Fighting in Ukraine continues without any significant breakthrough for the Russian forces. According to the British Government, Ukraine’s air defence has had considerable success against Russian aircraft. In the north, the Russian column outside Kyiv remains at a standstill and the Russian military is struggling to organise a major breakthrough. Ukraine’s army has reiterated that its troops are “firmly holding positions” around Kyiv. However, Russian troops are continuing to advance east of Kyiv; and as Russia is facilitating the evacuation of civilians from the capital, it is likely that Russia is planning a full-scale invasion of Kyiv. The logistical challenges that have contribute to Russian delays will likely be resolved in the coming days.
In the east, although fighting continues around Kharkiv, the local governor has stressed that all Russian attempts to invade the city have been repelled. Russian advances in the Donbas region have not been significant; however, in southern Donbas the city of Mariupol remains encircled by Russian forces. As temperatures are expected to drop throughout Ukraine, there are grave concerns for the displaced civilians – especially in the heavily shelled east of Ukraine where electricity and other essential services have ceased.
In southern Ukraine, Russian forces remain in control of Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear plant. Russian attacks on Mykolaiv continue as Russian forces move closer to the strategically important power plant. In Odessa, Ukrainian’s are preparing for a Russian attack. Western Ukraine has seen relatively little Russian military action in the last 24 hours.
The majority of the world continues to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and continuing to retaliate with sanctions against Russia. The US and the UK will stop all imports of Russian oil. Meanwhile the EU have excluded three Belarusian banks from the SWIFT international payment system. More Russian elites are being sanctioned and the Russian maritime sector will also face restrictions. In Europe, there are concerns that Russia will retaliate by limiting gas exports to Europe, which would create a financial crisis in Russia. More international businesses are halting operations in Russia, including Ferrari, Netflix, Rolex, McDonalds, and Coca Cola.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has announced that Sweden will not be joining NATO, as the Government’s assessment is that this would escalate tensions. Sweden’s decision is an indication of the significant success of Russian deterrence efforts against Sweden joining NATO. Like most European countries, Sweden will make investments in defence in the near future.
Cyber security developments
We understand that Yantar, a Russian ship spy that is capable of deploying small submersibles vessels designed to tamper with undersea internet and communications cables, left its base in Murmansk two days ago. The Russian Ministry of Digital Development has ordered all telecommunications businesses to insulate their networks from the internet, move all resources to the .ru domain, use Russian-based servers, and remove foreign-sourced Java Code. It is likely that Russia is continuing to protect itself from cyber-attacks emerging from outside of Russia, whilst at the same time continuing its cyber activities against state and non-state actors. Whilst the recent deployment of the Russian spy ship and the deadline of insulating Russian infrastructure from the world wide internet by 15 March does not indicate an imminent large scale attack, it will strengthen Russia’s position to conduct more assertive cyber activities.
Given the interventions of hack-activist groups, such as Anonymous, attacking Russian and Belarusian websites and the possible cyber-attacks that Russia may carry out against Western countries, the risk of businesses not directly linked to the Russia-Ukraine conflict being disrupted by ’indirect’ or supply chain cyber-attacks has also increased.
Migration and humanitarian developments
As of 08 March, according to the Office the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report civilian casualties in Ukrainian war increased to 1,335 people which includes a total of 474 killed and a total of 861 injured. Almost six percent of the casualties are children.
Since 24 February, a total of 2,011,312 people have sought refuge outside of Ukraine. For people who have fled the war, EU countries will grant residence and working rights. Since its introduction in 2001, this is the first time the EU will use the ‘temporary protection’ mechanism. The emergency mechanism aims supporting to ‘displaced people who are no longer in a position to live’ in their own country. The temporary protection rights will be initially guaranteed for one year and could be extended for up to three years depending on the situation in Ukraine. The estimation on the number of people who will be fleeing the war is increasing while the situation deteriorates.