Update 50: Russia's war with Ukraine

13 September 2023

In early June, Ukraine launched a long-anticipated, large-scale counteroffensive into Russian-controlled territory in the east and south of the country. Since then, however, progress on the ground or the lack of it has been mired in the fog of war, with contrasting opinions on whether it should be deemed a success or failure. Clearly, the offensive has gone slower than many of its overly optimistic advocates anticipated.

Despite the slow progress, the near universal enthusiasm for Ukraine’s battlefield prospects among Western policymakers, analysts and editorial writers in the mainstream media, retired generals, and other experts in the US and European foreign policy establishments has continued. A few critical voices see the situation rather differently. Rather than gathering pace, the likeliest ‘best case’ outcome of the counteroffensive is that Ukraine will only regain some limited amounts of occupied territory, but not enough to either threaten Russia with outright defeat or cause the collapse of Putin’s regime. A ‘worst case’ scenario could see Ukraine weakened and vulnerable to a new Russian offensive next year.

A negotiated end to the conflict could and should have been pursued earlier, but to further delay diplomacy makes little sense. The battlefield situation and humanitarian consequences are only likely to get worse for Ukraine. The damage too to the collective capacity for global governance at a time of multiple rising threats to social and economic stability must not be ignored. It is not just climate change negotiations that have been damaged by the strategic divisions between the great powers, but also the management of nuclear arsenals, efforts to address the loss of biodiversity, the risk of further pandemics and other challenges that will be on the agenda for next year’s Summit of the Future.

Diplomacy will require Kyiv and the West, as well as Moscow, to make concessions. Regrettably, however, there continues to be no diplomatic solution in sight, an attachment to a righteous binary struggle, and little political will among the protagonists or their backers to start negotiations.

Read more in the attached pdf.


Ukraine’s stalled counteroffensive: time for a renewed diplomatic offensive          

The collapse of the Black Sea grain agreement and a new theatre of war        

Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure      

Ukrainian attacks inside Russia and Crimea   

The Wagner Group and death of Yevgeny Prigozhin           

The risk of NATO’s direct involvement in the war                           


A new Ukrainian defence minister               

The G20 Summit                                          

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 energy security in Europe (and the Nord Stream attack)                                       

On China’s position on the war                 

On developments within Russia                  

On Ukraine’s NATO membership application                                                

On developments within NATO                  

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