Mali). By seeking to create a form of ‘state failure’ the aim seems to be to undermine Ukraine’s democratic institutions. These attacks on critical infrastructure are producing power and water shortages in Kyiv and other major Ukrainian towns and cities. Ukraine now faces a major winter crisis with freezing temperatures
At an emergency conference in Paris to coordinate infrastructure and humanitarian aid over the next four months, more than €1 billion was pledged by 46 countries and 24 international organisations. The money will be split between restoring Ukraine’s depleted energy network, the food sector, water supply, health and transportation.
Russia has fired more than 1,000 rockets and missiles at Ukraine’s power grid, and in the wake of such strikes, Ukraine is requesting Patriot missiles batteries and other modern air defence systems—a call that seems to have been heeded with the United States said to be finalising plans to send the Patriot missile defence system to Ukraine. Although US intelligence expects a “reduced tempo” in fighting over the winter months, heavy fighting has continued in recent weeks in eastern and southern Ukraine, mainly in regions that Russia illegally annexed in September. The epicentre of the fighting has been the town of Bakhmut where Russian forces have been struggling for six months to make minimal progress. Meanwhile, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed concerns that the fighting in Ukraine could spin out of control and become a war between Russia and NATO. “If things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong”, he said in remarks to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
Read more in the attached pdf on: Ukrainian counter-attacks on Russian territory; stalled diplomacy; prisoner exchanges; Western military and financial assistance to Ukraine; military support to Russia from Iran and North Korea; the G7 oil price cap on Russia; the humanitarian consequences of the armed conflict; continuing concerns about nuclear facilities; the risk of nuclear weapon use; investigations into alleged war crimes; sanctions against Russia; international food security and Ukrainian grain exports; energy security in Europe; other developments in Russia and Ukraine; and developments within NATO.