Ukraine is facing a series of challenges as it continues to resist the Russian invasion that began in January 2021. The war, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives and displaced over a million people, has escalated in recent months with new waves of Russian attacks, drone strikes, and cyberattacks. Ukraine is also struggling with political, economic, and social issues that affect its stability and security.
Ukraine’s military forces are fighting against the Russian-backed separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as against the Russian troops that have occupied Crimea and parts of the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions. Ukraine has received military assistance from the United States and other Western allies, including weapons, equipment, training, and intelligence. However, Ukraine’s defense capabilities are still limited by a lack of modernization, corruption, and low morale.
The latest developments in the military situation include:
- Russia launched nearly three dozen drones at Kyiv early on Sunday. Loud explosions were heard across the Ukrainian capital and surrounding areas for more than an hour, explosions from air defenses lighting up the night sky. While no casualties were reported, falling debris has damaged buildings and vehicles1.
- At least one person was killed in Kryvyi Rih, Zelensky’s hometown, while three died in Kherson, according to officials2. These were among the latest casualties of the wave of Russian attacks that have targeted Ukrainian cities and infrastructure since August.
- Five Ukrainian drones were shot down over Russia’s Bryansk, Rostov and Moscow regions, leaving a person injured and cars, buildings damaged3. Ukraine has been using drones to conduct reconnaissance and strike missions against Russian targets.
- A new book by journalist Ashlee Vance reveals that Elon Musk severed crucial satellite signal during a Ukrainian drone operation in June 2021, after receiving a phone call from Vladimir Putin. The book claims that Musk’s decision prevented a Ukrainian attack on Russian forces near the border4.
- The US announced a new $600 million security assistance package for Ukraine on Wednesday, following a day after it pledged $1 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Kyiv5. The new package includes controversial depleted uranium ammunition for US tanks that are deployed in Ukraine.
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed the idea of compromising with Putin, pointing to the death of his close adviser Serhiy Prigozhin, who was killed by a Russian sniper in July6. Zelensky said he would not accept any peace deal that would legitimize Russia’s occupation of Ukrainian territory or undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Ukraine’s political situation is also complex and volatile, as it faces internal divisions, external pressures, and democratic challenges. Zelensky, a former comedian who won a landslide victory in 2019 on an anti-corruption platform, has faced criticism from his opponents and supporters alike for his handling of the war, the economy, and the pandemic. Zelensky has also faced resistance from the oligarchs, the judiciary, and the parliament, which have hampered his reform efforts.
The latest developments in the political situation include:
- Four Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine are holding ‘elections’ on Sunday, which are widely seen as illegitimate and illegal by the international community7. The regions are Donetsk, Luhansk, Crimea, and Sevastopol. The ‘elections’ are expected to consolidate Russia’s control over these territories and undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
- Zelensky urged to intervene in the case of Alexander Garms-Rizzi, a British soldier who deserted to fight in Ukraine8. Garms-Rizzi joined the Ukrainian volunteer battalion Donbas in 2014 and fought against the Russian-backed separatists. He was arrested by British authorities in 2019 and faces up to two years in prison for desertion. A celebrated Ukrainian commander has asked Zelensky to call for a pardon for Garms-Rizzi.
- Zelensky and Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed Israeli support for Kyiv on Wednesday9. While Israel has backed Ukraine diplomatically, it has not assisted the war-torn country with arms against Russia. Zelensky expressed his hope that Israel would increase its cooperation with Ukraine in various fields, including defense, trade, tourism, and innovation.
Ukraine’s economic situation is also precarious and dependent on external assistance. The war has severely damaged Ukraine’s industrial base, infrastructure, and trade relations. The country is also facing high inflation, low growth, high debt, and widespread poverty. Ukraine relies on loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other donors to finance its budget deficit and maintain its currency stability. However, Ukraine has also failed to implement some of the reforms required by the IMF, such as tackling corruption, reforming the judiciary, and privatizing state-owned enterprises.
The latest developments in the economic situation include:
- Russia’s ruble hits a 17-month low to the dollar as the Ukraine war bites10. The ruble has lost more than 10% of its value since the start of the year, as the war has increased sanctions, isolation, and uncertainty for Russia’s economy. The ruble’s weakness has also fueled inflation and reduced purchasing power for Russians.
- Global food prices bounce following collapse of Black Sea grain deal11. The deal, which was signed in July, involved Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Turkey agreeing to cooperate on grain exports and stabilize prices. However, the deal fell apart after Russia invaded Ukraine and imposed an embargo on Ukrainian grain. The disruption of the Black Sea grain market has caused a spike in global food prices, especially for wheat and corn.
- Alleged Russian crime boss sanctioned by Ukraine owns a major stake in US biotech firm. The firm, called BioXcel Therapeutics, is developing drugs for neurological and psychiatric disorders. The alleged crime boss, Semion Mogilevich, is accused of being involved in organized crime, money laundering, and arms trafficking. He is also wanted by the FBI for his role in a $150 million fraud scheme. Ukraine imposed sanctions on Mogilevich and his associates on Tuesday, freezing their assets and banning them from doing business in the country.
Ukraine’s social situation is also challenging and diverse, as it deals with the humanitarian, cultural, and health impacts of the war. The war has caused a humanitarian crisis, with millions of people in need of food, water, shelter, health care, and protection. The war has also exacerbated the social divisions and tensions between different ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups in Ukraine. The country is also facing a public health crisis, with low vaccination rates, high infection rates, and limited access to medical services.
The latest developments in the social situation include:
- A Chinese opera singer sparks fury after performing in bombed Ukrainian theater. The singer, Li Xiangxiang, performed at the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theater on Tuesday, which was damaged by a Russian airstrike in August. Li said he wanted to show his support for the people of Donetsk and their ‘right to self-determination’. However, many Ukrainians and Chinese netizens condemned his performance as insensitive and disrespectful to the victims of the war.
- A network based in Cuba and Russia alleged to have facilitated Cubans to join Russia’s war in Ukraine. Cuba arrested 17 people on Tuesday for trafficking men to fight for Russia in Ukraine. The network is accused of recruiting Cubans through social media and sending them to Russia for training and deployment. Cuba’s foreign ministry said it was cooperating with Ukraine’s authorities to investigate the case.
- A new military-focused curriculum includes senior students learning to handle Kalashnikov assault rifles and hand grenades. The curriculum, which was introduced by Russia’s Ministry of Defense this month, aims to prepare students for ‘patriotic education’ and ‘military service’. The curriculum is mandatory for students in grades 10 and 11 in schools located near military bases or conflict zones.
In conclusion, Ukraine is facing a complex and multifaceted crisis that threatens its sovereignty, security, and stability. The country is under constant attack from Russia, which has invaded and occupied parts of its territory and launched a hybrid war against it. Ukraine is also dealing with political, economic, and social challenges that affect its governance, development, and cohesion. Ukraine needs more support from the international community, especially from its Western allies, to defend itself and to implement the necessary reforms. Ukraine also needs to maintain its resilience and unity in the face of adversity and aggression. Ukraine’s fate is not only important for its own people, but also for the region and the world.