A roundup of the key battleground developments on Day 14 of Russia’s multi-pronged invasion of Ukraine.
Despite agreements reached between Russia and Ukraine on the evacuation of civilians after two failed attempts, the situation in Ukraine remains very tense.
As the war is about to enter its third week, fighting and shelling continue to take place in several areas of the country.
Russian forces are moving, albeit slowly, towards Izyum, southeast of Kharkiv, while also trying to lock Chernihiv, north of the capital, Kyiv, from all sides. At the same time, they are advancing north of Mykolaiv after failed attempts against the southern city and are trying to cut west of Kyiv in order to encircle it.
Meanwhile, Belarusians living in Ukraine’s capital have reportedly created a separate battalion named after 19th-century revolutionary Kastus Kalinouski to defend Kyiv.
All this happening in the background of troubling reports that a children’s hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol was destroyed by Russian air raids, according to the southeastern city council. There was no comment by Russia at the time of publication.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is due to meet on Thursday his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Turkey, but the military movements show that the threat of further escalation is far from over. It is possible that the Russian army will transfer more equipment, as well as increase its air raids and artillery shelling on civilian infrastructure as part of a campaign to put pressure on the Ukrainian military command and political leadership to surrender or agree to the terms of the Kremlin, which has said its military actions are only aimed at military targets.
While the Russian military has clearly suffered setbacks, including reports of low morale and abandoned vehicles, its campaign continues and new troops have been sent to the front lines.
Russia’s defense ministry admitted for the first time military conscripts have taken part in the conflict, saying the vast majority have returned home but some were also taken prisoner by the Ukrainian army. The topic is very sensitive in Russian society and President Vladimir Putin had denied several times that such a deployment would happen.
Separately, there were renewed concerns over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate warned that the facility had lost power. The plant is currently under Russian control and employees are unable to access it and restore power. According to Kuleba, the generators only have enough diesel to power the plant for 48 hours, at which point a leak will become “imminent”.
Meanwhile, the application of economic sanctions against Russia continues to hit its economy and force foreign companies to leave the country and stop business.
The sanctions, described by Putin as “similar to a declaration of war”, could have a direct impact on military action and the Russian military’s logistical capability to advance against Ukrainian forces.
Inside Russia, the country’s central bank has banned the sale of foreign currency to citizens and converted ruble-denominated foreign currency deposits into rubles, allowing only one-time withdrawals of up to $ 10,000.
By effectively freezing the bank’s assets, Ukraine’s Western allies hope to deprive Russia of one of the key planks of its strategy, its ability to use its country’s $ 630bn stockpile in reserves.