On February 24, Russia launched a full-scale offensive against Ukraine as part of its “special military operation” to “demilitarise” and “denazify” the Ukrainian state. Nearly 100 days later, Russia has achieved few of its military objectives and has incurred heavy casualties in its abortive pushes across the country.
Throughout the war, Russia has repeatedly reduced and downgraded its objectives. Originally intending to besiege Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Russia’s assault became untenable due to poor logistics and stiff Ukrainian resistance. Other attacks on major Ukrainian cities, such as Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Sumy, were repelled by Ukrainian defenders.
In the city of Mariupol, almost completely destroyed by constant Russian shelling, Ukrainian defenders managed to hold out for nearly three months, becoming trapped within the grounds of the former Azovstal steel plant. The Ukrainian army estimates that this last stand tied up around 20,000 Russian forces from moving to other regions of Ukraine.
Currently, Russia controls around 20% of Ukraine, controlling large amounts of territory in the south of the country (Kherson Oblast) and areas of the Donbas, where fighting is concentrated. Ukrainian forces are struggling to contain Russian offensives in the east of the country, where Russian forces are attempting to capture the cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.
Current casualties from the war are hard to estimate. Ukraine army figures state that over 30,000 Russian troops have been killed in the conflict already, however just over 3,000 can be officially verified.
Ukrainian casualties are also hard to calculate, but the Ukrainian government has admitted that it is incurring heavy casualties in the defence of the Donbas, up to 100 per day.
The war in Ukraine has obliterated civilian infrastructure across the country, and Russian forces are currently under investigation for atrocities in the cities of Irpin, Bucha, Mariupol, Chernihiv, Makariv, and Kramatorsk.
Influx of refugees
In total, 4,149 civilian casualties in Ukraine have been confirmed by the United Nations, however the true figures are expected to be much higher. The war has displaced around 4.7 million Ukrainians, many of whom have travelled to Poland, Germany, Czechia, and other European countries.
Belgium has received around 40,000 refugees from Ukraine and predicts that it may receive up to 200,000 during the course of the conflict.
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With Kyiv firmly in Ukrainian hands, however, refugees are already starting to return home, with nearly 2 million people crossing back over the border to Ukraine.
Ukraine has not been alone in its fight. Since the start of the conflict, Ukraine has received billions in financial support from fundraising, EU microfinance support, direct military assistance, and other humanitarian support for its Western partners.
In solidarity with Ukraine, states across the world have committed to some of the widest and most comprehensive sanctions packages against Russia, leading to the mass pull-out of international businesses from the Russian market, as well as future oil and gas embargoes, which should come into force by the end of the year.
Despite negotiations having failed on multiple occasions to stop the war in Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S Secretary of State Anthony Blinken have still expressed hope that the war will be ended on the negotiating table, and that Ukraine’s battlefield successes will undoubtedly work in its favour.