The situation in Ukraine:
From April 1 to May 2, 2022
The change in the tactical goals of the Russian Federation in Ukraine – the failure of a special operation to force the government of Ukraine to surrender and a temporary refusal to occupy the entire territory, concentrating on the capture of the southeastern regions of Ukraine. At the same time, the strategic goal remains - the military defeat of Ukraine and forcing the United States to a new divide of geopolitical zones of influence.
In early April, the Russian Federation completely withdrew its troops from the territory of the Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy regions and, partially, Kharkiv. This was a consequence of the fact that the Russian leadership overestimated the tactical goals of Ukraine. Most likely, the Russian Federation's initial strategy was to force the Ukrainian government to capitulate, an attempt to frighten the President of Ukraine and his team, to cause a political crisis - this is what the attack on Kyiv was used for. But after it became clear that the Ukrainian government would not capitulate, and the number of Russian troops near Kyiv was not enough to capture or encircle the capital, the Russian leadership had to change tactics.
Russia had to temporarily abandon the "idea of Minor Russia" - a Russified state on the territory of Ukraine, and return to the 2014 project - "Novorossiya" - an attempt to occupy the traditionally pro-Russian regions of the south and east of Ukraine, completely cutting off the country from maritime traffic. In the second half of April, the Russian Federation confirmed the start of the second phase of the offensive in Ukraine. It announced that they planned to establish complete control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine and provide a land corridor to the Crimea and Transnistria.
At the same time, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation did not achieve any significant achievements during the month in the South and South-East of Ukraine. There is no significant advancement at the front. The Donbas grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is not surrounded, despite the persistence of such risks. Such cities as Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kryvyi Rih, and Dnipro have not been captured, and the threat of their capture is relatively small today.
In general, the Russian Federation is conducting cautious offensive operations, mainly moving south towards Kurakhove and the city of Sloviansk by squeezing out the Armed Forces of Ukraine and capturing small settlements, bypassing well-fortified cities. North and northeast of Kharkiv. Ukrainian troops launched a counteroffensive and managed to restore control over several minor settlements by the end of the month.
The intensity of the Russian shelling of Ukrainian cities has increased. The targets of these strikes are logistics centers, fuel reserves, and routes for supplying foreign weapons to Ukraine.
Raising the risk of expanding the conflict zone to the border regions of Russia and Moldova, drawing other countries into it.
The fighting is gradually going beyond the territory of Ukraine. For a month, at least in three Russian regions bordering Ukraine - Bryansk, Kursk, and Belgorod regions, military operations were recorded using artillery, aviation, and the work of sabotage and reconnaissance groups.
The situation around Transnistria (the unrecognized "Pridnestrovian Moldavian People's Republic") is also gradually aggravating, with the possible involvement of Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, and the Russian Federation in the conflict.
Degradation of peace negotiations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
After the "Istanbul" proposals of Ukraine (a non-bloc status of Ukraine in exchange for the withdrawal of the RF Armed Forces) and counterproposals of the Russian Federation (low- compromise), the negotiation process degraded to the level of technical consultations. Moreover, the Ukrainian side decided to strengthen its negotiating positions after the "Istanbul proposals" by statements that negotiations with the Russian Federation do not make sense and Ukraine will only be satisfied with the surrender of the Russian Federation (S. Danilov, A. Arestovich, V. Prystaiko), Ukraine does not renounce NATO membership (R. Stefanchuk, I. Klympush-Tsintsadze, O. Stefanishina).
Until the end of the battle in the Donbas, the constructive negotiation process was put on hold. Based on the fight’s result, the parties will more accurately determine their positions. It is also evident that the scale of the Russian Federation's goal in Ukraine will depend on the course of hostilities expected in the South-East of Ukraine.
Regarding security guarantees, negotiations with potential guarantor countries of Ukraine are ongoing but do not yet have certain specifics.
A cardinal increase in assistance to Ukraine from the United States, NATO, and the EU is a course towards the military defeat of the Russian Federation.
For Ukraine, significant progress has been made in the past month regarding the supply of weapons. In the United States, the Lend-Lease Act has been passed, and now the transfer of firearms will be faster due to the reduction of bureaucratic procedures.
An anti-Russian military command is being formed in Ramstein, where restrictions on the supply of weapons to Ukraine have been lifted.
The country will also receive the necessary funding from the IMF, the G7, and individual countries in $60 billion per year (there will be no default on the national debt).
The pressure of Western countries on the Russian Federation continues to rise. In particular, the sanctions pressure on the Russian Federation is increasing. But the EU cannot yet come to a consensus on an embargo on gas and oil supplies from Russia. Some EU countries are gradually moving to a new formula for paying for Russian gas. The EU is preparing the sixth package of sanctions against the Russian Federation concerning oil supplies and the banking sector.
This year, the probable entry into NATO of Sweden and Finland has led to an additional aggravation between the Russian Federation and NATO. Western partners do not exclude the scenario of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia.
The issue of an embargo on Russian fossil fuels remains unresolved.
While the US has already announced a complete ban on importing Russian oil, gas, and coal, western European countries remain the largest buyers of Russian energy resources. The European Union is faced with internal disputes over an oil embargo against Russia, and the topic of imposing restrictions on Russian energy imports threatens to split the EU. Russia's economic turn towards India and China is observed. It is expected that the Russian Federation 2022 will sell its energy resources (oil and gas) worth more than 320 billion US dollars, which is a third more than in 2021.
Large-scale destruction of infrastructure and the death of the civilian population of Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion continues.
The Cabinet of Ministers notes that the total damage from the war to the economy of Ukraine ranges from $564 billion to $600 billion. According to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights Office, 3,193 people died due to the war in Ukraine, including 227 children.
After negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations in Istanbul on March 29, the Kremlin decided to withdraw its troops from the Kyiv, Sumy, and Chernihiv directions. Until April 10, Russian troops were withdrawn entirely from the Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy regions to Belarus and Russia. Some of these forces were transferred to the east of Ukraine to develop an offensive in the Donbas, and some – were near the city of Kharkiv. During the redeployment of troops, more than two weeks at the front, there was an operational pause before starting a large-scale offensive in the Donbas.
In the second half of April, the Russian Federation confirmed the start of the second phase of the offensive in Ukraine. It announced that they planned to establish complete control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine and provide a land corridor to the Crimea and Transnistria. Apparently, until implementing these goals, a new offensive in the north of Ukraine is not yet planned.
Slobozhanskyi direction: During the whole month, the Russian troops continued to partially shell and block the city of Kharkiv. In the second half of April, Ukrainian troops launched a counteroffensive. They were able to regain control over several small settlements north and northeast of Kharkiv by the end of the month. In the direction of Izyum, the town of Izyum remains under occupation. The Russian Federation concentrated a significant part of its troops to advance along the highway to the city of Sloviansk in the rear of the Donbas grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine towards the town of Barvenkov. But in general, the Russian Federation did not manage to move significantly over the month. Only at the end of April did Russian troops capture the village Zavody and approached the outskirts of _ Velika Kamyshevakha (this is a significant node of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in this area). In the village of Dovgenke, the Armed Forces are holding the line for the time being.
Donbas: The Russian Federation is conducting cautious offensive operations, mainly moving south towards Kurakhove and the city of Sloviansk by capturing small settlements, bypassing well-fortified cities. Thus, fighting is already underway on the outskirts of Lyman. And the main offensive is already underway on the Staromayorske - Velika Novoselka line and Lyubimovka - Zelene Pole. There were periodic hostilities in Lysychansk, Severodonetsk, Rubizhne, Popasna, Maryinka, and Avdeevka; it was impossible to establish complete control over these cities in the Russian Federation in a month. The city of Mariupol has wholly come under the power of the Russian Federation. Part of the Ukrainian troops is still being held on the territory of the Azovstal plant. Some Russian troops had already been transferred to the north to the Donetsk front and the south of Ukraine. By the end of the month, the Ukrainian leadership managed to agree on the evacuation of civilians from " Azovstal " under the auspices of the UN.
South direction: the number of militaries in the area increased significantly since the beginning of the month. The troops of the Russian Federation have collected a large number of equipment and personnel in the section Velika Novoselka - Novodarovka - Malinovka for an offensive towards the city of Zaporizhzhia. The Russian Federation carried out local offensives in the direction of the town of Gulyai-Pole, Temirovki, Trudolyubovka. Russian troops are also trying to advance in the direction of Kherson – Mykolaiv and Kherson – Kryvyi Rih. The city of Snegirevka and the settlement Velyka Alezandrovka remain under the control of the Russian Federation. In the Mykolaiv region, the Armed Forces of Ukraine restored control over five settlements.
Black Sea-Azov direction: after the liquidation of the cruiser Moskva on April 13, part of the Russian ships operating in the north of the Black Sea near Odesa moved south, further from the Ukrainian coast, since their protection against air attacks was significantly reduced. The probability of landing operations of the Russian Federation in Odesa or the city of Mykolaiv has also considerably decreased. But by the end of April, the Russian Federation began to increase the intensity of shelling of the coast of the Odessa region. In response, Ukrainian troops began to strike at the positions of the Russian Federation on the island of Zmiiny. The Raptor type's two enemy landing craft were shot near Zmiiny Island.
Significant events in the context of the war in Ukraine.
The situation regarding the city of Bucha. In early April, as the territory previously occupied by the Russian military was liberated, reports began to come in that in the suburb of Kyiv, the city of Bucha, the bodies of hundreds of civilians were found, several dozens of them lying right on the street. Ukraine accused the Russian Federation of committing war crimes - killing civilians, torture, and extrajudicial executions. This led to a new round of diplomatic sanctions and military escalation. Against the backdrop of the events in the city of Bucha, the EU countries massively began to expel Russian diplomats from their countries. The UN General Assembly suspended Russia's participation in the Council of the Human Rights Organization. At the same time, Russia rejects all accusations at all official levels, calling them, in particular, fakes and staged filming. An international investigation is underway.
At the same time, the UN called for an investigation into human rights violations due to data on the massacre of Russian prisoners.
These events only raise the degree of confrontation between the parties and complicate the already heavily advanced negotiation process. Russia lost the global information war against this backdrop, but it still controls information within its own country. Support the decision to conduct a "special military operation" - 74% of Russians.
Shelling of border areas. After the withdrawal of Russian troops from the north of Ukraine, the border regions of the Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, and Voronezh regions increasingly began to be subjected to shelling from Ukraine, large fuel bases, ammunition depots; sabotage operations were carried out to destroy the transport infrastructure. At the same time, by the end of the month, border areas on the territory of Ukraine (Sumy and Chernihiv regions) also began to be shelled.
The territories temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation (in the Kherson and Kharkiv, and Zaporizhzhia regions) were rumored to be so-called "referendums" and "censuses.” Still, residents have not yet confirmed this information. At the same time, the transition to the ruble economic zone has begun in these territories—the "LDNR" plans to hold a referendum on joining the Russian Federation in mid-May. At the same time, a "referendum" in the Kherson region is also possibly planned. The translation of the topic “LDNR” into the internal political bloc of the Russian Federation is also a marker of the likely inclusion of these territories into Russia or increased pressure on Ukraine and the West.
The situation in Transnistria is escalating. There have been a series of explosions. As a result, the authorities have introduced a "red level of the terrorist threat."
The authorities of Transnistria suspect Ukraine of terrorist attacks on their territory. The same version is voiced in Russia. Moldovan President Maia Sandu believes that the explosions are connected with forces inside Transnistria. In turn, Ukraine claims that it is Russia trying to destabilize the situation in Transnistria against the background of the war in Ukraine. Considering that the Russian Federation is striving to establish a land connection with Transnistria through Ukraine, various provocative actions are not ruled out there, serving as a legal reason for entering into a conflict. It can be expected that provocations in Transnistria will continue.
On April 12, the SBU detained the MP, head of the political council of the Opposition Platform - For Life party Viktor Medvedchuk. He was placed under arrest without the possibility of bail. The activities of the OPL faction were suspended by the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine in the Verkhovna Rada. Now the court's decision regarding the party is awaited by OPL. They offered to exchange him for captured British volunteers in the Russian Federation. For their part, Ukraine demanded to exchange V. Medvedchuk for the captured Ukrainian military in Mariupol. This was an extremely unfavorable scenario for the Russian Federation. As a result, it has not yet been possible to exchange V. Medvedchuk.
The Russian cruiser Moskva was hit and sunk by the Ukrainian anti-ship missiles "Neptune" (2 missiles) in the Black Sea operational zone. The cruiser provided air cover for other ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and now their protection against air attacks has decreased. This significantly weakened the capabilities of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. In addition, it was a severe blow to the reputation of the Russian armed forces as a whole.
Map of hostilities on March 31.
Map of hostilities on May 2.
In general, the negotiations are complex and largely depend on the situation at the front. In fact, until the end of the battle in the Donbas, the constructive negotiation process was put on hold. Based on the fight’s outcome, the parties will more accurately determine their positions.
In mid-April, Ukraine received proposals from Russia for a draft document on a peace agreement (proposed by Ukraine at the Istanbul meeting on March 29), which is now being worked on.
Working legal subgroups are finalizing the agreement on security guarantees for Ukraine regarding its compliance with international law. Political consultations are underway at the level of political advisers to countries of potential guarantors.
One of the most controversial issues of the negotiations remains the fate of Donbas and Crimea, as well as the issue of the post-war borders of Ukraine - Ukraine demands the withdrawal of troops to the pre-war borders, the Russian Federation wants to maintain control over the captured part of the south of Ukraine. Also, the most pressing issues of the negotiation process are security guarantees and the neutral status of Ukraine.
Regarding security guarantees, the Ukrainian side insists that the guarantor countries must state that an attack on Ukraine means an attack on themselves. Agreements without actual preventive mechanisms to prevent war will not work. Guarantees for the supply of weapons, closing the sky over Ukraine, and military consultations are essential for Ukraine. The United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, and Turkey demonstrate their readiness to become guarantors of Ukraine's security, but there is no final answer from anyone. France stated that it was ready to give security guarantees to Ukraine only after the end of the war, and, in fact, Germany also noted the same. Russia insists that Belarus be one of the guarantor countries of the future agreement with Ukraine. As one of the possible options, creating an institution of guarantor states, among which the permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Russia and China, is envisaged. But in general, negotiations on security guarantees between Ukraine and the guarantor countries do not yet have certain specifics.
As for a possible meeting between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, despite the efforts on the part of Turkey, the date of a possible arrangement of the presidents of the two countries and its context have not yet been determined.
In general, the rhetoric of the parties is getting tougher. Both sides declare the invariance of their position and the weakening of the positions of the opposite side and often work for internal PR. For its part, Russia believes that the Ukrainian side has abandoned the draft agreement proposed in Istanbul. Also, they regretted the withdrawal of forces from the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions. The foreign political situation is also not conducive to advancing the negotiation process (new sanctions and restrictions, more authoritarian rhetoric, unresolved issue of guarantees for Ukraine). It is possible that under the influence of Western partners, representatives of the Ukrainian authorities began to make statements that there could be no peace treaties with Russia. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Oleksiy Danilov said that Ukraine should not sign any peace agreements with the Russian Federation. Only the act of capitulation of the Russian Federation can be an exception. " With Russia, we can only sign her capitulation. And the sooner they do this, the better it will be for their country," -- O. Danilov. At the same time, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council said that he considers the most significant security guarantee to be the Ukrainian people’s power, not of Western partners.
Also, the head of the GUR, K. Budanov, named two ways to end the war: " The first is the division of Russia into three or more parts. The second is the relative preservation of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation when the country's leadership changes. In the latter case, the new leader will say that the Russian Federation had nothing to do with all these processes; it was a sick dictator. In this case, Russia will give up all the territories it occupies - from the islands of Japan to Koenigsberg, the current Kaliningrad, which belongs to Germany, " -- K. Budanov.
According to the forecasts of the UN, the World Bank, and the IMF, the Ukrainian economy will shrink by 20% to 45% this year. Active hostilities are conducted in those areas that produce about 60% of the country's GDP. A third of Ukrainian enterprises stopped production. The war harmed - slowed down, reduced, and even stopped - 86% of Ukrainian companies.
The Cabinet of Ministers notes that the total damage from the war to the economy of Ukraine ranges from $564 billion to $600 billion, and taking into account future periods, it reaches $1 trillion. Because of the war, the state budget of Ukraine is losing about UAH 2 billion a day. Ukraine's state budget deficit will grow from $2.7 billion in March to $5-7 billion in April-May. The International Monetary Fund has created a particular administrative account through which Ukraine will receive $5 billion per month. Ukraine's international partners will provide financial support.
According to the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, as a result of the war in Ukraine:
- 3193 people died, of which 227 were children;
- 3353 people were injured, including 321 children;
In the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in the territory controlled by Ukraine, 1562 civilians were killed in the "DNR and LNR" - 101.
To prevent the fuel crisis in Ukraine from growing, the Cabinet of Ministers increased the maximum trade markup for gasoline and diesel fuel by 40%. Diesel fuel should now cost no more than 40 UAH, gasoline - no more than 36 UAH., which is two hryvnias higher than the limit price set on April 22. Earlier, on April 22, the Ministry of Economy set new marginal prices for gasoline and diesel. Considering the maximum trade margin, gasoline should have cost no more than 34.1 hryvnias at gas stations, diesel - 38.66 hryvnias. Many gas station chains began to "rebel," which turned the trade into a minus for them. As a result, the situation with automotive fuel has noticeably deteriorated in Ukraine.
The Cabinet of Ministers decided that the gas price for the population during martial law in Ukraine would not rise. Prime Minister Denys Shmygal announced this following a government meeting. The prime minister also said that the Cabinet of Ministers recommends that local authorities not increase the cost of other housing and communal services until the end of martial law.
The Concern for Broadcasting, Radio Communications, and Television (KRRT) has cut off the Ukrainian TV channels Pryamyi and Channel 5 and Espresso from digital broadcasting (now they are available on the Internet and a satellite signal). These TV channels are associated with the former President of the country, Petro Poroshenko.
The incident may fit into the process of concentrating maximum power in the hands of the President and his team, establishing complete control over the country’s information space.
Foreign policy aspect
EU leaders are considering a ban on importing Russian oil and gas by individual EU member states. The sixth package of sanctions against the Russian Federation may include restrictions on importing Russian oil to one degree or another. In addition, the EU countries are now discussing severe sanctions against the Sberbank of the Russian Federation. The European Union is faced with internal disputes over an oil embargo against Russia, and the topic of imposing restrictions on Russian energy imports threatens to split the EU. Therefore, it is proposed that countries that are highly dependent on supplies will not implement an embargo on energy carriers from the Russian Federation at this stage. The energy embargo is opposed by Germany, Italy, Austria, and Hungary, while Poland and the Baltic states are in favor.
The fifth package of EU sanctions against Russia did not contain an embargo on fossil fuels. Therefore, it will not have a tangible impact on the economy of the Russian Federation (damage is less than 1%). The European Parliament calls for a complete embargo on Russian oil, gas, coal, and nuclear fuel. The embargo on gas and oil will deprive the Russian Federation of more than 4% of its GDP.
The European Union has already begun to reduce Russian gas imports by two-thirds. Russian supplies account for about 40% of all natural gas imports to the EU. Next in line is the rejection of Russian oil. The UK is committed to stopping buying oil by this year’s end. The US has already announced a total ban on importing Russian oil, gas, and coal.
It is expected that the European Union will stop importing Russian coal in the summer and will refuse oil from the Russian Federation by the end of the year. Against this background, the Russian Federation is engaged in blackmail, forcing the EU countries to pay according to the new cross-ruble formula. "Gazprom," at the end of April, suspended gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland.
At the same time, Russian gas continues to flow to Europe through Ukraine. Deliveries to the EU in May 2022 could grow by almost 40%. The nomination for pumping Russian gas to Europe as of May 1 is 96.7 million cubic meters compared to 69.6 million cubic meters on 30 April. European importers of Russian gas have significantly increased their bids for fuel supply to Gazprom, waiting for contract prices to fall. Most of the contracts are linked to the day-ahead market index - its value in April was at a record level of about $1,400 per thousand cubic meters and dropped to $1,100 in May. Western European countries remain the largest buyers of Russian energy resources. Since the war, Russia has sold oil, gas, and coal for 63 billion euros. Germany bought the most - for 9 billion. Next comes Italy - almost 7. China – is only in third place. It is expected that the Russian Federation 2022 will sell its energy resources (oil and gas) worth more than 320 billion US dollars, which is a third more than in 2021.
The United States passed the Lend-Lease Act to Support and Protect Democracy in Ukraine. The essence of the program is that it provides the US President with additional powers to use military reserves by sending them to a US ally, in our case, Ukraine. The transfer of weapons will be faster due to the reduction of bureaucratic procedures. Now arms supplies continue to arrive in Europe as part of the previously announced US military assistance to Ukraine for $800 million. The United States also reported sending Ukraine a new military aid package for another $800 million, including heavy artillery and 144,000 projectiles, and drones. In addition, the US announced the provision of $500 million in direct financial assistance to the Ukrainian budget.
At a meeting in German Ramstein at a US military base, a new pro-Ukrainian coalition was formed - about 40 countries agreed to coordinate military assistance to Ukraine and send more heavy weapons to Ukraine to repel Russian aggression. The United States intends to seek to reduce the military potential of Russia. Partner countries have collected about $ 5 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, of which $ 3.7 billion is allocated by the US administration. Capacity, speed, simplified logistics, and an expanded range of weapons were also discussed.
The Cabinet of Ministers hopes that Ukraine will receive the status of a candidate member of the EU at the next meeting of EU leaders, which is to be held in June 2022. In June, the European Commission will publish its opinion on Ukraine's accession to the EU. Now the European Commission is waiting for the second part of the questionnaire from Kyiv, after the transfer of the first part, to obtain the status of a candidate for EU membership.
The European Union may cancel all duties and quotas on exports from Ukraine. According to sources of the publication, the announcement of such a decision may appear as early as this week. The proposal will include the temporary lifting of existing tariffs and quotas on steel, manufactured goods, and agricultural products, which are not yet covered by the EU trade agreement with Ukraine.
It is highly likely that Finland and Sweden will not wait for the NATO summit at the end of June and will apply to join the Alliance in May.
More than half of the MPs of the Finnish parliament support the country's accession to NATO. Only a few years ago, the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO seemed unrealistic. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine contributed to this process. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the process of joining the alliance for Sweden and Finland would be fast. If Sweden and Finland apply to join, NATO will find a way to ensure their security during the transitional period of joining the alliance. This year, the probable entry into NATO of Sweden and Finland led to an additional aggravation between the Russian Federation and NATO.
Ruslan Bortnik, Oksana Krasovska, Andrii Timchenko,