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Ukraine and Eastern Europe

Stories under this heading cover Ukraine and Eastern Europe. 

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G7 explores ways to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine 

G7 explores ways to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine 

The G7 will explore ways to use future revenues from frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the G7 and its allies froze around $300 billion in Russian assets. "We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilized Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine," the draft statement said. G7 negotiators have been discussing for weeks how best to use these assets, which include major currencies and government bonds held mainly in European vaults. The United States (US) has been urging its G7 partners - Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada - to support a loan that could provide Kyiv with up to $50 billion in the near term. The cautious language of the statement, lacking figures or specifics, underlines the many legal and technical issues that would need to be resolved before such a loan could be issued. A G7 source indicated that there would be no significant changes to the statement before the final version is released later on Saturday (25 May).

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Wagner troops try to break into central Bakhmut but suffer "significant" losses

Wagner troops try to break into central Bakhmut but suffer "significant" losses

Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine's Ground Forces, has said in the morning of Monday (13 March) that fighting around the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut - an industrial town with a pre-war population of some 70,000 - remains "difficult" as assault units of the Russian Kremlin-backed mercenary group Wagner continue trying to break through Ukrainian defense lines and advance to the central areas of the city. Quoted by the Ukrainian defense ministry's media center, Syrskyi said "in fierce battles, our defenders inflict significant losses on the enemy. All enemy attempts to capture the city are repelled by artillery, tanks, and other firepower." Russia, and in large part Wagner, has been trying to take Bakhmut for some seven months. In recent weeks Russian and Wagner forces have slowly advanced towards the town and have reportedly partially encircled it. Last week Ukraine is understood to have partially withdrawn to west of the Bakhmutka river that divides Bakhmut, and now marks the front line.
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Ukraine likely conducting limited tactical withdrawal from Bakhmut, Russia still deploying 60-year-old tanks

Ukraine likely conducting limited tactical withdrawal from Bakhmut, Russia still deploying 60-year-old tanks

Ukrainian forces are likely conducting a "limited tactical withdrawal" from Bakhmut, said the Institute for the Study of War in its latest update of the Russia-Ukraine war on Monday (6 March). They did also caution, however, that it is too early to tell if Ukraine is considering a complete withdrawal from the city. Quoting a Ukrainian serviceman, the ISW also reported that, as of 4 March, Russian forces had not yet crossed the Bakhmuta River into central Bakhmut. Russian military bloggers have also claimed the Wagner Group had pushed Ukrainian positions back to central Bakhmut, according to the ISW. Amid the increased fighting along the frontline in eastern Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defence reported in its intelligence update on 6 March that Russia "has continued to respond to heavy armoured vehicle losses by deploying 60-year-old T-62 main battle tanks".
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Warmer weather could help Ukraine in Bakhmut as Kyiv claims 150,000 Russian troop losses

Warmer weather could help Ukraine in Bakhmut as Kyiv claims 150,000 Russian troop losses

In its latest intelligence briefing on the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Thursday (2 March), the UK Ministry of Defence has suggested that warmer weather around Bakhmut - the eastern Ukrainian town with a pre-war population of 70,000 that Russia has been trying to capture for months - may help the Ukrainians in their defence. In the briefing, the UK Ministry of Defence wrote, "as Ukrainian forces continue their defence of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, rising temperatures are now creating the muddy conditions [...] limiting cross country movement (CCM)." "Poor CCM typically provides some military advantage to defending forces," the briefing adds. The UK Ministry of Defence also note that daytime temperatures around Bakhmut have risen to above freezing, and warmer than average forecasts over the next weeks will also likely decrease CCM. "It is almost certain that by late-March, CCM will be at its worst following the final thaw. This will add further friction to ground operations and hamper the off-road movement of heavier armoured vehicles, especially over churned-up ground in the Bakhmut sector."
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Commentary
Gulf States' position on the war in Ukraine is a work in progress

Gulf States' position on the war in Ukraine is a work in progress

When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine one year ago the prevalent feeling among the Arab Gulf states was that they did not want to get involved.  Some thought the best policy was to ignore it, others that they should at the very least dodge it, and some even saw in it some opportunity to extend relations with Russia and China.  There were a number of reasons for this. The region was frustrated with how the west dealt with it. It expected a more equal relationship that never properly materialised. There was fatigue at western attempts – some clearly ill-judged – at interfering in the Arab region, and conversely, disappointment at western failure to stand up to Iran. The unsightly US departure from Afghanistan, and talk of American strategic re-positioning, convinced some that the American moment in the Gulf had passed.
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Ukraine repels 60 Russian attacks in 24 hours as Bakhmut situation deteriorates

Ukraine repels 60 Russian attacks in 24 hours as Bakhmut situation deteriorates

The Ukrainian military repelled 60 Russian attacks in five areas over the past 24 hours in northeastern and eastern Ukraine, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces reported in its morning update on Tuesday (28 February). Ukraine repelled the attacks near Kupyansk in eastern Kharkiv Oblast as well as Lyman, Bakhmut, Adviika, and Shakhtarsk in Donetsk Oblast, where Russia is concentrating its main offensive efforts, according to the General Staff. Russian troops reportedly carried out eight missile attacks, 32 air strikes, and launched more than 85 attacks using multiple launch rocket systems  between 27 and 28 February, the statement said. Meanwhile, in his daily address on the evening of 27 February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the situation in the Bakhmut direction is "getting more and more difficult". He added that Russia "is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions, to gain a foothold and ensure defense". The commander of Ukraine's ground forces, Col Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi, has said the situation around Bakhmut is "extremely tense". Russia has been trying to take the medium-sized industrial town with a pre-war population of roughly 70,000 for over six months, and has long been a location where the front line has been the most active. 
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Editorial
Our War

Our War

One year has passed since Vladimir Putin’s Russia attacked Ukraine, plunging Europe into a war that has already claimed the lives of tens of thousands, and devastated a whole country. Putin expected Ukraine to fall into his lap within hours. It didn’t. It resisted heroically. He also expected Europe, the United States and the rest of the international community to give a muddled response, and for things to be back to business as usual within weeks. It did not happen. The response of Europe, the United States and similarly minded countries was fast, resolute and robust. Having grossly miscalculated, Putin had two choices: to admit his mistake and recalibrate, or, to persist, and to keep digging despite the fact that he was clearly in a hole. Most countries have internal corrective systems that in such situations keep leaders in check. In Russia no such systems exist. So Putin keeps digging himself into a hole by threatening to escalate. What has been clear from day one, is that this is not simply Ukraine’s war. Countries can have disputes, and sometimes they also go to war with each other. Usually the world stands by and tries to bring the belligerents to the negotiating table and to restore peace.
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Spanish PM arrives in Kyiv after confirmation of Leopard deliveries

Spanish PM arrives in Kyiv after confirmation of Leopard deliveries

The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has arrived in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Thursday (23 February), one day before the one year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The visit from PM Sanchez comes one day after Spain confirmed that it would send six refurbished Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, with the goal to have the tanks in Ukraine by the end of March or early April. Writing on Twitter, PM Sanchez said, "We will stand by Ukraine and its people until peace returns to Europe." He has also visited Bucha, the Kyiv suburb infamously known as the site of many alleged Russian war crimes against civilians in the first weeks of the full-scale invasion. "Bucha and Irpin show the wounds and scars of Putin's barbarism. Russia is not going to win this war. All of Spain is with Ukraine," he said. Sanchez's visit is the latest in a number of high-profile visits to Kyiv in the run up to the 24 February. US President Joe Biden made a surprise visit on Monday during which he pledged another $500m of military aid. Then, on Tuesday, the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visited Kyiv for talks with President Zelensky, during which she pledged to continue supporting Ukraine in resisting Russian attacks but ruled out offering fighter jets.