Update 23 March

23 mars, 2022

Russia has increased air and missile strikes against civilian and military targets across the unoccupied territory, moving into a phase of prolonged shelling of Ukrainian cities. On 22 March, Russian military forces did not make any major advances, only limited advances in Donbas. On the other hand, Ukrainian troops carried out local counterattacks north-west of Kyiv and surrounding Mykolaiv.

In the north, Ukrainian forces reportedly successfully retaken control of Makariv, west of Kyiv. According to the Kiev city administration, Russian shelling hit a shopping centre, a high-rise residential building and other civilian homes early 23 March, killing one and injuring at least three people. Russian bombs also hit a bridge connecting the cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv. According to Ukrainian authorities, heavy fighting is expected in the city of Boryspil, Kyiv Oblast, near Boryspil International Airport (KBP).

In eastern Ukraine, Russian forces focused their attacks on the towns of Izyum and Lozova, south of Kharkiv, targeting civilians’ buildings and industrial facilities on 22 March. Eight people were reportedly injured. In Luhansk Oblasts Russian forces conducted several attacks, especially in Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, Popasna, and Vugledar, reported as unsuccessful for the Ukrainian General Staff. In Donetsk Oblast, three individuals were killed and six injured by Russian shelling, according to Ukrainian authorities. On 22 March, Russian strikes also hit the Pavlograd central railroad station in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, killing one person.

In the south of Ukraine, as of 23 March, Russian forces continued to assault Mariupol, to shell residential areas and to reinforce artillery positions northeast of the city. An estimated 300,000 people still remain in Mariupol and 7,000 residents were evacuated to Zaporizhya on 22 March. The Odesa regional military administration stated that Russian forces fired five missiles at a settlement in the Odesa region on 22 March. However, the location of the target has not been revealed. In addition, the Ukrainian forces claimed to have attacked Russian navy deployed near Mariupol and Mykolaiv, which were planning to attack Odesa.

There have been limited advances in the west, where anti-aircraft sirens sounded in Lviv and Rivne Oblast on 22 March. Finally, the Ukrainian authorities have only claimed that Russian forces fired three missiles at a military installation in the Rivne region.

Developments in Russia

Russia’s inside war against opposition activists are also ongoing. On 22 March, Russian activist Alexei Navalny was sentenced to prison for nine years after he has been found guilty of fraud by the Court in Moscow. Additionally, Russian officials announced that a criminal investigation has started on a popular Russian journalist after the journalist released news about Russian forces’ shelling a maternity hospital in Mariupol.

Russian Deputy prime Minister Alexander Novak announced that Russia is considering the imposition of a ban on Uranium exports to the US as a response to the sanctions. Moreover, Russia continued to create unsubstantiated claims about the US-funded biolaboratories in Ukraine.

International Reactions

EU officials and US stated that they are discussing a new set of sanctions against Russia, as of 22 March. US and EU countries will be working on tightening the existing sanctions during the NATO and the EU summits that will be held in Brussels on 24 March. In the meanwhile, some Western reports claimed that the US is also preparing sanctions against 300 Russian lawmakers who work in the Russian State Duma. In eastern Europe, NATO heads of states called for a more proactive NATO military presence and response to Russian invasion in the NATO summit.

As another global power, China publicly stated that they will not provide financial or military support to Russia and promised for further humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Besides, Chinese authorities blamed the US for the war in Ukraine. Although Beijing is not actively supporting Russia in its war, China has not condemned Russia for its attack on Ukraine and has refused to call it an ‘invasion’.

Evacuations from Russia is still ongoing and the US Department of State have released a travel advisory for people who are planning to leave Russia due to the situation. The authorities advised the flights through the Middle east and Asian transit points by major airlines like Qatar Airways and FlyDubai. The government owned airline in Dubai, UAE called FlyDubai, have increased the number of flights from some Russian airports.

Russia-India Relations

India has remained focused on maintaining relationship with both the US and Russia as its foreign policy strategy. The country avoided to align any superpower completely due to its distrusts to both. Russia is still a major diplomatic partner for India and both countries have backed each other in the United Nations Security Council on resolutions about Kashmir and Ukraine issues. Besides the diplomatic support, Moscow and New Delhi are important trade partners. India has agreed to purchase oil from Russia and the agreement resulted in increase of oil exports nearly four times more than in 2021. Now, the Indian government is looking for possible rupee-ruble arrangements are exploring to ensure continuation of supply chain between Russia and India.

Surely, the strengthened relation between Moscow and New Delhi attracted the attention of key Western partners and increased the diplomatic pressure on India by the West. India is exploring new ways to reach bilateral agreements with both sides, while also avoiding violating Western sanctions on Russia. Swedish companies that have direct or indirect supply chain relations with India should therefore monitor India’s involvement with Russia. If the India-Russia collaboration continues, India could be exposed to further pressure from the West, including sanctions that affect India’s ability to trade with Western countries, affecting supply chains.

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