Kyiv officials stated that Russia has begun its widely expected assault on eastern Ukraine. After having pulled back from the north of the country following a failed effort to take the capital and other major cities, the Kremlin has been steadily moving forces to the Donbas region. With wide-ranging tank battles expected across the area’s open landscape, this new chapter of Russia’s war comes with an advantage for the Kremlin: separatist groups have been fighting the Ukrainian military there (with Moscow’s help) since 2014. Critical to any move by Russia to establish a land corridor along the Sea of Azov will be Mariupol, the port city it’s been pounding for weeks. Its remaining defenders are encircled but haven’t surrendered, Ukrainian officials said. In recent days, Russian forces also renewed their barrage on cities all across the country, including strikes on what it claims are arms depots in Lviv, near the border with Poland.
As far as the Russian economy is concerned, Vladimir Putin proclaimed that sanctions had failed, citing the recovery of the ruble to pre-war levels. However, Russia’s central bank conceded it has found no clear alternatives to the world’s major reserve currencies, since the global effort has left the Kremlin with only yuan and gold. In addition to addressing Russia’s financial picture, Putin also honored an army unit allegedly involved in mass executions in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.