The Ukraine Crisis: Situation Update #11
Foreign Policy Brief #142 | By: Ibrahim Sultan | August 2, 2022
Header photo taken from: Carlos Barria / Reuters
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Summary of Recent Events
Donetsk Region Evacuation
On July 31, 2022 Ukranian President Zelensky ordered civilians to evacuate from the Donetsk region. Between 200,000 and 220,000 civilians still live in the unoccupied area of Donetsk, according to Ukrainian estimates.
Impact of US Weapons
On June 27, 2022 Ukrainian forces severely damaged a bridge that was vital to the Russian military’s supply lines in the city of Kherson.
The Ukranian defense ministry’s message to the occupying forces following the strike on the bridge was “Retreat or be annihilated”. The successful strike by Ukrainian forces was carried out by a high mobility artillery system that the U.S. has supplied in recent weeks.
Russia, in contrast, has relied on a less-precise artillery system that has indiscriminately shelled civilian areas.
Grain Embargo Lifted
Following lengthy negotiations mediated by Turkey and the UN, Russia has agreed to unblock Ukrainian ports to allow the export of grain.
The agreement has begun with a slow, cautious start, and it’s only in effect for 120 days. The goal over the next four months is to get some 22 million tons of grain out of three Ukrainian sea ports that have been blocked since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
EU and Russian Gas
EU countries are preparing for further cuts in supply of Russian gas. On June 26, 2022 Russia’s energy company Gazprom began sending less gas due to what it claims are technical difficulties.
EU countries have claimed the recent gas reduction is an escalation of an energy stand-off between Moscow and the European Union that will make it harder for the bloc to fill up storages ahead of the winter heating season.
EU Cutting Ties with Russia
EU countries have continued to remove themselves from dependence and ties with Russia. For example, Estonia has said it would block Russian nationals from obtaining temporary residence permits or visas to study in Estonia.
Failed Prisoner Exchange
The Biden administration has offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving a 25 year prison sentence in the US, to secure the release of two Americans held by Russia, WNBA player Brittney Griner and ex-Marine Paul Whelan.
Whelan has been detained since 2018 on espionage charges and Garner earlier this year on charges of cannabis possession in Russia.
Russia Gaining in Eastern Donbas
Although a deal was reached to allow grain exports to leave Ukranian ports, fighting has not subsided in the slightest.
The battle for the Eastern Donbas region is fierce and Ukraine calling for civilians to evacuate is another sign that Ukraine will lose the territory in the long run and may need to use it as a bargaining chip for any future peace deal.
Hungary Needs Russia
International Space Station Loses Russia
Russia recently announced it would pull out of the International Space Station after decades. The ISS until now had been a symbol of cooperation in spite of politics back on earth.
Russia now has pursued a future in space with China, signaling that fighting and polarization between global powers on Earth may someday soon reach into the stars.