Ukraine Monitor Articles
Ukraine does not intend to extend the Russian gas transit contract after it expires at the end of 2024, according to Oleksiy Chernyshov, chairman of the state-owned oil and gas company Naftogaz. Consequently, Ukraine will stop transit once the deal expires. Ukraine continues to transit Russian gas only to support its European colleagues who need this volume of gas, Chernyshov said. In response, Russia said the Ukrainian intention not to extend the contract past 2024 could run a major risk to both Kyiv and the European Union. A sudden halt to the remaining gas flows through Ukraine to Europe would be disruptive and raise gas prices in the affected countries and beyond, according to sources in Russia.
Georgia has sided with Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. State authorities obstructed Georgian volunteers in Ukraine and criticized Ukrainian support for the imprisoned former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. In addition, Georgia boosted trade ties with Russia while opening borders to Russian citizens. State authorities also seek to begin impeachment proceedings against the country’s president, Salome Zourabichvili. A story of an alleged coup masterminded by Ukrainian sources to overthrow the Georgian government is also in line with this narrative.
Is the enemy of my enemy one’s friend? Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has held an unscheduled meeting with a senior official from Sudan during a technical stopover in Ireland. The two officials discussed the export of grain and perhaps also security cooperation. Recently reports have alleged that Ukrainian special services were likely behind a series of drone strikes and a ground operation directed against a Russian-backed militia in Sudan. Ukraine is allegedly providing support for Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of the Sudanese military junta.
Ukrainian forces carried out offensive operations towards Melitopol and repelled Russian assaults near Bakhmut in the second half of September. For weeks, in the northernmost sector of the frontline, Russia has ramped up its attacks on Kupyansk, trying to win back a city, although without any success. With the approach of fall and winter expected to make fighting more complicated, Ukrainian forces seek to score some bigger success and capture the settlement of Tokmak, considered a strategic city on the approach towards Zaporizhzhia.
In early September, Ukrainian forces decisively breached Russia’s first defensive line in Zaporizhzhia region. The fighting also continues in the direction of Bakhmut where Ukrainian troops––slowly albeit steadily––seize areas south of the city.
As winter is coming, Russia once again targets Ukraine’s civilian energy infrastructure to wreak havoc across the country. The government in Kyiv says its air defense has become even more complex and experienced to repel further attacks.
Three months into their long-awaited counteroffensive, Ukrainian forces are gaining a foothold in the area where they have breached Russia’s first main defensive line in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine could liberate the strategic settlement of Tokmak and thus cut communications and supply lines between Russia and the Russian-occupied territory of Crimea and the eastern Kherson region.
No breakthrough was made in the second half of August in the Kharkiv-Donbas sector of the Russia-Ukraine war. Russia is putting continuous pressure on the Luhansk-Kharkiv border while Ukraine is trying to seize the hills around Bakhmut, flank the city seen as a symbol of defiance, and push Russian forces out of it.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has begun efforts to root out corruption in the defense ministry. He sacked senior regional officials in charge of military conscription in an anti-corruption drive amid Western pressure and the limited number of people willing and able to fight.
Two months into the long-awaited counteroffensive, Ukrainian forces have not made any substantial gains on the frontline. The Russians had to withdraw on several sections along the frontline. Ukrainian forces have retaken the biggest swathes of territory around Bakhmut and along the border of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and southern Zaporizhzhya regions. Ukraine’s strategy still involves far-reaching wariness of personnel and equipment losses and efforts to impair Russian military, materiel, and supply lines behind the frontline.
Heavy fighting has emerged in the easternmost section of the Russian-Ukrainian frontline. Russian troops are trying to break through Ukraine’s defenses in the Kupyansk direction and capture the city. In addition, Ukrainian forces are getting pummeled by dozens of air strikes and artillery barrages from Russian territory. A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for the Ukrainian city of Kupyansk on the eastern bank of the Oskil river, a sign that the Ukrainian military command might seek to withdraw from a strip of land and form a defense line along the river.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces has not yet gained the momentum that some overly optimistic observers anticipated. Ukrainian forces seek to minimize losses while weakening the enemy by depleting its artillery stocks and targeting facilities behind the front line. And yet the Russian assault on the Kupyansk sector shows Ukraine being close to breaking off a section of the front line––an effort its forces have made continuously since early June. Otherwise, the Russian military command would not have dispatched poorly trained troops to target Ukraine’s fortified positions.
Kyiv’s defense ministry said in a statement that such vessels “may be considered by Ukraine as carrying military cargo with all the corresponding risks. The move comes as a response to Moscow withdrawing from a U.N.-brokered deal allowing passage to cargo ships carrying grain from Ukrainian ports.
The bridge linking Russia to Crimea was attacked in an assault that showed Ukraine’s ability to attack strategic assets deep into the Russian-controlled territory. The attack dealt another humiliating blow to the Kremlin’s prestige, and possibly to its ability to supply troops occupying Ukraine’s southern regions. The bridge has been a supply route for food, fuel, and other supplies for Russian troops invading southern Ukraine.