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Ukraine's battle for Bakhmut has become one of the longest and bloodiest in the conflict. It serves as a warning of what comes next, potentially heralding another year of hard fighting to come.
The Ukrainian military claims Russian forces have sent in specialized Wagner mercenary units to breach the city's defenses. The town has been under siege for months and its fall would significantly restrict any progress made in the Ukrainian offensive.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen declared President Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine to be a strategic failure, ahead of the two-day G-20 summit starting Friday. She stated that "sweeping sanctions" will be implemented against key revenue-generating sectors for Russia, as well as new economic, energy and security assistance being announced.
At the end of February 2022, Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine and ignited a devastating conflict that has claimed more than 10,000 lives and left thousands homeless in a country devastated by civil war. Now in its second year, this battle has gained international isolation as Russia was condemned to withdraw its forces from Ukraine during a United Nations vote demanding it do so.
Recently, the Ukrainian military has reported an uptick in Russian air and ground attacks both to the east and south of their country. A top commander visited besieged Bakhmut i to boost morale, and a military spokeswoman stated that government will "put its maximum effort" into defending the town and surrounding villages over the coming days.
Zelenskyy's popularity among many Ukrainians has not diminished despite accusations that his government ignored security issues and failed to prepare the country for an invasion. Parliamentarians from the opposition European Solidarity party say they will investigate what went wrong with Ukraine's intelligence service, which some blame for the rapid loss of southern region.
Zelenskyy has thus far lost support from some lawmakers who want his cabinet reformed for Ukraine to have better intelligence and a more robust security apparatus. One anonymous lawmaker who requested anonymity out of fear for retribution from Zelenskyy's supporters told Vogue she was dissatisfied with how the president handled the crisis and would question him at an upcoming parliamentary hearing.
Zelenskyy's government has also been accused of elevating oligarchs into high-ranking positions in key ministries, prompting critics to allege he was pilfering money and resources from the country. Additionally, Zelenskyy faces an uphill battle domestically as his countrymen demand membership in NATO.
He remains determined to push Ukraine towards European Union membership, even if it seems unlikely in the short term. In the long run, however, he faces numerous domestic difficulties like restoring a nation divided by war and corruption.
Zelenskyy has a proven record of rallying the nation's soldiers and public after wartime, crediting him with turning around a nation's declining popularity. But he still needs to address several pressing challenges such as the economy, security situation and democracy in Ukraine, according to Orysia Lutsevych - head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House.
On Tuesday, Putin is expected to provide his elite with an update regarding the conflict in Ukraine. Additionally, he will give an in-depth assessment of the international situation and lay out his vision for Russia's development since Western sanctions have been applied with unprecedented force.
At the meeting, Western countries and Ukraine have urged G-20 host Indonesia to withdraw its invitation and expel Putin over Russia's aggression in Ukraine. But Indonesia has rejected this call, asserting that only when all members agree on removal can it remove him from the group.
At the same time, Russia has escalated its military offensive further into Ukraine than ever before, as both Western and Russian efforts have been made to forge a peace plan for Ukraine. Russia is currently trying to annex four disputed regions - Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia - an illegal move under international law.
Though Russia has sought to avoid confrontation with the West, it remains uncertain how long this will remain the strategy. After all, Western leaders have tried unsuccessfully in diplomatic channels to engage Putin; it remains to be seen what success this will bring.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, a fierce battle is being fought for the city of Bakhmut. Russia has been bombarding it with rockets for months now, placing tremendous stress on those living there and other nearby towns.
Though Russia may have achieved a tactical victory by falling Bakhmut, their military has already ceded much of Ukraine to Ukraine's independence. According to Adam Schreck, professor of political science at New York University's Stern School of Business, it appears unlikely the battle will end anytime soon.
However, the fall of Bakhmut could have a beneficial effect on Moscow's image among Ukrainians who are fed up with seeing their country being overrun by foreign troops. Furthermore, it would bolster the resolve of Ukraine's military which has yet to regain control over key areas in the region.
Ukraine will likely find itself increasingly challenged to fight the conflict on its own in the coming weeks and months, especially as Western nations such as the U.S. have shown little inclination to provide military aid. With so few allies left in Europe, Ukrainian efforts could prove more challenging than expected in securing vital supplies from overseas.
In response, the European Union is sending a high-ranking delegation to the G-20 summit in Indonesia. Josep Borrell Fontelles, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, will deliver a strong message regarding Moscow's flagrant violation of international law and UN Charter as well as its detrimental effect on global economic activity, said the European Union.
One year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin is still engaged in the Battle for Bakhmut i. A journalist visited the Ukrainian town and documented Russian forces and their brutal assault.
Since July 2022, the city of Donetsk has been a symbol of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. It also serves as a reminder that this battle is far from being won and Moscow may yet fail to secure victory.
But the Ukrainians are staying strong. They've maximized their limited resources, taking advantage of Russian weakness to pull back when threatened and reposition themselves when ahead. This strategy, known as "space for time," has been the key to their success in the war.
As the Ukrainians struggle to maintain control of their territory, Moscow is pressing in from all sides. Moscow attempts to blockade roads leading to Bakhmut and deny them access to supplies; in return, Kievans retaliate by cutting off supplies to their adversaries.
At the same time, the United States is increasing economic sanctions against Russia's military. In addition to new limits on military sales, President Obama said he had implemented a series of measures against companies providing Moscow with weapons.
Washington has identified five Chinese firms, the majority of which are located in Russia. According to Washington, these companies are trying to circumvent sanctions by engaging in "sanction evasion and backfill activities" to support Russia's defense sector.
India, one of the world's biggest energy consumers and an active participant in EU energy policy discussions, will be asserting its position at G20, a diplomatic gathering featuring Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping. According to Reuters, Modi and Xi will discuss issues including the Ukraine crisis during their discussion.
In a statement released ahead of the meeting, the European Union declared its opposition to Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the global consequences that follow from it. It urged Russia to cease attacks against civilians and critical infrastructure and hold its leadership accountable for violations of international law.
Third parties were also encouraged to stop providing military aid to Russia and its allies, while the United Nations should take action against Russia for violating its obligations under the UN Charter, which forbids threats or use of force against any non-member state.
Later this week, the G-20 foreign ministers will gather in London to address global challenges like climate change and food and energy security. According to the European Commission, they will also examine the need for a stronger multilateral system.