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A Comprehensive Overview Past and Present of Russia’s War in Ukraine

GS 2, International Relations

The war between Russia and Ukraine has been ongoing for over a year, and there are signs of escalation everywhere. The West has recently announced the supply of more advanced weapons to Ukraine, deepening its involvement in the conflict.


In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of his country’s participation in the New Start treaty, which could trigger a nuclear arms race.


This blog provides a comprehensive overview of the current status of the war, whether Russia is losing the war, and if the West’s strategy has been effective.


Current Status of the War

  • Russia is expected to launch a new offensive in the coming days.
  • PMC Wagner, a private Russian security force with close ties to the Kremlin, has been fighting to take Bakhmut for over seven months.
  • Russians control all major highways into Bakhmut, except one.
  • Russians have opened two more fronts in Izium and Vuhledar, and positional fighting is continuing in Kherson.
  • Ukraine is waiting for main battle tanks pledged by Western countries to arrive at the battlefield.

Is Russia Losing the War?

  • Russia failed to meet any of its declared objectives.
  • Russia controls 17% of Ukraine and managed to secure a land bridge between mainland Russia and Crimea.
  • Russia plans to mount more pressure on Ukrainian troops with a new offensive.

Was the West’s Strategy Effective?

  • The West has punished Russia’s economy through sanctions and armed Ukraine to counter the Russian offensive.
  • The U.S. is Ukraine’s biggest aid provider, with over $70 billion worth of military and financial assistance pledged.
  • The EU has pledged $37 billion, with the U.K. and Germany topping the list.
  • The approach of arming Ukraine has been effective in at least halting Russian advances.
  • Sanctions on Russia hit the global economy hard, worsening an inflationary crisis across the West, particularly in Europe.

President Zelensky and the Ukrainian Resistance

  • Russian invasion turns President Zelensky into the face of Ukrainian resistance
  • Zelensky’s approval rating had fallen, regime accused of persecuting former President
  • Civil war between Russian-speaking separatists and Ukraine army had been raging since 2014
  • Zelensky emerged as a hero for many after surviving initial Russian thrust

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Crackdown on Opposition and Strengthening of Power

  • Eleven opposition parties, including Platform for Life, banned
  • Presidential decrees issued mandating TV channels to broadcast identical content cleared by government officials
  • Churches with links to Russian Orthodox Church not spared
  • Zelensky emerged politically stronger at home as war dragged on and West stood solidly behind him
  • Scandals surface recently, Zelensky fires dozen senior officials over corruption
  • Pipeline of aid from West existential for regime and must not be disrupted as war goes on

Possibility for a Negotiated Settlement

  • Russian and Ukrainian officials began talks immediately after war began
  • Talks collapsed in March 2022 due to opposition from US and UK
  • Turkey brokered a deal on taking out Russian and Ukrainian food grains through Black Sea
  • Talks between two sides non-existent, Russia remains adamant
  • Zelensky will not reach agreement with Russia making territorial compromises
  • No push from West for talks, China has stepped in with own peace initiative
  • Two complex issues to be addressed for peace plan to succeed: Ukraine’s territories and Russia’s security concerns
  • Possibility for lasting solution low as war enters second year, set to grind on

February 2024