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SITUATION UPDATE 17 June, 2022 Back

Situation Update - Ukraine-Russia conflict passes 100 days

Emelie Andrusyszyn

Ukraine-Russia conflict

As fighting continues within the east and south of Ukraine, the Ukraine-Russia conflict passed its 100 days mark on 3 June. The UN estimates that 5.1 million people have fled Ukraine following the invasion, while over seven million others are internally displaced.

Recent weeks have seen Russia concentrate forces into the Donbas region, with the ultimate goal seemingly revealed by Russian State Duma member Leonid Slutsky, who previously indicated a referendum on joining Russia could be held in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson this summer, consequently suggesting Russia expects to achieve full control over the regions. Of note, increasing Russian gains are being made in Severodonetsk, a strategic city in Luhansk. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested that Ukrainian forces have had some successes in fighting the Russians; however, it has not been enough to alter the military situation in the region and Russian forces currently control most of the city. In total, an estimated 10,000 people are said to remain trapped in Severodonestsk amid repeated interruptions to evacuations, compounded by Kyiv alleging that Russia has destroyed all the bridges over the Siverskyi Donets River, effectively cutting off the city. The fall of Severodonetsk would put Russia closer to achieving control of the Donbas, which includes the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. Summarising the ongoing conflict, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated this month that “we just have to be prepared for the long haul” in this conflict, adding that the “war has now become a war of attrition”.

In efforts by the international community to help, the US recently announced an additional one billion USD military aid package to Ukraine, which includes additional howitzers, 36,000 rounds of ammunition, Harpoon coastal defence systems, night vision devices, and other equipment. Additionally, over 50 nations were in attendance of a working group meeting on 15 June, in Brussels, to discuss Ukraine’s security needs. Germany is expected to provide three Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, Slovakia intends to send additional helicopters and rocket ammunition, while Canada and Poland have agreed to transfer extra artillery. This comes in addition to the 2.08 billion USD in military aid provided by the EU and the 40 billion USD in aid from the US since the start of the conflict.

Meanwhile, President Zelenskyy received visits in Kyiv by several western leaders over the past weeks, including European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen, and the leaders of Germany, France, Italy, and Romania. These come amid ongoing talks of providing further aid and support, as well as Ukraine’s prospective EU membership, which is due to be examined during the bloc’s next summit between 23-24 June. It is possible that Ukraine may be granted candidate status, or a roadmap towards candidate status could be set out, but concerns remain that such a process could take years. The EC’s president has since recommended that Ukraine receive candidate status, marking the first step towards EU membership, which would ultimately grant Ukraine additional bloc-wide rights and symbolises further integration into the Western world.