The Ukraine Crisis: Situation Update #9
Foreign Policy Brief #137 | By: Ibrahim Sultan | June 14, 2022
Header photo taken from: Axios
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Photo taken from: Anatolii Stepanov / Politico
Over 100 days into Russia’s war on Ukraine, there is still no end in sight. Russia now controls a large swath of Ukrainian territory that extends from around Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv, through the separatist-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, and westward to the city of Kherson, forming a land bridge linking the captured territory to the Crimean peninsula. Russia’s focus has turned toward the Donbas and Luhansk regions in Eastern Ukraine, with heavy fighting now centering around Severodonetsk, an industrial city, and the last sliver of the Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control.
Ukrainian and British officials this past weekend warned that Russian forces were using unconventional weapons that have caused mass casualties as they try to make headway in capturing eastern Ukraine. Serhiy Haidai the head of the Luhansk regional military government accused Russian forces of beginning carpet-bombing campaigns across Eastern cities. Additionally, the UK Defense Ministry claimed that Russian bombers have likely been launching heavy Kh-22 missiles, a 1960s-era anti-ship missile that is highly inaccurate but specializes in causing widespread indiscriminate collateral damage and casualties.
In an effort to continue support for a war-torn Ukraine, President Biden announced on June 1, 2022, that the US would be sending a more advanced rocket system, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which launches rockets that can go around 49 miles. This is a far greater range than anything Ukraine has been sent to date. More than $5 billion in security assistance has been sent to Ukraine since Biden took office last year. The Biden administration has been careful to ensure that while supporting Ukraine’s war effort with weapons, it would not send munitions that could be used to strike targets inside Russia and implicate the US in an attack on Russian soil.
Sanctions unfortunately up to now have not halted the military assault, but there is still hope that a promise to lift them could eventually bring Russia to the negotiating table.
Yet as of right now the Russian rouble actually saw an increase in value, it has risen 16% against the greenback and is up 150% since it tanked just days after Russia’s invasion over three months ago.
Photos taken from: Reuters, Getty
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This can be explained by the collapse in imports while exports, such as oil and gas, have continued relatively unabated.
Russia has even reopened its now-former Mcdonald’s restaurants after the company cut business ties within the country. The restaurants have been rebranded as Vkusno-i tochka which translates to “Tasty and that’s it” in an obvious effort to present an appearance of normalcy to Russian citizens.
Though Russia’s economy has rebounded somewhat, the knock-on effects of sanctions for years to come should still be of great concern to the Kremlin. This is true not only for Russia but Central Asian states which have economies intertwined with it, along with large numbers of international workers in Russia who send back remittances that help prop up Central Asian economies and secure Russian influence in the region.
Remittances in Tajikistan amounted to 34% of GDP in 2021, 33% for the Kyrgyz Republic, and 12% in Uzbekistan. The war and sanctions may also damage Russia’s connections with Central Asian countries in the long term if economic hardship becomes widespread in the region on account of the Kremlin’s actions.