Security Exchange News

Ukraine Situational Report | 30 September 2022

30 September 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to host a signing ceremony in Moscow on Friday, at which he will make a major speech at the Kremlin, announcing the annexation of four more areas of Ukraine, declaring them to be ‘independent’. The development is a major escalation in the conflict and comes after self-styled referendums - condemned by Ukraine and the West as a sham - were conducted in occupied territories earlier this week. The votes were held in Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, and in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south, with Russian-backed officials claiming almost total popular support despite reports of voters being intimidated by military personnel. In presidential decrees issued late on Thursday, Putin stated: “I order the recognition of the state sovereignty and independence” of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Both Donetsk and Luhansk have already been declared independent by Moscow, in a controversial move which preceded the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 23 September 2022

23 September 2022

As Ukraine’s counteroffensive efforts continue to battle Russian forces for control of occupied territory, two key developments have dominated headlines this week. In a rare, televised address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to call up military reservists to fight with the Russian war effort in Ukraine. The news has been accompanied by statements from the Kremlin accusing the West of inaccurately portraying the apparent successes of the Ukrainian counteroffensive and insisting the Russian forces in Ukraine are holding ground. Meanwhile, plans to stage referendums in Russian-held parts of Ukraine on joining Russia have been accelerated, sparking international outcry.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 16 September 2022

16 September 2022

Major gains have apparently been made in the east and south of Ukraine amid a swift counter-offensive, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claiming Ukrainian troops have retaken more than 8,000 square kilometres so far this month – Kyiv’s most significant territorial gains since the war started. While swathes of territory have reportedly been retaken in the eastern Kharkiv region, a separate Ukrainian counterattack continues to press on in the southern Kherson region, although troop advances have been comparatively slower to make substantial progress. Ukrainian citizens have reportedly been celebrating the liberation of occupied areas, as Ukraine’s counteroffensive marks a new phase of the war; however, celebrations have been marred by emerging evidence of the severely damaging impact of Russian occupation on many villages and residents, sparking fresh allegations of Russian war crimes.

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Hopes Fade Over Nuclear Talks

14 September 2022

Hopes for the latest attempt to restore the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers appear to be fading. The UK, France and Germany have questioned Iran’s commitment to the talks, claiming that its demands were preventing talks from resuming in the Austrian capital, Vienna. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IEAE) said that Iran’s nuclear stockpiles were increasing, and it could not verify whether Tehran’s nuclear programme was exclusively for civilian purposes.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 9 September 2022

09 September 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed “good news” amid developments in the last week, as Ukraine’s eastern advance reportedly sees progress. Zelenskyy claims Ukrainian troops have successfully recaptured settlements in the eastern Kharkiv region, although no specific details regarding which areas had been retaken have been released. The apparent success comes after similarly vague reports of limited progress being made amid the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the southern occupied Kherson region. Meanwhile, Russian occupying forces aim to hold a vote on annexation in early November. News of the planned vote comes as Kyiv claims responsibility for a series of explosive attacks targeting Russian bases in Crimea – confirming the expansion of the war in Ukraine to the annexed region.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 2 September 2022

02 September 2022

Ukraine is bracing to launch a major counter-offensive in the east of the country, as another offensive to retake the occupied Kherson region in the south also gets underway. Fierce fighting has been increasingly reported throughout Kherson; however, observers suggest progress in the region will neither be fast nor easy for Ukrainian troops in light of a determined Russian defence. Meanwhile, an investigation team deployed by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has reached the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant this week, with preliminary findings from an initial inspection appearing to back concerns over a heightened risk of nuclear disaster amid claims of increased fighting in the surrounding area.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 26 August 2022

26 August 2022

This week saw Ukraine observe a muted Independence Day on Wednesday, marking 31 years since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union. The day also marked six months since Russia launched its military invasion of Ukraine. Kyiv issued clear warnings ahead of the anniversary: Violent Russian military attacks were anticipated, targeting civilian infrastructure. Russia has continually denied targeting civilian infrastructure throughout the war; however, on Wednesday 24 August, a Russian missile strike hit Chaplyne railway station in Dnipropetrovsk, killing at least 25 people. Meanwhile, major international concern has been triggered by the temporary disconnection of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from Ukraine’s national grid.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 19 August 2022

19 August 2022

Intense shelling has been reported across parts of the Donetsk region over the past week, with increased fighting affecting frontline areas, such as Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Sloviansk. There has been a distinctive increase in clashes along the frontline in Donetsk, while Ukraine and Russia continue to trade accusations amid increasing tensions in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia – where Europe’s largest nuclear power plant site remains under extreme pressure amid new reports of shelling in the immediate and surrounding area. The Crimean Peninsula has also seen further explosions hit Russian military facilities, leading to heightened tensions in the region.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 12 August 2022

11 August 2022

Major developments in Ukraine over the past week include fatal shelling near Europe’s largest operational nuclear site - located in Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine’s central Zaporizhzhia region - which has raised concerns over insecurity and allegations of misuse of the Enerhodar nuclear plant, and a deadly explosion at a Russian military airbase in the annexed Crimea Peninsula, which has drawn attention to the peninsula’s integral role in the origins of Russia’s war in Ukraine. In a statement delivered to press this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for the liberation of Crimea, in a move indicative of Ukraine’s bolstered determination to launch successful counteroffensives.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 5 August 2022

05 August 2022

Russian and pro-Russian forces continue to pursue efforts to realise their main operational objective of taking control of the largely Russian-speaking Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, comprised of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces. The last week has seen the frontline face increasing pressure in Donetsk, with both sides claiming to have captured more territory. A key grain export deal, brokered by Turkey and the UN, has seen the first few grain ships leave Ukrainian ports, signalling cause for optimism amid heightened concerns surrounding the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine on an emerging global food crisis.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 29 July 2022

29 July 2022

Moscow has been carrying out increasingly deadly strikes across wider parts of Ukraine, targeting parts of central and south-western regions in major attacks. In the central city of Kropyvnytsky, a Russian missile strike killed five people, while at least 15 casualties were reported following a missile strike on a Ukrainian military base north of Kyiv. The ramped up Russian strikes come as Kyiv has stepped up its efforts to retake the occupied southern Kherson region. Meanwhile, Moscow claims 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war have been killed in a Ukrainian strike on a prison in occupied Donetsk.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 22 July 2022

22 July 2022

Fighting in the Donetsk region continues as Russian forces advance eastwards; however, Russia’s progress has stalled somewhat in recent days, following failed offensives east of Bakhmut and Sloviansk in the Donetsk region. Ukrainian forces have seen some success in repelling assaults, although Russian strikes have increasingly begun to target key infrastructure, including power supply in the city of Kramatorsk, and the country’s second-biggest power plant north-east of Donetsk. Russian artillery assaults remain concentrated on Kramatorsk and Siversk. Meanwhile, international developments have seen details of another EU sanctions package on Russia announced, while a deal has been reached on Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea.

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Ukraine Situational Report | 15 July 2022

15 July 2022

Developments in Ukraine over the past week have seen a major escalation in Russia’s offensive as Moscow continues to build up troops and equipment near the frontline in Donetsk and Luhansk. Russian missile strikes have been conducted with increased frequency and range, with cities far from the frontline coming under fire. At least 23 confirmed fatalities have been reported after three Russian missiles hit an office building in the central city of Vinnytsia. The strike has sparked international outcry, with Kyiv labelling it an “open act of terrorism”.

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Ukraine Situational Report | 8 July 2022

08 July 2022

Russia’s recent capture of Lysychansk has seen Moscow’s forces take a firmer hold of the Luhansk region, and throughout the past week, the main focus of the Russian military objective in the eastern Donbas region has shifted towards Sloviansk, and its twin city of Kramatorsk, in Donetsk. Moscow has warned Kyiv and its Western allies that Russian troops have yet to launch their full military campaign in Ukraine with all their strength – a message to which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded with defiance in his nightly address on Thursday, warning the Kremlin that Ukraine would not be broken.

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Ukraine Situational Report | 1 July 2022

01 July 2022

The last week of war reporting has been marked by a series of significant developments both on the ground in Ukraine, and on the international stage, as a major NATO summit wraps up in Madrid. While Lysychansk in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas faces increasing Russian bombardment, Russian strikes have also targeted areas in the Sumy and Odessa regions. The Black Sea and the issue of food exports has also been at the fore recently, and in an unusual turn of events, Russian troops have been withdrawn from Ukraine’s Snake Island, sparking speculation over the circumstances and motive behind Moscow’s retreat from the Black Sea area.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 24 June 2022

24 June 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has escalated in recent weeks, with the focus of the main Russian offensive now predominantly on the ongoing battle for the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the eastern Luhansk region. As Ukrainian forces retreat from Severodonetsk, the fate of Lysychansk has become more and more dependent on artillery strength, as Russian forces capture more towns south of the city, threatening to encircle it. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has again re-iterated urgent appeals for high-artillery weapons and ammunition to be sent to Ukraine by Western allies. On Thursday, Zelenskyy hailed a decision by the EU to make a historic offer of candidacy status to Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 17 June 2022

17 June 2022

Russian forces have continued to bear down on the eastern city of Severodonetsk in Luhansk over the past week. The war in eastern Ukraine has evolved following the fall of Mariupol in the south, leading to Russian forces refortifying in the northern parts of the Donbas region, where they have since geared up to take large swathes of territory around Severodonetsk. Located along the eastern banks of the Siverskyi Donets River, opposite its western twin – Lysychansk - the city of Severodonetsk has now become the pivotal in the fate of the rest of the region, as both sides battle for control. The last of a handful of key access bridges connecting Severodonetsk to the rest of Ukraine was destroyed amid fighting this week, isolating the Ukrainian fighters in the city, and potentially tipping the scales in Moscow’s favour.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 10 June 2022

10 June 2022

This week, the eastern city of Severodonetsk, and its twin city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region have been at the forefront of the battle between the Ukrainian forces and the Russian forces fighting in Donbas. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the intense fighting there as decisive for the rest of the contested region, where Russian forces and Russian-backed separatists have taken swathes of territory in recent months. In other developments, two British nationals and a Moroccan national who fought alongside Ukrainian forces and were captured by Moscow have recently been handed death sentences by a Russian proxy court, sparking international controversy – quelling fears of the West losing interest in the conflict as the war drags on, entering its fourth month.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 27 May 2022

27 May 2022

The past week has seen a significant escalation of Russian military operations in the eastern Donbas region. The twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, located on either side of the Siverskyi Donets river, have suffered extremely heavy bombardment in recent days. The mayor of Severodonetsk, Oleksandr Stryuk, said that at least 1,500 people have been killed in the city since the start of the Russian invasion and that 60 percent of residential buildings have been destroyed. He said that around 12,000 people remain trapped in the city and the options for evacuations are extremely limited. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that the Russians are likely to completely encircle the twin cities in the coming days. Russian-backed separatists also claim to have taken control of the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region; although this has not yet been verified, Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, appeared to concede that Lyman had fallen to pro-Russian forces.

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Ukraine Situation Report | 20 May 2022

20 May 2022

The UN warned this week that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could lead to a global food crisis that could last for years due to worsening food insecurity triggered by rising prices. As one of Europe’s biggest global exporters of food and agricultural goods, Russia’s strategy of cutting off Ukraine’s access to southern Black Sea ports has led to reduced global supply, causing prices to soar. The UN claims that the crisis could still be averted through talks. The warning comes as Western allies continue to rally together in solidarity against Russia’s ‘military operation’ in Ukraine, with Washington reopening its embassy in Kyiv. Meanwhile, the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol has fallen to Russian forces after Kyiv declared an end to the Azovstal steelworks evacuation. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed to retake captured areas in the south, including the occupied cities of Kherson, Melitopol, Berdiansk, Enerhodar and Mariupol.

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