Update 48: Russia's war with Ukraine

8 July 2023

Five hundred days after Russia’s full-scale invasion, its attacks on Ukrainian cities continue, while Ukraine’s much anticipated counteroffensive slowly advances. Ukrainian troops went on the attack at multiple points along the frontline in the Donetsk region on 5 June, driving back Russian forces in at least two areas in what appeared to be the preliminary stages of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine has enough weapons to begin its counteroffensive, and the operation will give the country the victory it needs to join NATO. However, membership of NATO remains unlikely until after the end of active hostilities. The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, said on 1 July that Ukraine’s counteroffensive “is going to take six, eight, 10 weeks, it’s going to be very difficult. It’s going to be very long, and it’s going to be very, very bloody. And no one should have any illusions about any of that”. Ukrainian forces are advancing “slowly but surely” on the frontlines in the east and south-east of the country as well as around the longstanding flashpoint of Bakhmut, senior military officials have said.

Heavy casualties were being reported by both Ukrainian and Russian forces. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on 14 June that alliance members must ensure Ukraine keeps getting enough arms to pursue its counteroffensive, but warned, “It is still early days and we do not know if this will be a turning point”. President Putin claimed on 13 June that Ukrainian losses are near “catastrophic” and that the counterattack had not been successful in any area. The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Col Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi said on 23 June that the main force of his offensive reserve was yet to be committed into battle with Russia, while President Zelensky said in a TV interview broadcast on 5 July that slow weapons deliveries to Ukraine delayed Kyiv’s planned counteroffensive, allowing Russia to bolster its defences.

Despite growing calls for an end to the war, diplomacy remains stalled. Several recent developments indicate the war could instead be expanding beyond Ukraine’s borders. Russia has begun deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, while pro-Ukrainian fighters from Russia have attacked sites in the Russian region of Belgorod. In addition to these cross-border raids drone attacks inside Russia have increased, although Ukraine almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia. Moreover, the ongoing risk of escalation (and inadvertent consequences) of the war were highlighted by two recent events: the destruction of the Nova Kakhova dam and the short-lived Wagner Group insurrection. The humanitarian and ecological toll from the destruction of the dam is massive and mounting, while the repercussions from the Wagner mutiny remain uncertain.

For further details read the attached pdf



Destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam

The Wagner rebellion

Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure

Ukrainian attacks inside Russia and Crimea

The G7 Summit

Ukraine’s NATO membership application

Stalled diplomacy

Military and financial assistance to Ukraine and Russia

Humanitarian consequences of the war

Continuing concerns over nuclear power plants

Further reading:

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

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