Russia has intensified shelling of major Ukrainian cities and has launched its most deadly attack on western Ukraine, near the Polish border. On 13 March, Yavoriv International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security – 35 kilometres outside of Lviv – was targeted by Russian cruise missiles, killing 35 and wounding 134 people. Several air raid sirens were recorded across Lviv Oblast during the overnight hours, local time, of 14 March.
In the north of Ukraine, on 12 March heavy shelling destroyed Vasylkiv Air base in southwestern Kyiv. Areas in north-west of Kyiv continue to experience the most significant hostilities. Intelligence sources indicate that Russian troops may be moving to encircle the capital to cut it off from reinforcements. The encirclement of Kyiv is expected to create a new situation similar to Mariupol city. Additionally, the power supply to the Chernobyl plant was restored on 13 March. As of 14 March, Russian troops have moved into a defensive position near Kyiv and have set up checkpoints on key routes around the city. Airstrike and shelling were reported in Buchansky district of Kyiv region.
In the east, during the night of 13 March, multiple shelling rounds were recorded in Kharkiv. In Donetsk, Russian shelling damaged the infrastructure of a children’s healthcare centre and a major Orthodox Christian monastery. Meanwhile, in Luhansk, Ukrainian armed forces bombardment damaged a hospital.
In southern Ukraine, on 13 March, shortages of gas, electricity, food, heating, medicine and water were reported throughout the Kherson region. Mariupol continues to be besieged and surrounded by Russian troops and several air raid alarms were recorded in Odesa in the early hours of 14 March. Ukrainian officials believe that Russian forces are planning to encircle Odesa from Mykolaiv Oblast and Transnistria, the separatist state of Moldova.
Developments in Russia
On 13 March in Russia 918 people were arrested in 37 different cities for conducting anti-war protests, 451 people were detained in Moscow and at least 150 in St. Petersburg.
Russian Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov, has declared that almost half of the Russian Central Bank’s gold and foreign exchange reserves are temporarily frozen as a result of the imposition of Western sanctions on the country.
The fourth round of talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations will be held virtually on 14-15 March.
Western powers are continuing to deliberate on sanctions against Russia. The G7 countries have agreed to strip Russia of its “Most Favoured Nation” status and impose punitive tariffs. This sends a strong signal that Russia is not regarded as an economic partner and that trade will become more expensive – in the US, the border tax will increase by approximately 10 times the current rate of three percent. The UK and Canada have also imposed further sanctions on Russian elites.
There are reports that China might support Russia with military equipment; in a bid to persuade China not to, the US has threatened that there will be harsh consequences – most likely in the form of sanctions. If China were to get involved in the conflict – by supporting Russia financially and with equipment – there is a heightened risk that the West and China will be in trade wars with one another. Such a scenario would be devastating for Western economies, as China is the EU’s largest trading partner.
Migration and humanitarian developments
As of 14 March, according to UNHCR, over 2,7 million Ukrainian refugees have left Ukraine due to escalating attacks in the entire country. UN refugee agency estimated that Poland has received the highest group of Ukrainian refugees recording more than 1,6 million. Alongside with the bordering countries, other European countries, UK and Canada are receiving Ukrainians who have fled the war-zone. Canada will be preparing to arrange special flights from Poland for Ukrainian refugees who wish to seek refuge in Canada.
Evacuation of refugees from Lviv to Poland is also being provided by free bus services. In almost all border checkpoints between Ukraine and neighbouring countries, border crossing waiting times are continually decreasing, the longest waiting times are recorded in Polish border checkpoints compared to other border countries.
According to UN reports, between 24 February and 13 March, at least 1,663 civilian casualties were recorded. The actual figures are expected to be considerably higher especially in the regions that are under partially or fully Russian control.