What’s the latest, and is there any end in sight?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is entering its fourth week. Russian forces control some territory, particularly on Ukraine’s southern coastline. However, attempts to capture the two largest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv, have been less successful.
Both sides say progress has been made in peace talks, but it is not yet obvious how or when the war will end.
Here’s a roundup of key events.
RUSSIA MAKES GAINS IN SOUTH, ENCIRCLES MARIUPOL
Russia has advanced from territory it already controlled (Crimea in the south, and Donetsk and Luhansk in the east) and now controls most of Ukraine’s only coastline in the south.
The coastal city of Mariupol is surrounded by Russian troops and has been under sustained attack for three weeks. 300,000 people are trapped in the city with no access to power, water, or humanitarian aid.
A theatre in Mariupol, which was being used as a shelter for hundreds of people, was destroyed by bombs yesterday. Ukrainian authorities say it was attacked by Russian forces. Russia say this is a “lie” and maintain they “do not shell civilian infrastructure”.
It is not known how many people were killed in the attack, but there are some reports that those who had taken shelter in the basement have survived.
RUSSIA LESS SUCCESSFUL IN KYIV AND KHARKIV
Ukraine’s two largest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv, continue to experience heavy shelling and high civilian death tolls, but Ukrainian authorities say they have so far held back attempts by Russian troops to take control of the cities.
There are reports of inadequate planning by Russian forces, leaving them with logistical problems and insufficient forces to take control of large cities.
PEACE TALKS CONTINUE BUT NO OBVIOUS END IN SIGHT
Leaders from both countries have suggested peace talks are progressing.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the talks this week were “more realistic” than previous talks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was some “hope for reaching a compromise”.
However, in an interview on PBS in the U.S., Ukraine’s lead negotiator acknowledged “the only way to end this war” would be a meeting between Zelensky and Vladimir Putin.
So far, Putin has not given any indication of softening his stance. On Wednesday, he said Russia’s invasion was “going to plan” and maintained Russia would achieve its goal of “demilitarisation” of Ukraine.
ZELENSKY ASKS WEST FOR MORE SUPPORT
Volodymyr Zelensky has continued to ask the West for more support, including implementing a ‘no-fly zone’ (a commitment to shoot down any plans that enter Ukrainian airspace).
This week, he conceded Ukraine would not be admitted to Western military alliance NATO.
“For years we heard about the apparently open door, but have already also heard that we will not enter,” he said.
Speaking to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, Zelensky called on U.S. President Joe Biden to “be the leader of the world… [that] means to be the leader of peace”.
In an address to the German Parliament, Zelensky asked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to “tear down this Wall… between freedom and bondage”, a wall he said was “growing bigger with every bomb”. The use of the word ‘Wall’ is a reference to the Berlin Wall.