This year August 24 carries double significance for every Ukrainian – it’s the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. At the same time it’s 6 months of Ukraine’s resistance against Russia’s full-scale invasion.
On June 23, the EU leaders approved a recommendation from the European Commission to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. The landmark decision delivered a tremendous morale boost to Ukraine and to Moldova. Even though it takes much effort for Ukrainians to integrate the country with the EU, the support among Ukrainians to join the EU jumped to 87% in a June survey by Rating Group, up from 61% in December. With a great step forward comes responsibility for both sides – for Ukraine it is to ensure implementation of the requirements of the candidacy status, including continuing the reform process. This includes further strengthening the efforts to fight corruption, reform of the entire law enforcement sector, implementing the anti-oligarch law, adopting a media law, and completing the reform of the legislation for national minorities. Nevertheless, in the light of further European integration, Ukraine already adopted crucial documents and reforms required by the EU. The Verkhovna Rada (Parliament of Ukraine) supported the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, adopted the Law ‘On the Principles of State Anti-Corruption Policy for 2021-2025. Also, the Parliament completed selection and appointed head of the the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, as well as appointed Automaidan lawyer Roman Maselko and lawyer Mykola Moroz as members of the High Council of Justice.
As of August 15, 13 212 civilian casualties were recorded as result of Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine: 5514 killed and 7698 injured, mostly caused by shelling and airstrikes. The actual toll is much higher. Since the start of the war, 361 children were killed due to military activities, 714 children injured mostly due to shelling and airstrikes.
As of August 17, 2022, 323 territorial communities are located in the areas of military (combat) operations, or are under temporary occupation, encirclement (blockade). This includes 9 regions – Donetsk (66), Kharkiv (56), Dnipropetrovsk (9), Luhansk (37), Zaporizhzhia (55), Kherson (49), Mykolaiv (25), Sumy (21), Chernihiv (5) regions. As of August 6, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have liberated 1,060 settlements from Russian control since the beginning of the full-scale war.
Since February 24, Russian troops have damaged more than 22 000 civilian objects and only about 300 military facilities in Ukraine. As of August 8, the total amount of direct documented infrastructure damages, based only on public sources, is $110.4 billion. The largest share of losses caused to industry and Ukrainian enterprises — $29.8 billion. In second place in terms of the amount of losses — agro-industrial complex and land resources, for $23.4 billion. Another $18.2 billion — infrastructure losses. At least $44.6 billion is needed to restore destroyed and damaged infrastructure facilities. And the recovery needs for cultural, tourist and sports facilities have increased by $700 million and amount to $2.3 billion.
Ukraine presented the Recovery Plan of Ukraine during the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano. The plan is designed for 10 years – from 2023 to 2032 and the total cost is approximately $750 billion. The first stage would be an immediate implementation plan starting with emergency humanitarian help, such as restoration of water supplies and bridges; a medium-term framework from 2023 to 2025 to bring back life to destroyed communities through reconstruction of schools, hospitals and housing, and finally a long-term modernisation vision from 2026 to 2032 for a Ukrainian green digital economy that finally leaves the Soviet era behind, and prepares the country for eventual EU membership.
Violation of human rights by Russia continues. On July 28, a series of horrifying videos circulated on pro-Russian social media which depicted an act of sexual violence and execution of what appeared to be a Ukrainian prisoner of war. On 29 July 2022, a Russian-operated detention prison in Molodizhne near Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, was destroyed, killing 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) and leaving 75 wounded. Russia keeps in captivity medics, nurses and other medical personnel of the 555th Military Hospital in Mariupol, who worked non-stop for two months under shelling and missile strikes, performing surgery and complicated interventions. All this time, their relatives have had no news regarding their health or whereabouts. On August 16, 2022, the Southern district military court (Rostov-on-Don, Russia) announced another politically motivated sentence that convicted Crimean Tatars to long terms of imprisonment for alleged involvement in the organization ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir.’ Lenur Khalilov and Ruslan Mesutov have been sentenced to 18 years in prison, Ruslan Nahaiev – to 13 years in prison, Eldar Kantimirov – to 12 years in prison. All four were members of the local Muslim community and took an active part in the religious life of Alushta and its neighborhood. An absolute majority of Crimean political prisoners (80) are Crimean Tatars. Seventy-three of them are imprisoned within the “Hizb ut-Tahrir case” (this organization is legal in Ukraine and most countries; however, Russia considers it a terrorist organization). In addition, according to the Russian prosecutors, none of the prisoners prepared or planned terrorist attacks in occupied Crimea or Russia.
As of August 18, around 6 645 000 people have become internally displaced persons in Ukraine due to Russian invasion. 6 657 918 Ukrainian refugees were recorded across Europe. Women make up for 65 percent of internally displaced people within Ukraine and are faced with a sharply increased risk of multiple forms of violence– including conflict-related sexual violence, sexual exploitation and abuse and trafficking. 3.3 million people, primarily women and girls, are in need of gender-based violence prevention and response services.
According to the National Bank of Ukraine assessment, inflation will exceed 30%. In 2022, Ukraine’s economy will shrink by a third. With unblocking of the Black Sea ports there is potential to return to growth in 2023‒2024. According to the NBU, GDP fell by 40% in the second quarter.
906 health care facilities have been damaged, 123 of them were completely destroyed since the beginning of the Russian war in Ukraine. Around 241 ambulances were seized by Russian authorities and 87 ambulances disabled — fired upon, damaged by shrapnel — now they are not on the route. 505 pharmacies were damaged and 47 pharmacies were completely destroyed. 18 civilian medical workers are currently known to have been killed, this is without taking into account those who were mobilized to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and work either in the Medical Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces or as servicemen with weapons. Another 59 civilian medics now have complex injuries.
Before the war Ukraine was an emerging global player in grains and vegoils and ensured food security for 400 mlns across the world. Ukraine’s agriculture sector lost 50 percent of gross output in 2022, and the war is causing liquidity problems for farmers, who have to sell their crops at a discount. More than 630 000 tonnes of grain and other types of food have been shipped from Ukraine’s ports since the start of this month, says the United Nations. The first cargo was loaded on 1 August after Russia lifted its naval blockade of Ukraine, allowing ships to use a safe corridor through the Black Sea. In the first half of August, only 948 000 tonnes were exported, by sea or by land. In the same period last year, the country exported 1,8 million tonnes. Farmers are currently harvesting crops such as wheat but 20 million tons in silos aren’t still cleared, which is causing a storage crisis. An extra 65 million tons of grain and oilseeds are expected to be harvested this summer.
900 protected natural areas of Ukraine have been affected and an estimated 1.2 million hectares, or about 30% of all protected areas of Ukraine, suffer from the effects of war.
2014 schools, universities and other places of education were damaged due to the Russian invasion, 285 have been destroyed completely. The Donetsk region is among the territories most hardly hit: 53 educational objects there have been totally destroyed and 535 damaged.
As of 11 August 2022, there were 464 episodes of war crimes committed by Russians against cultural heritage in Ukraine. Crimes were recorded in 15 regions, and most of the damages were in Kharkiv and Donetsk oblasts, according to the Ministry of culture and information policy of Ukraine. Due to the shelling of the invaders, 139 objects of cultural heritage were destroyed and damaged. In particular, these are 23 monuments of national significance and 109 monuments of local significance, 108 objects of valuable historical development and 7 newly discovered sites of cultural heritage.
Russia committed 428 crimes against journalists and media. As of July 24, the Russian military killed a total of 36 journalists in Ukraine, of which eight journalists were killed while performing their professional duties. Three of them are Ukrainian and five are foreign 14 journalists were injured.