In early 2022, Russia moved to invade Ukraine following massive troop build-ups on the border in the preceding months. It was a huge escalation of tensions that had been simmering since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and started backing separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Western states to which Kyiv looks for support condemned Moscow’s action as a major international crisis developed. Leveraging contacts on all sides and engaging local and foreign actors, including in the West, Crisis Group reports on the war, assesses its human costs, gauges the larger threats to Ukrainian and European security, and encourages actions that can bring fighting to an end. Our advocacy, written products and visual explainer describe the conflict’s evolving dynamics and identify ways to facilitate prospects for peace and a reunified Ukraine.

CrisisWatch Ukraine

Deteriorated Situation

Collapse of Kakhovka dam killed dozens, displaced thousands and raised fears of lasting ecological damage; Kyiv launched long-awaited counteroffensive, achieving modest gains as hostilities escalated.

Dam in Kherson collapsed, causing humanitarian and ecological crisis. Nova Kakhovka dam in Kherson region 6 June collapsed, causing catastrophic flooding on lower reaches of Dnipro River, whose right bank Ukraine controls and whose left bank Russia controls. Reservoir upstream from dam largely emptied. Kyiv and Moscow traded blame for incident, with Ukraine’s envoy to UN 6 June claiming it was “impossible to blow [dam] up from the outside by shelling”; media outlet The New York Times 16 June suggested large detonation from within Russian-controlled dam caused collapse. Flood killed at least 52 people, displaced tens of thousands and destroyed homes and farmland. Dam’s destruction will likely have lasting ecological consequences, including water contamination and destruction of irrigation systems, and will affect safety of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Ukrainian counteroffensive advanced slowly but steadily. Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive began early June without announcement as its forces shifted from deep strikes into Russian rear to probing attacks on Russian fortifications in east and south. President Zelenskyy 10 June confirmed offensive had begun, while military same day published footage of its soldiers in two liberated settlements on boundary between Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions, where Ukrainian forces subsequently liberated six more villages. Ukrainian forces 19 June confirmed liberation of Piatykhatky village (Zaporizhzhia), 26 June captured Rivnopil village and gained ground around Bakhmut city (Donetsk). Fighting likely to intensify in coming weeks, with risk of high casualties, as Ukrainian forces advance toward Russia’s main defence lines. Russian airstrikes continued, notably killing 12 at restaurant in Kramatorsk city 27 June.

Kyiv and Moscow showed little interest in African peace plan. Delegation of leaders from seven African countries led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa 16 June visited Ukraine, presenting ten-point peace plan. Zelenskyy later said launching talks “while the occupier is on our land is to freeze the war [and to] freeze pain and suffering”. Delegation 17 June travelled to Russia, where President Putin portrayed their propositions as misguided.

Continue reading

In The News

24 Jun 2023
If Russian soldiers feel their commanders are not in control, their trenches will be much easier to take for advancing Ukrainian troops. The Hill

Simon Schlegel

Senior Analyst, Ukraine
22 Feb 2023
Ce serait une erreur diplomatique de l’Occident que de trop forcer la main aux gouvernements africains sur le dossier ukrainien. Cela heurte beaucoup de sensibilités. Le Monde

Liesl Louw-Vaudran

Senior Adviser, African Union
20 Feb 2023
I think they [the Kremlin] will use this [Biden's Kyiv trip] to repeat the line that this is a conflict between Russia and the West, not between Russia and Ukraine. Newsweek

Oleg Ignatov

Senior Analyst, Russia
24 Jan 2023
Certainly, it makes no sense for Ukraine to offer any concessions now, when it has done well militarily and Russia is offering nothing. Foreign Affairs

Olga Oliker

Program Director, Europe and Central Asia

Latest Updates

Our People

Simon Schlegel

Senior Analyst, Ukraine
Simon Schlegel

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.