It has gone more than a week since Russia launched its first attack on Kyiv. The capital remains in the hands of the Ukrainian armed forces and the swift operation that Putin hoped for, has not gone according to plan. However, Russia is slowly taking over more land and is gradually gaining control of the conflict, albeit at a high price.
On 03 March, several Ukrainian cities were attacked and four huge explosions hit Kyiv. Russian forces has also seized the north-eastern city of Kharkiv and surrounded the port city of Mariupol. In the early hours of 04 March morning, Russian troops seized Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia. Yesterday, Kherson, a port city in Southern Ukraine, was ceded to Russian control. 400 kilometres east, the city of Mariupol is encircled by Russian forces. So too are several other cities, experiencing power cuts, lack of food, lack of water, lack of medical aid.
On March 03, the second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine ended, and the parties agreed on the establishment of humanitarian corridors so civilians can safely leave combat zones. However, the governor of Mariupol says that it is not possible for residents to leave the constantly shelled city. Russia in the meantime has declared that their military action will continue until they achieve the goal of a ”demilitarization of Ukraine”. The third round of talks will, according to the Russian side, take place early next week since no solution to a de-escalation of the war is in sight.
There is intelligence that Russia is planning an amphibious assault on Odessa, effectively making Ukraine a landlocked country. Just outside Odessa, an Estonian cargo ship sunk after reportedly hitting a mine.
It is estimated that over a million of civilians have now fled Ukraine and Europe is preparing for a new migrant crisis. Yesterday, the EU enforced ‘The Temporary Protection Directive’ for the first time in its history, allowing Ukrainian’s refuge in Europe.
Outside of Ukraine, the “de-facto” conflict between Russia and the West is intensifying. New sanctions are being imposed by the West and many Western companies are terminating their operations in Russia as a result. The cultural world is also shunning Russia for its actions in Ukraine. Several sporting institutions, there among FIFA and IOC, have banned Russia from participating in its events. Some experts fear though that attacking Russia’s soft power will have negative repercussions, as this is an attack on the Russian people, rather than the Russian state.
Russia is also imposing sanctions on the West. Société Générale, one of the largest European banks operating in Russia, issued a warning that Russian authorities are planning to strip the bank of its operations in Russia.
On March 3, a 90-minute phone call was held between the French president, Macron, and Russian president, Putin, regarding the war in Ukraine. After the talk, Macron stated that nothing reassuring had been said by Putin and that ”the worst is yet to come”, indicating that Putin will continue the war until the whole of Ukraine is under Russian control. After the call, Macron also indicated that they will stay in contact with the Russian president.