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Russian-Ukraine Crisis: Situational Analysis

Situational Analysis conducted on the Russian invasion of Ukraine as of 2020 Hrs. (UTC) on 24.02.2022

A catastrophic situation has unfolded in Eastern Europe where culminating tensions in the Russia-Ukrainian crisis have now tipped the plate into war. A full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, as the West termed it, was set off a few hours back with the massive movement of Russian military equipment inside Ukraine.[1]

While Russian peacekeeping forces were stationed inside Ukrainian territory since the 22nd, the situation underwent a deadly escalation with President Putin announcing a military operation to demilitarise the Ukrainian military so that it does not pose a major threat to the newly founded republics and the Russian Federation as a whole.[2] Putin further claimed that the military operation was to safeguard the civilians in the Donbas region who he claimed have been subject to genocide.[3]

In a move of inflicting damage to troop morale, President Putin urged the Ukrainian military to lay down their arms and go home. He addressed them as ‘Dear comrades’ and stated that the Ukrainian military had taken an oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people and not to the anti-people junta and criminal Ukrainian leadership.[4]

The geographic position of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in the Donbass region [5]

Through a post shared on his social media, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a statement of defiance, after which he put the nation in a state of emergency and braced Ukraine for the incoming waves of Russian missiles, artillery, aircraft, tanks, ships and military personnel.

Prior to the Attack

Russian troop build-up along the Ukrainian border with Russia and the Ukrainian border with Belarus had been extremely apparent for several weeks since the end of 2021. NATO (North American Treaty Organisation) warned of a possible Russian invasion to which Moscow responded claiming it was mass hysteria of the West.[6]

President Putin had accused the West and NATO of threatening Russia by its gradual yet continual seizure of former Soviet nations into the NATO alliance, thus moving Western military establishments ever so close to the Russian Eastern border. [7] “We didn’t come to the US or UK borders, no, they came to ours”, President Putin had stated.

By the 19th of February, Russia had amassed a massive build-up of over 125 battalion tactical groups, which is in comparison to just 60 groups in regular times and up from 80 at the beginning of February. 50% of this group was mobilised in attack position.[8]

Satellite image, among many, of Russian troop build-up in Russia’s border with Ukraine [9]

In addition, Russia had deployed an armada of Naval entities including landing ships, major warships, submarines and aircraft to effectively dominate the Black Sea, south of Ukraine. Just outside the Black Sea, in the Mediterranean Sea, a second set of naval forces appeared to be on standby. This set was analysed to act as an outer layer of defence, probably against potential NATO involvement in the Mediterranean. Some of the ships deployed were brought in
thousands of miles from their bases in the Arctic and Pacific, to positions near Ukraine. [10]

Russian Naval Positions as of 21 February [11]

With the recognition of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic by the Russian Duma [12], President Vladimir Putin sent in the Russian military as peacekeepers inside Ukrainian sovereign territory in the Donbas region on the 22nd of February.[13]

Acknowledging a potential Russian invasion, the Ukrainian military, far right-wing groups and groups of Americans have been training Ukrainian citizenry for a potential occupation of Ukraine by Russia. Civilians were trained in resisting the potential Russian invaders. [14]

On the 17th of February, a Ukrainian school, among other locations, suffered shelling attacks claimed to have come from Russian-backed separatist regions. The Ukrainian political leadership stated that it could be a Russian pretext for a major invasion and accused the Kremlin of attempting to provoke a strike from the Ukrainian military. [15]

Russian Invasion on 24 February

At approximately around 0330 Hours, a pre-dawn televised broadcast was made by the Russian president in which President Putin demanded that the Ukrainian military lay down its arms and claimed that Moscow does not plan to invade the whole of Ukraine. Following this, a plethora of strategic strikes was launched against Ukrainian military positions across the nation, including the Capital.

The Russian invasion was launched from the North, South and East of Ukraine, effectively opening multiple fronts for the Ukrainian military to handle. From the South, Russia attacked through Crimea, a region that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. From the East, the invasion was conducted through the newly formed republics and in the Donbas region. On the North, Russia moved through Belarus, a long-standing ally of the Kremlin. [16]

Reports of explosions across Ukrainian territory on 24 February [17]

The strategic attack by Russia targeted key Ukrainian infrastructure including radar stations, air defence facilities, and airports – similar to what the American-led coalition conducted against Saddam Hussein during Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf War in 1991.

Multiple rocket attacks were reported in locations of military presence outside the Donbas region. Multiple missile strikes were reported in Kyiv and Lviv. Further explosions in the port city of Odessa as well as multiple firefights in various locations were reported.

Videos of missile strikes against the Boryspil International Airport in Ukraine’s capital has been surfacing along with other such videos on attacks to Ukrainian defence facilitations.

The Ukrainian military stated that military installations, equipment, headquarters and facilities were targeted throughout the nation in major cities including Kyiv, Dnipro, Kharkiv and Mariupol [18].

The strategy of Russian Invasion of Ukraine [19]

Ukrainian media have placed a death toll of approximately 57 Ukrainians killed and over 169 injured. [20] Further, Ukraine claims to have shot down at least 06 Russian jets, 04 main battle tanks and have killed 50 Russian soldiers in the conflict. [21] These claims on attacks to Russian armour are undocumented, require further evidence and are denied by Russia.

Interior reports from Ukraine state that Russia has captured the town of Gostomel, which is a town in Ukraine’s Kyiv Oblast, a north-western suburb approximately 30 Km from the capital city of Kyiv. [22] The town has a population of approximately 16,945 (2020).

In a statement by the Russian Ministry of Defence, it was claimed that 74 ground targets were neutralised along with 11 airfields, 03 command posts, 01 naval base, 18 radar facilitations, some S-300 and Buk-M1 missile installations, some combat helicopters and 04 TB2 drones.

The port of Ochakiv was previously noted by President Putin as a striking symbol of NATO’s and America’s encroachment into Russia’s sphere of influence. Around 0700 Hours on the 24th, the port was rocked by powerful explosions as it faced the brunt of a coordinated Russian strike that crippled Ukraine’s naval capabilities in the region. [23]The Naval Base А2637 in Ochakiv has been a strategic base for centuries, especially during the Russo-Turkish war in 1788. In the words of President Putin;

I will add that the Naval Operations Center in Ochakiv, built by the Americans, makes it possible to ensure the actions of NATO ships, including the use of high-precision weapons by them against the Russian Black Sea Fleet and our infrastructure along the entire Black Sea coast. [24]

In addition to this, a major battle has broken out in the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl, the location of the former Soviet nuclear plant and the catastrophic nuclear accident in 1986. Reports, images and videos are constantly surfacing of Russian jets in Ukrainian skies, destroyed Ukrainian tanks, destroyed Ukrainian aircraft and other explosions around the country.

Known Russian losses so far amount to;

  • 1x T-80BVM tank
  • 2x MT-LB AFVs
  • 2x GAZ Tigr-M IMVs
  • 1x Ka-52 ‘Alligator’ attack helicopter
  • 1x GAZ-66 truck [25]

Known Ukrainian losses so far amount to;

  • 1x BRM-1K AFV
  • 4x BTR-4 IFV
  • 1x Kozak-2 IMV
  • 5x Radar
  • 1x An-26 transport aircraft
  • 12 Trucks [26]

International Responses and Spill over Effects

US President Joe Biden condemned President Putin of waging ‘a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering’. In addition to the stringent sanctions placed on Russian elites, corporations and economy following the Russian recognition of the breakaway regions on 22 February, President Biden is expected to announce further reprimands against Russia in a speech at the White House. [27] The US sanctions Belarusian Defence Minister, among others, for aiding the Russian invasion.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged similar sentiments to President Biden stating that the UK will level a ‘massive package of sanctions’ to ‘hobble’ the Russian economy. He further condemned Russia’s invasion as ‘hideous and barbaric’ and accused President Putin of being a dictator.[28]

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned the Russian invasion as ‘brutal’ and ‘unprovoked’. He further stated that the sanctions put forward will target army commanders, deputy defence ministers and Russian mercenaries. Australia announced sanctions on 08 members of Russia’s Security Council.[29]

The EU vice-president of foreign policy, Josep Borrell, stated that the escalating crisis is the ‘darkest hours for Europe since World War II’. He further promised urgent support to Ukraine and pledged that the Union will launch a harsh set of sanctions against the Russian Federation.[30]

A special emergency UN meeting was underway late Wednesday night when President Putin declared war on Ukraine from Russia. ‘Give peace a chance’ Secretary-General of the UN Antonio Guterres stated. ‘President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia’ the secretary-general further noted. ‘In the name of humanity, do not allow to start in Europe what could be the worst war since the beginning of this century’.[31]

In the same session, an exchange of sentiments was observed between the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya and Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on the unfolding events. Comments were made from 70 nations with an overwhelming majority condemning Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.[32]

Further, 04 NATO powers in Eastern Europe, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have triggered NATO Article 04, meaning that the nations will launch consultations among each other and NATO leadership concerning potential threats to their own territorial integrity, political independence or security.[33]

In terms of the spillover effects, the global economy may suffer extensively with a loss in consumer confidence, crippled domestic economies, switch to wartime spending and slow growth in investment. Russia’s primary MOEX index dropped by 45% within the day before closing at a 33% drop at the end of 24 February. The Russian rouble also hit a record low after dropping by 7% to the US Dollar. Major Russian corporations have also been hit with oil and gas companies such as Gazprom dropping by 37%, Lukoil declining by 34% and Novatek by 20%.[34]

Russia’s MOEX index as at 24 February [35]

On the crypto markets, all major cryptocurrencies experienced significant losses to their value during the course of the day. Bitcoin fell by over 8% compared to a day earlier and was trading at $34,969 at 0622 Hours (UTC) on 24 February.[36]

Following the invasion, global crude oil prices soared above USD 105 per barrel (Brent), breaking a 07-year record. Oil supply is threatened with the potential termination of the Nord Stream 02 pipeline and threatening the 01 million barrels per day of Russian crude oil transitioning through Ukraine and the Black Sea.[37]

London’s FTSE 100 fell by 3.9%, while Germany’s DAX 30 dropped by 4% in its respective market. In addition, the CAC 40 of France shed 3.8% of its market value. Markets in Asia suffered similarly with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) recording a drop of 3.2% – its highest daily loss in 05 months. Moreover, Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) dropped by 1.8% and China’s Shanghai Composite fell by 1.7%. The USA’s Nasdaq Composite moved 0.2%, lower – opening the day in a bearish market of low gains. The Dow slipped by 1.9%, or 675 points, while the S&P 500 lost 1.2% of its value.[38]

President Putin issued a warning to the West that external interference would mean that they ‘face consequences greater than any [them] have faced in history’.[39]

In an opinionated conclusionary note, the invasion and the rapidly unravelling situation in Eastern Europe have given way for a deepening rift and drift among the global states. With seemingly weak leadership from the Biden-Harris administration – a key player in NATO, and the failed military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the contenders of the West are increasingly empowered to mount operations against Western allies. Against the same backdrop, the author predicts that the Communist Party of China could also escalate tensions in the South China Sea and against Taiwan.

‘If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.’ – Archbishop Desmond Tutu; South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop.

[1] Ward, Alexander, Nahal Toosi, and Paul Mcleary. 2022. Review of Russia Attacks Ukraine. Politico. February 24, 2022.

[2] Cura, Ali. 2022. Review of Russian President Announces Special Military Operation in Eastern Ukraine. Anadolu Agency. February 24, 2022.

[3] Guest, Layla. 2022. Review of Putin Warns of “Genocide.” Russia Today. February 16, 2022.

[4] Dougherty, Jill. 2022. Review of Putin Lashes out with Ominous Threat to Ukrainians and Other Countries. Cable News Network (CNN). February 24, 2022.

[5] Al Jazeera. 2022. Review of Donetsk and Luhansk: What to Know about Ukraine’s Rebel Regions. Al Jazeera. February 21, 2022.

[6] Pintoe, Rashane. 2022. Review of Europe on the Brink of War. Ceylon Today. February 21, 2022.

[7] Ibid

[8] NDTV. 2022. Review of 50% Russian Forces in Attack Position, Tactical Moves: US on Ukraine. NDTV. February 19, 2022.

[9] Ibid

[10] Sutton, H. I. 2022. Review of Massive Russian Navy Armada Moves into Place off Ukraine. Naval News. February 21, 2022.

[11] Ibid

[12] Teslova, Elena. 2022. Review of Russian Parliament Ratifies Recognition of Ukraine’s Breakaway Regions. Anadolu Agency. February 22, 2022.

[13] Roth, Andrew, and Julian Borger. 2022. Review of Putin Orders Troops into Eastern Ukraine on “Peacekeeping Duties.” The Guardian. February 21, 2022.

[14] Rainsford, Sarah. 2022. Review of Ukrainian Civilians Train for War as Invasion Fears Grow. BBC. February 1, 2022.

[15] Pintoe, Europe on the Brink of War

[16] BBC. 2022. Review of Ukraine Conflict: Russian Forces Invade after Putin TV Declaration. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). February 24, 2022.

[17] Ibid

[18] Ibid

[19] A potential strategy designed by analysts of what Russia could do in a potential invasion of Ukraine. The actual invasion has been moving in similar sentiment.

O’Grady, PJ. 2022. Review of Escalations with Russia, Ukraine Mount Concern in Europe. Prospector Now. February 8, 2022.

[20] Kulkarni, Abhimanyu. 2022. Review of 40 Ukraine, Nearly 50 Russian Soldiers Killed, Says Kyiv: 5 Latest Facts. NDTV. February 24, 2022.

[21] Balmforth, Tom. 2022. Review of Ukraine Says 50 Russian Troops Killed, Four Tanks Destroyed. Reuters. February 24, 2022.

[22] NDTV. 2022. Review of Russia Capture Airfield near Kyiv, Ukraine Vows to Take It Back. NDTV. February 24, 2022.

[23] Herszenhorn, David. 2022. Review of Ukraine Naval Base Drew Putin’s Wrath, Then Russian Fire. Politico. February 24, 2022.

[24] Ibid

[25] Mitzer, Stijn, Jakub Janovsky, Kemal, and Dan. 2022. Review of Attack on Europe: Documenting Equipment Losses during the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine. Oryx. February 24, 2022.

[26] Ibid

[27] Egan, Lauren. 2022. Review of Biden to Announce New Measures in Response to Russian Invasion of Ukraine. NBC. February 24, 2022.

[28] Wright, Oliver. 2022. Review of Boris Johnson Pledges Massive Sanctions to Hobble Russian Economy. The Times. February 24, 2022.

[29] CNN. 2022. Review of Russia Invades Ukraine. Cable News Network (CNN). February 25, 2022.

[30] Ibid

[31] NPR. 2022. Review of Emergency U.N. Meeting Is Interrupted by Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine. NPR. February 25, 2022.

[32] Ibid

[33] CNN. Russia Invades Ukraine.

[34] Steer, George, and Tommy Stubbington. 2022. Review of Russian Stocks Plunge and Rouble Hits Record Low after Ukraine Invasion. Financial Times. February 25, 2022.

[35] Ibid

[36] McLean, Rob, and Michelle Toh. 2022. Review of Bitcoin Price Falls after Russia Attacks Ukraine. Cable News Network (CNN). February 25, 2022.

[37] Meredith, Sam, Joanna Tan, and Abigail Ng. 2022. Review of Oil Prices Jump 8% as Russia Invades Ukraine; Brent Tops $100 for First Time since 2014. Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC). Accessed February 25, 2022.

[38] An analysis of the stock trends in various share market indices across the world, which have all been affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He, Laura. 2022. Review of Global Stocks Plunge as Russia Attacks Ukraine. Cable News Network (CNN). February 25, 2022.

[39] Stieglitz, Brian. 2022. Review of Putin’s Terrifying Warning to the West. Mail Online. February 25, 2022.