19 March 2023
As the war enters its 56th week both Kyiv and Moscow continued to be struggling with ammunition shortages and mounting casualties in the fight for Bakhmut. The prospects for peace talks remains low, although the Black Sea grain deal was renewed on 18 March. The conflict was in danger of further escalation after a US drone was downed by a Russian aircraft in the Black Sea area and the first pledges of combat aircraft to Ukraine were made by Poland and Slovakia. Meanwhile, an arrest warrant was issued for President Putin by the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
The UK Ministry of Defence said in its intelligence update on 14 March that Russian artillery ammunition shortages have probably worsened “to the extent that extremely punitive shell-rationing is in force on many parts of the front”, adding that it was almost certainly “a key reason why no Russian formation has recently been able to generate operationally significant offensive action”. A senior NATO official, cited by the Guardian, but speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that Russia is sustaining up to 1,500 casualties a day in its current offensive, mostly in the eastern city of Bakhmut.
On 14 March AFP journalists in Eastern Ukraine reported seeing white phosphorus fired from Russian positions on an uninhabited road leading to nearby Bakhmut. Weapons containing phosphorus are incendiary arms whose use against civilians is banned, but they can be deployed against military targets under a 1980 convention signed in Geneva.
Read more in the attached pdf on: the stalled diplomacy; military and financial assistance to Ukraine and Russia; the humanitarian consequences of the armed conflict; the risk of nuclear weapon use; investigations into alleged war crimes; sanctions against Russia; global food security; energy security in Europe; China’s position on the war; and developments in Ukraine, Russia and NATO, including tensions between Turkey and Sweden over the latter’s stalled NATO accession.