As of Saturday, March 25, 2023, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to escalate. The United Nations has expressed deep concern over the summary executions of prisoners of war by both Russian and Ukrainian forces on the battlefield. Meanwhile, Russia’s former President Dmitry Medvedev has stated that Russia wants to create demilitarized buffer zones around areas of Ukraine it has annexed, which may require pushing deeper into Ukraine if such zones cannot be established.
The fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has intensified, with Russian forces attacking northern and southern stretches of the front line in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Heavy fighting has been reported along a line running from the towns of Lyman to Kupiansk, as well as in the south at Avdiivka, on the outskirts of the Russian-held city of Donetsk. Both areas have been key Russian targets in efforts to fully capture Ukraine’s industrialized Donbas region.
The situation in eastern Ukraine is “not good” due to a lack of ammunition among Ukrainian forces, according to Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu presented awards to female soldiers who repelled a drone attack in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol. Russia’s Defence Ministry also claimed that its forces have destroyed a hangar housing drones belonging to Ukraine’s armed forces in Ukraine’s southwestern Odesa region. However, Russian attacks over the past day have killed at least 10 civilians and injured 20 people across the country, according to Ukraine’s presidential office.
Russia’s wartime censorship laws have intensified as the conflict continues, with at least 482 people charged under the strict new laws and 136 sent to prison, according to human rights monitor OVD-Info. Meanwhile, air force commanders from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark have signed a letter of intent to create a unified Nordic air defense focused on countering the rising threat from Russia. Estonia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has decided to expel a Russian diplomat working at Moscow’s embassy in Tallinn for “causing divisions in Estonian society.”
As international sanctions against Moscow bite and prospects for economic development diminish, Russia’s middle class is forecast to shrink, while social inequality grows over the coming years, according to an economic study conducted by Russian experts. In the United States, Democratic and Republican senators have urged President Joe Biden’s administration to share information with the International Criminal Court as it pursues war crimes charges against Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Group of Creditors of Ukraine, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the US, says it has provided financing assurances to support the International Monetary Fund’s approval for an upper-credit tranche program to help restore Ukraine’s economy.
Overall, the situation in Ukraine remains dire, with ongoing fighting and human rights abuses. The international community continues to respond with a mix of aid and diplomacy, but the conflict shows no signs of abating anytime soon.