Update 22 March

22 mars, 2022

According to Ukrainian intelligence, Russia continue to face logistical issues as their ammunition stock is expected to last just three days. What exact ammunition this refers to cannot be verified. However, a change in Russian strategy – where ground troops dig in and wait for replenishment – can be expected. This is in line with that Russia has intensified its aerial presence in the last 24 hours.

On 21 March, due to heavy Russian shelling, a chemical plant in Sumy was hit. The incident was a reminder of the risk that industrial hazards pose during combat, as well as the threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapon usage in Ukraine. While the concerns remain, the growing intelligence regarding the likelihood of CBRN troops and weapons being deployed is generating fear in Ukraine. When Russian battlefield stagnation and the Kremlin’s unsubstantiated claims about the development of chemical and biological weapons by Ukraine have been taken into consideration, the possibility of CBRN usage in Ukraine, will be concerning in the coming weeks.

In the north, Ukrainian forces have counterattacked and seized the town of Makariv in the outskirts of Kyiv, according to Ukrainian intelligence. Over the past 24 hours, Russia has not launched any attacks around Kyiv, rather they have reinforced their defensive positions. It is likely that Russia will gradually encircle the city, rather than entering the city centre with ground troops, suggesting a long besiegement of the capital. In Sumy Oblast, roughly 300 Russian soldiers refused to carry out their orders and consequently left the area. The ammonia leak in Sumy remains a risk and residents are advised to stay indoors.

In the east, Kharkiv has been under intense bombardment over the past 24 hours; however, there have been limited Russian advances on the ground. More than 60 schools have been damaged by Russian shelling in Kharkiv; as with most Ukrainian cities, schools, hospitals, and other civilian infrastructure, are being continuously targeted by Russian shelling in Kharkiv. Russian shelling has continued in the Donbas region; however, there have been limited Russian advances. Images show how Russia and Russian backed separatist are using thermobaric weapons in the Donbas.

In the south, Mariupol continues to be under intense shelling and it is reported that Russian forces are making slow advances towards the city centre. In Kherson, demonstrators have been shot at, casualties have been reported. Ukraine’s counterattack against Russian forces around Mykolaiv continues to be successful. However, Russian shelling of the city continues, likewise, shelling has been reported in Odesa.

There have been limited developments in the west, there remains concerns that Russia and Belarus will launch an attack into north-western Ukraine; however, there are reports that saboteurs in Belarus are preventing such an operation and also preventing replenishment to Russian troops in Ukraine.

Developments in Russia

Meanwhile, Russian officials stated that Russia’s economy will not collapse due to the Western sanctions and the Kremlin has taken needed steps to support the Russian economy by providing extra allowance to high-tech sectors, agriculture and banking. According to the Ukrainian General Staff of Armed Forces’ claim, Russian tank and military equipment manufacturer Uralvagonzavod had suspended its operations due to the imposed sanctions against the country.

On 21 March, the US technology company Meta was found guilty of extremist activity by the Russian court therefore social media platforms Facebook and Instagram were banned in Russia with court’s decision. However, the messaging platform WhatssApp was excluded from the ban. According to the Russian lawyers, purchasing Facebook and Instagram advertisements could be considered as financial extremism in the country.

International reactions

As a part of fifth package of sanctions against Russia, the EU is considering an embargo on Russian oil especially after heavy shelling by Russian forces in the Ukrainian city Mariupol. While Poland and the Baltic States are the most active supporters of this measure, Germany and Hungary are more opposed to it. However, according to intelligence reports, Germany, which is the European country most dependent on Russian oil, has concluded a long-term energy deal with Qatar. Besides, Russian officials announced that Gazprom will continue the supply of natural gas to Europe via Ukraine as normal and the amount is estimated as 108 million cubic meters.

BNP Paribas, a French based international banking group, and the Danish shipping company Maersk were added to the companies that suspended their operations in Russia.

Humanitarian and Migration Developments

The latest figures from UNHCR show that almost 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on 24 February. Poland has carried the weight of almost 2.1 million refugees. Warsaw is one of the busiest cities in Poland with Ukrainian refugee traffic. Currently Warsaw holds more than 300,000 refugees and the capital’s actual population is roughly 1.8 million. Warsaw’s mayor announced that the city is on the brink as refugees continue to arrive and added the city cannot hold more people into its system as the city has already reached its limits.

Ukraine officials announced that 12 million people are displaced within Ukraine. While Russian attacks continue, more people will be forced to leave their homes, as well as the country. Given the numbers, it is expected that figures of Ukrainian refugees will be much higher in Sweden, as well as other European countries.

In the last week, Russian troops targeted many civilian residential areas and infrastructures in several Ukrainian cities. Hospitals, schools and community centres, which were using as a shelter for civilians were hit as well. At the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador denied targeting Ukrainian civilians despite the attacks. Increasing systemic targeting of civilians and deliberate attacks by Russian forces create controversy with their main argument that Kremlin has advocated.

Do you want to gain a deeper understanding of how the current situation in Eastern Europe will affect your company?
Contact Dominic Bowen at our international desk

Kontakta mig