For several months the war has involved nearly static frontlines and has now largely become a war of attrition. Russian forces still hold nearly a fifth of the country and Ukraine’s western allies continue to supply military and financial aid to Ukraine. Ukraine is expected to soon mount a counter-offensive with the aim of reclaiming all its occupied territory. There has been intense speculation about when and where the counter-attack could start. Kyiv faces a larger army that has been digging into its defensive positions for months, with the UK Ministry of Defence assessing that Russia has built “some of the most extensive systems of military defensive works seen anywhere in the world for many decades” in the areas it controls in Ukraine as well as in its own border regions. However, the discipline and motivation of the Russian forces is questioned by some western analysts.
Director of national intelligence in the Biden administration, Avril Haines, said on 4 May that Russian forces in Ukraine are so degraded they cannot mount any significant offensive moves and are focused for now on consolidating control of occupied territory, with the aim of prolonging the conflict until western support for Kyiv wanes. However, Russian missile and artillery attacks on civilian infrastructure have continued. On 8 May, Moscow launched another large-scale drone and missile attack on Ukraine, including 60 Iranian-made kamikaze drones, while Russian artillery attacks killed 21 civilians in Ukraine’s Kherson region on 3 May. A major wave of cruise missile strikes during 26-28 April caused multiple fatalities. In the central Ukrainian city of Uman, for example, 23 people, including six children, were killed in the missile strike. Ukraine’s air force claimed on 6 May to have downed a Russian hypersonic missile over Kyiv using newly acquired US Patriot defence systems, the first known time the country has been able to intercept one of Moscow’s most modern missiles.
Although Ukraine almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia and on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine, such attacks appear to be increasing.
Peace talks have remained stalled since March, with China’s position on the war becoming increasingly central to prospects for diplomacy. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he held a “long and meaningful” phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on 26 April, in their first known contact since Russia’s full-scale invasion more than a year ago. Xi told Zelensky that China would send special representatives to Ukraine and hold talks with all parties seeking peace, Chinese state media reported. The White House welcomed the call but said it was too soon to tell whether it would lead to a peace deal. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the discussion between the two leaders and acknowledged the possibility of the war ending at the “negotiating table”.
Read more in the attached pdf
The expected Ukrainian counter-offensive
Ukrainian attacks inside Russia and Crimea
The Pentagon leaks
Ukraine’s NATO membership application
Xi Jinping’s state visit to Moscow
Military and financial assistance to Ukraine and Russia
Humanitarian consequences of the war
Continuing concerns over nuclear power plants
On outcomes and consequences of the war
On the risk of nuclear war
On investigation of war crimes in Ukraine
On sanctions against Russia and post-war reconstruction in Ukraine
On the Black Sea grain agreement and global food security
On energy security in Europe (and the Nord Stream attack)
On China’s position on the war
On developments within Russia
On developments within NATO
On Finland and Sweden joining NATO