A Ukrainian police officer stands in front of a damaged residential block hit by an early morning missile strike on February 25, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
A Ukrainian police officer stands in front of a damaged residential block hit by an early morning missile strike on February 25, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. © Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Russia's War on Ukraine

2 March 2022

IWPR's Frontline Updates – unique insights from our network of local reporters and updates from our programmes.

I write from Lviv, in Western Ukraine.

Anthony Borden


By Anthony Borden
IWPR FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR


Kyiv is seized by terror as an extended column of forces, many miles long, crawls its way towards the capital. Russian forces have hit numerous civilian targets in Kharkiv, the strategically vital second city, with shells landing near the central metro station where thousands are taking cover.

A half-million Ukrainians have fled the country, jamming car and train routes, and enduring incredibly harsh and humiliating conditions. I took this journey myself from Lviv to Przemysl two days ago, and it was hellish, lasting 24 hours. As the violence spirals, the lines only grow, making exit effectively impossible – or in the bitter cold, life-threatening.

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Yet in only five days, one senior Western intelligence official estimated that more than 5,000 Russian soldiers had been captured or killed – compared to 14,500 in a decade of war in Afghanistan. The morale of Russian forces is already a factor, and will only fall further as casualties rise. While the vast disparity in size of forces remains, the entire fit-and-able male population of Ukraine has been mobilized, and the country is receiving increasing military supplies. More – much more – is needed.

Meanwhile, Russia has become an international pariah, with near-unanimous condemnation at the UN. The president is now presumed a war criminal. Demonstrators are on the street worldwide, and even some Russian elite are breaking from Putin. The Russian economy is tanking, devastating people’s savings, while corporations and banks cut ties. The country has been dropped from the vital SWIFT payments system.

Russia has several military strategies – principally, a choice between street fighting or laying waste. Nuclear bluffing and WWIII are also in the mix. And Putin has a number of end-game scenarios: all the country, two-thirds of the country, cantonisation à la Bosnia, or the Donbass plus Crimea.

Ukrainians will disagree, and continue to believe in victory. If nothing else, the invasion will beget a long insurgency – “a partisan war from every door and every window,” as a retired Ukrainian general told me. “Russians will not be safe any place.”

No-one will win from Putin’s deranged war. As ever, civilians are the pawns in this fantasy power play, normal Russian citizens included. Ukrainian society is totally mobilised, utterly united and fiercely determined to combat the invaders and defend the European values they hold as their own. With this life-and-death motivation, it is only a matter of time, blood and tears until a deal is brokered to end this vicious tragedy. Let it be soon.

"Ukrainian society is totally mobilised, utterly united and fiercely determined."

Local journalists at work in central station on March 2, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Russian forces continued their advance on the Ukrainian capital as the country's invasion of its western neighbour entered its seventh day.
Local journalists at work in central station on March 2, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Russian forces continued their advance on the Ukrainian capital as the country's invasion of its western neighbour entered its seventh day. © Pierre Crom/Getty Images

Ukraine’s Local Media Organises

Scattered, few in number and lacking protective equipment, journalists collaborate to share news across the country.

Ukraine Implores West for Weapons

“If we have procrastination for two to three weeks, then there will be no one you can give the guns to.”

Ukrainian serviceman cross the destroyed bridge on March 1, 2022 in Irpin, Ukraine. Russian forces continued to advance on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as their invasion of its western neighbour entered its sixth day.
Ukrainian serviceman cross the destroyed bridge on March 1, 2022 in Irpin, Ukraine. Russian forces continued to advance on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as their invasion of its western neighbour entered its sixth day. © Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images
War Diary by Anthony Borden in Ukraine as Russian attacks continue

Lviv, Ukraine – Thursday, 24 February 2022

"Why should young Ukrainians die just for the absolute absurdity of some medieval concept of history and empire?"

A house hit by shelling in Kakhovka, a port city in the southern region of Kherson.
A house hit by shelling in Kakhovka, a port city in the southern region of Kherson. © Oleh Baturin

Civilian Toll Rises as Russians Enter Kherson

Ground forces advance in strategic southern region amid reports that non-military targets are coming under fire.

FIRST PERSON

Ukraine: How My War Began

Journalist reports calm and confusion as Ukrainians wake up to a new reality.

A night view of Kyiv as the city mayor declared a curfew from 10pm to 7am on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
A night view of Kyiv as the city mayor declared a curfew from 10pm to 7am on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. © Pierre Crom/Getty Images

"There is no doubt that Ukraine will resist the aggressor."

A metro station turned bomb shelter in a suburban neighbourhood, Kyiv. (February 25, 2022)
A metro station turned bomb shelter in a suburban neighbourhood, Kyiv. (February 25, 2022) © Yulia Abibok

Kyiv Citizens Brace for Battle

Amid shock and anger, people in the capital are quickly adapting to war conditions.

Ukraine: Exodus by Rail

Fear and resignation on the train to Poland as refugees head west.

Platform at Lviv station, 26 February, 2022.
Platform at Lviv station, 26 February, 2022. © Anthony Borden
Donbas Decides (Донбасс решает), a popular pro-separatist Telegram in Eastern Ukraine.
Donbas Decides (Донбасс решает), a popular pro-separatist Telegram in Eastern Ukraine.
ANALYSIS

Ukraine’s Telegram Battlefield

How guerilla media operations in the country’s east preceded - and amplified - Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine: Lviv Maintains a Sense of Sanctuary

As war edges closer, distance from Russia and closeness to NATO member Poland provide the city with a sense of confidence.

A view of the city of Lviv, Ukraine. Once the centre of Ukraine's 2014 Revolution, Lviv is back in the spotlight as a safe haven for people escaping from Kyiv amid ongoing attacks by Russia.
A view of the city of Lviv, Ukraine. Once the centre of Ukraine's 2014 Revolution, Lviv is back in the spotlight as a safe haven for people escaping from Kyiv amid ongoing attacks by Russia. © Gaelle Girbes/Getty Images

“First, I have to save my family. Then I will think about myself.”

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