Russian and Ukrainian forces are locked in intense close quarter fighting in towns and cities on all the fronts – Kyiv, Kharkiv, Luhansk & Donetsk Oblast and Mariupol. However, intensity of fighting is limited on the Kyiv and Kharkiv front.
Ukrainian local reports indicate some progress made by the Russian attacks in the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblast in areas of Rubizhne and Popasna, though attacks are reported to have failed as per the Ukrainian General Staff. While stiff fighting is ongoing in various other towns in this zone.
In the south in Mariupol Russians are reported to have succeeded in reaching the city Centre. Missiles and sporadic air strikes by the Russian air force in some of the Ukrainian cities are continuing.
Local Defence Structure in Ukraine
The City Council organizes defence in Ukrainian cities in concert with the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Territorial Defence forces. This has possibly led to a coordinated approach thus mobilizing civilian personnel and resources to support the armed forces which has led to stiff resistance.
Read more at Russian Campaign Objectives and Outcomes – March 22
Beyond geopolitics the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is getting from bad to worse as Russian forces have continued to use artillery, missile and rocket fire in civilian areas leading to multiple deaths while thousands have been rendered internally and externally displaced.
That all mobile link communication internet accessibility in Ukraine ongoing providing the citizens and ability to contact each other relay information abroad get humanitarian aid and assistance which is a saving grace.
There is a degree of ambiguity of the level of casualties that have been suffered by the Russian forces in the offensive so far with estimates varying from 7000 to 15,000. There is no estimate of Ukrainian casualties
Projected Trajectory of Operations
Russia will have to reconstitute forces for further operations if envisaged and induct reserves on the Ukraine front. The Chechen Guards were identified in Kyiv as well as Mariupol in the south where reportedly they have reached the city Centre. Reports of mobilization of fighters from other areas such as Syria including proxy militia were reported.
In case the Russian forces are able to reconstitute combat power for the offensive, the expected line of advance will be to link up the two offensive groups from the North [Kyiv and Kharkiv]and the South towards Dnipro thereby aiming to secure a large swathe of territory in Eastern Ukraine part of it being the Donbas.
In the South if reconstituted forces permit, the Russians may advance along the coast, after the fall of Mariupol towards Odessa with the aim of cutting of access to Ukraine of the vital port on the Black Sea. This will lead to Ukraine becoming a landlocked country – a major strategic disadvantage.
Presently however Russian forces lack the combat power to launch both the operations as enumerated above, but this assessment is based on lack of information on movement on the Russian side and information that is available through social media and messaging channels.
The NATO summit held in Brussels that was also attended by US President Joe Biden has stated that the use of chemical and biological weapons in Ukraine by Russia will not be acceptable and this will lead to escalation in what form is not specified.
NATO is planning to deploy four multinational battlegroups in Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria. NATO however has rejected a proposal by Poland to deploy a “peacekeeping,” contingent in Ukraine.
Meanwhile the use of the nuclear option has also come up with remarks in Russian talk shows. Hopefully the escalation will remain rhetorical.
UN General Assembly Special Session
The UN General Assembly Special Session adopted a resolution on, "Humanitarian Consequences of Aggression against Ukraine": 140 countries voted in favor of it, and the 5 - "against" which included Eretria, North Korea, Syria, Russia and Belarus. India and China abstained.
The approved document has called on Russia to immediately cease shelling of civilians and civilian infrastructure, to end siege of cities and to ensure unhindered access for humanitarian personnel and for the delivery of humanitarian aid and calls for protection of civilians in the war zone.
India has been attempting to maintain a middle ground not siding with either side which is also indicative from the fact that India has abstained in UN Security Council on vote on draft resolution by Russia on humanitarian crisis in Ukraine in line with the proposals by the members from the West while at the same time using the same option in the UN General Assembly becoming one of the 38 members to do so.
International Monetary Fund Deputy head, Gita Gopinath has expressed fears that the global monetary system may be fragmented as Russia announced that it will trade only in Rubles including for export of energy to Europe.
All in all, the Situation in Ukraine remains grim with future portends of escalation given the united stand taken by NATO, the G 7 and EU Summits expected today. Russia would not like to be seen to bow down under pressure. Thus, the Ukraine Conflict is continuing in the escalatory phase.