On 24 February 2022 Russia launched military action in Ukraine, with forces crossing into the country from Belarus in the north, Russia in the east and Crimea in the south.

President Putin has said Russia, acting in self defence, was launching a special military operation in the Donbas and called on Ukrainian forces to lay down their weapons. Russian forces have, however, been conducting  a full-scale assault on the country. After failing to take Kyiv, Russian forces are currently focusing on southern and eastern Ukraine. The port city of Mariupol is now effectively under Russian control after Ukrainian forces surrendered following several months of fighting. 

Russia’s actions came days after President Putin officially recognised the self-declared independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), the regions of eastern Ukraine that are under the control of Russian-backed separatist forces, and deployed forces to the region, under the guise of peacekeeping operations. Russia had previously denied that it was planning to invade Ukraine and said its build up of forces was in response to provocative actions by NATO. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its subsequent conduct, which has led to widespread allegations of war crimes, has been met with international condemnation.

An “unprecedented” package of sanctions has been imposed on Russia by the US, EU, UK and other allies and partners around the world. 

NATO has moved to shore up the defence of eastern Europe with the deployment of additional ships, fighter aircraft and troops to the region. Military assistance is also being provided to Ukraine, although NATO troops will not be deployed on the ground as Ukraine is a partner country of the Alliance and not party to NATO’s Article V mutual defence clause. NATO allies have also ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine. As a direct consequence of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden have applied to join the Alliance.

Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine have stalled with each side blaming the other. Since the end of February 2022, the UN Refugee Agency estimates 6.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine, with 3.3 million now in neighbouring Poland.

Relevant Library papers

Military action and its implications 

Ukraine crisis: A Parliamentary reading list (2014-present), 12 April 2022 

This reading list provides links to Parliamentary and selected other material on the crisis in Ukraine since Crimea was seized by pro-Russian forces in 2014.

Ukraine crisis: A timeline (2014-present), 1 April 2022

This paper provides a timeline of the major events in the Ukraine-Russia crisis since Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Ukraine crisis: Recognition, military action and international law, 24 March 2022 

As Russia undertakes widespread military action against Ukraine, this briefing outlines some of the international legal issues involved.

Ukraine: Fears Russia could use chemical weapons, 18 March 2022 

This Insight examines the nature of chemical weapons, allegations of previous use by Russia and concerns among Western military chiefs that Russia could deploy them in Ukraine.

No-fly zones and Ukraine, 7 March 2022 

The UK and NATO have ruled out establishing a no-fly zone in Ukraine. What is their legal basis and when have they been used before?

Ukraine: Russia’s “red line”, 18 February 2022 (this paper will no longer be updated)

Russian military forces are building on the borders of Ukraine once again. What are Russia’s intentions and how is the West responding?

Nuclear weapons at a glance: Russia, 29 March 2022

This paper briefly examines Russia’s nuclear weapons policies, capabilities and programmes. It is one paper in a larger series on the nuclear weapon states.

Humanitarian situation 

Ukraine crisis: Aid and refugees, 22 April 2022

Describes the potential effect of the conflict in Ukraine and the possibility of a refugee crisis, alongside what aid the UK and others have pledged in 2022.

Organising humanitarian aid and help for Ukraine, 11 March 2022 

Russia’s actions in Ukraine threaten a humanitarian crisis. The Government advises those in the UK seeking to help make cash donations to registered charities.

Ukraine: consular assistance for British nationals, 24 February 2022 

This page summarises consular assistance available to British nationals wishing to leave Ukraine and links to helplines.

The international response

Sanctions 

Sanctions against Russia, 28 April 2022

In response to Russian military action in Ukraine, Western allies and other partners across the globe have imposed an unprecedented package of coordinated sanctions against Russia. What has been announced so far and are further measures likely?

UK’s Overseas Territories and sanctions against Russia, 4 March 2022 

The UK has imposed sanctions against Russia. This paper describes how these sanctions apply in the UK’s Overseas Territories.

UK sanctions against Russia: Arms exports, 3 March 2022 

The UK has banned the export of all dual-use items to Russia in response to conflict in Ukraine.

Military assistance 

Military assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion, 23 March 2022 

What weapons and other military support have been given to Ukraine by the UK, the US and other European countries? What military assistance is NATO and the EU providing also? This paper focuses on the military assistance provided to Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on 24 February 2022.

Military assistance to Ukraine (2014-2021), 25 February 2022 

What military assistance has the UK, the US, NATO and the EU given to Ukraine over the last several years? How did that increase since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and the build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders in 2021?

European Union 

Ukraine’s application to join the EU, 29 March 2022 

How has the EU responded to Ukraine’s application and what would be the process for Ukraine to join the EU?

The EU response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 22 March 2022 

How has the EU responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? This paper provides an overview of the unprecedented set of actions taken by the EU. It also provides background on the EU-Ukraine relationship and how this might develop in the future.

NATO

NATO: Reinforcing its eastern flank, 8 April 2022 

NATO has been increasing its military presence along its eastern borders in response to Russian action.

NATO’s response to Russian military action in Ukraine, 25 February 2022 

NATO has condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine. It held a leaders’ virtual summit on 25 February.

European security: The outcome of talks with Russia, January 2022 

In mid-January 2022 the US, NATO, OSCE and Russia held a series of talks. Prompted by diplomatic efforts to defuse the Ukraine crisis, the focus of the talks became European security more broadly and Russia’s desire to see legally binding security guarantees with respect to its near abroad.

What is NATO?, January 2022 

This paper explains what NATO is, its structure and purpose, and how it has evolved since its formation in 1949.

Africa

Ukraine crisis and Africa, 6 April 2022

This paper discusses the responses to the conflict in Ukraine from across Africa and explores some of the ways the crisis in Ukraine has, and will continue to, affect the continent.

Energy supplies 

EU energy security: Implications for the UK, 17 May 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the fragile state of the EU’s energy security. How has the EU responded and what does this mean for the UK?

Imports of energy from Russia, 13 May 2022 

Imports of Russian gas made up 4% of UK supply in 2021. Oil and coal were higher at 9% and 22%. How have these imports changed in early 2022?

Alternatives to Russian oil: Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and Venezuela?, 11 April 2022 

The US, UK and EU aim to reduce imports of Russian oil and gas. This paper describes the ability of other countries to increase supply and the challenges in achieving this.

Geopolitical implications of Nord Stream 2, 2 March 2022 

The already controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project has taken on greater significance amidst the current crisis in Ukraine. What is the future of the pipeline?

Implications for the UK

Rising cost of living in the UK, 14 April 2022 

This briefing gives an overview of rising prices, particularly food, energy and fuel prices, including the potential impact of the conflict in Ukraine. In addition, other pressures on household budgets like changes to taxes and benefits are discussed, along with the effect of the rising costs of living on low-income households, which are likely to be disproportionately affected.

Countering Russian influence in the UK, 1 April 2022 

Widespread sanctions have been imposed on Russia for its actions in Ukraine. But there are calls for the Government to go further and bring forward long-awaited proposals on countering foreign influence in the UK.

Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022, 23 March 2022 

A Bill to introduce a beneficial ownership register of Overseas Entities owning UK property, and to reform the UK Unexplained Wealth Order and Sanctions regimes.

Background to Spring Statement 2022, 17 March 2022

Due to the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, the coronavirus situation in the UK is greatly improved, compared with the previous two years. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine creates a new crisis. In the UK there was concern about the effect that rising prices, and other factors, are having on household budgets. The Ukraine crisis may push energy and food prices higher still.

Ukraine: UK Immigration concessions, 11 March 2022 

The Government has announced some immigration concessions for some people affected by the crisis in Ukraine. Campaigners are calling for further measures to help a wider range of people in Ukraine.

How many Ukrainians live in the UK?, 7 March 2022 

We don’t know the exact number of Ukrainian people living in the UK, but what can we find from existing data?

Economic update: Ukraine crisis adds to inflationary pressures, 28 February 2022 

What is the potential impact on the UK economy from the conflict in Ukraine?

Relevant historical papers

Sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, March 2015 

Ukraine: Towards a frozen conflict, September 2014 

Ukraine, Crimea and Russia, March 2014 

2014 Ukraine crisis, February 2014


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