Saturday morning, Russian forces declare a ceasefire to allow humanitarian corridors out of the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha. The ceasefire in Mariupol was planned to last until the afternoon the same day, however, local officials in Mariupol say the evacuation has been put on hold, accusing Russian forces of ceasefire violations. Russia’s defence ministry says Ukrainian “nationalists” prevented civilians from leaving.
Russian forces did not push a ground offensive against Kharkiv but have instead diverted forces to the southeast and westward, likely supporting efforts against Kyiv and around Donbas respectively. Russian forces have advanced rapidly on the eastern outskirts of Kyiv, likely from the Sumy axis and may attempt to encircle and/or attack the capital on the east bank of the Dnipro in the coming 24-48 hours.
Despite the ongoing Russian advances in and around the major cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol, they are assessed to remain under Ukrainian control as of Saturday afternoon. The Russian forces have, to this day, made their strongest advance on the Crimea Axis in the southern Ukrainian cities Kherson and Mariupol. Reports state that troops have encircled Mariupol and have considerable combat power to in due course seize or destroy it. The purpose and objective of these forced efforts in the southern areas are not entirely clear. The continued pursuit of objectives along three diverging axes by the same group of forces in Crimea has hindered the Russian military’s ability to generate decisive effects on any of the three.
The Ukraine Armed Forces claimed on Wednesday that Russia is planning to involve the Belarusian army in its invasion and that Belarusian soldiers had been spotted on Ukrainian territory. Although, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reiterated that Belarus would join the invasion, it is likely that they already have committed troops. Due to Belarus’ close ties with Moscow, SRS’s assessment is that a development in this direction cannot be ruled out.
Apart from the regular warfare that is being conducted, information and disinformation campaigns and psychological warfare is being operated from both combatant parties. On March 4, the Kremlin dramatically limited Russia’s already inaccessible domestic information environment and criminalized unfavorable coverage of the war in Ukraine. Thus, setting conditions to improve the domestic efficacy of its information operations. Ukraine, on the other hand, is attempting to increase the flow of information about the invasion to Russian citizens to increase domestic Russian opposition to the war.
SRS has personnel stationed in the city of Lviv. SRS can assist with on-site security coordination, as well as assistance with evacuation, planning and contact with Swedish authorities.
Situational Map and Border Crossings of Interest (last updated 2022-03-05, 14:30 CET). Source: SRS/Reuters.
Due to recent military development and the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries, SRS recommends that expat staff and their families in Russia or in countries aligned with Russia in this conflict to i) register with the Swedish Embassy at se or ii) evacuate to an EU-member state.
COMPANIES AND ORGANISATIONS
If your business is in one of the impacted or neighbouring countries (e.g., Poland, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania or Latvia), SRS recommends updating emergency response plans and security instructions. Prepare evacuation of staff, secure and/or shred sensitive documents and back-up of key information and IT-systems.
Be aware of false information and news sources. Learn more about source criticism at se.
SRS also recommends visiting the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) website (msb.se) to learn more about recommendations and safety precautions in times of crisis.
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