Conflict Risk Alerts

Ukraine

Month saw relative calm in Kyiv region as Russian forces withdrew to launch new offensive in east, where fighting could worsen as it edges closer to urban areas. Russian troops by 2 April had vacated stretch of land between Kyiv’s north-western suburbs and Belarusian border, as well as Chernihiv and Sumy regions, north east of Kyiv. Following Russian troops’ departure, authorities said they had recovered over 1,000 bodies of murdered civilians, most notably in Bucha, and alleged war crimes. Russian forces continued attacks in east. Notably, Russia 1 April captured Izium city south east of Kharkiv city; Russian missile 8 April struck train station in Donetsk city of Kramatorsk, killing at least 50. Marking new phase of war, Kremlin 10 April appointed General Alexander Dvornikov to oversee invasion. Russia late-April launched new offensive in Donbas. Notably, Russia 20 April seized eastern town of Kreminna in Luhansk. Ukrainian forces 29 April claimed they regained Ruska Lozova north of Kharkiv; fighting could worsen in east, as it comes closer to urban areas in Severodonetsk and Sloviansk/Kramatorsk area. In south, besieged Donbas port city of Mariupol remained worst affected hotspot with 100,000 people encircled. President Putin 21 April claimed Russian forces took city, although Ukrainian forces remained holed up in Azovstal steel plant; after talks between UN Sec Gen Antonio Guterres and Putin in Moscow on 26 April, UN 30 April reportedly began limited evacuations of civilians from steel plant. Governor of Odessa 13 April announced Ukrainian forces attacked flagship Russian missile cruiser Moskva, which caught fire and sank; large number of 500-member crew remained unaccounted for. On humanitarian front, UN 17 April estimated 7.7mn people internally displaced, 5.3 mn refugees, although exodus reportedly slower than March due to greater security in Kyiv region. On diplomatic front, UN Human Rights Council 7 April suspended Russia. Zelenskyy hosted EU, UK, U.S. officials in capital Kyiv, who promised more sanctions and weapons. Talks between Kyiv and Moscow were limited to humanitarian corridors and exchanges of prisoners, as sides focus on battlefield outcomes in Donbas. Guterres 28 April visited Kyiv and sites of suspected war crimes; Russian airstrikes hit city during visit.

Yemen

In major breakthrough, fighting slowed and cross-border attacks halted after warring parties agreed two-month truce, while President Hadi handed over power to new presidential council. In first coordinated cessation of hostilities since 2016, UN Envoy Hans Grundberg 1 April announced two-month nationwide truce starting next day between Hadi govt and Huthis, which includes cessation of military operations and cross-border attacks, opening of Sanaa airport for biweekly commercial flights to Jordan and Egypt, permission for around 18 fuel ships to enter Huthi-controlled Hodeida port, and negotiations over opening road access to besieged Taiz city. Fighting slowed significantly following announcement of truce: Saudi-led coalition airstrikes and Huthi cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia halted, while fighting around Marib city persisted at low level. Grundberg 6 April expressed concern over “some hostile military activities”, especially around Marib, while absence of mechanism to monitor violations leaves truce fragile; collapse of deal could see swift return to front-line fighting and cross-border attacks. In first visit since taking office, Grundberg 11 April travelled to capital Sanaa and met senior Huthi officials. First commercial flight from Sanaa International Airport in six years was postponed 24 April after disputes over passports being used by travellers. Amid Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-led consultations in Saudi capital Riyadh and reportedly under pressure from Saudi Arabia, President Hadi 7 April announced removal of VP Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and transferred executive authority to new Presidential Leadership Council led by veteran politician and security official Rashad al-Alimi; Council includes diverse anti-Huthi factions and equal number of northern and southern leaders. Al-Alimi 8 April promised to “end the war and achieve peace”. Al-Alimi and other council members arrived in southern Aden city from Saudi Arabia and were sworn in 19 April with UN envoy and EU and GCC ambassadors in attendance. Following formation of presidential council, Saudi Arabia 7 April announced $3bn financial aid to govt, $1bn of which United Arab Emirates will supply, and $300mn for UN aid response; subsequently, Yemeni riyal nearly doubled in value from around 1,000 to about 650 YR to dollar, but subsequently declined.

Moldova

Unknown assailants launched armed attack on de facto ministry in breakaway Transnistria, as concerns rose incident could signal spillover from Ukraine war. De facto interior ministry of breakaway territory Transnistria – located along Ukrainian border and controlled by Russian-speaking separatists since 1992 – 25 April reported attack on de facto security ministry allegedly involving grenade-launchers; no casualties reported. Moldova’s foreign ministry same day said aim of incident “is to create pretexts for straining the security situation in the Transnistrian region”. Ukrainian intelligence directorate 26 April said incident “is one of a number of acts of provocation organised by [Russian intelligence services] to incite panic and anti-Ukrainian sentiment” and “justify the war on the territory of Ukraine in order to involve the [Transnistrian] region in combat”. De facto head of region Vadim Krasnoselsky 26 April said “traces of these attacks lead to Ukraine”. Russian major general 22 April reportedly said Russian control of southern Ukraine could provide access to Transnistria, where estimated 1,500 Russian troops are stationed.

Iraq

Deadlocked govt formation led to unprecedented constitutional impasse, Turkey launched new operation against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and Islamic State (ISIS) stepped up attacks during Ramadan. Govt formation remained stalled after last month’s failed attempts to achieve two-thirds quorum in parliament, leaving country in unprecedented situation that upends constitutional timeline for parliament to appoint president within 30 days of speaker’s election (completed in mid-Jan); constitution requires president to appoint PM. Following Shiite cleric and leader of bloc that won largest share of seats in Oct 2021 parliamentary election Muqtada al-Sadr’s announcement late March that he would give rivals in Shia Coordination Framework 40 days to negotiate with his allies Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Sunni Sovereignty Alliance to form govt, KDP and Sovereignty Alliance 1 April issued statement reaffirming commitment to Tripartite Alliance with Sadr, now rebranded “Saving the homeland” bloc. Hundreds of demonstrators 15 April protested political deadlock in capital Baghdad. Turkish military 17-18 April launched new operation against PKK in northern Iraq dubbed “Claw-Lock”; fighter jets targeted infrastructure and bases used by PKK militants in Metina, Zab and Avashin-Basyan regions; Turkish Defence Ministry next day announced killing at least 19 militants. President Salih 19 April called attack threat to Iraq’s national security and Foreign Ministry 20 April summoned Turkey’s envoy. As part of yearly uptick in attacks during Ramadan, ISIS conducted over dozen attacks against security forces in central regions. Notably, Security Media Cell 4 April announced that alleged ISIS suicide bomber injured at least four soldiers in Nwegeit mountains, Ninewa province, while Iraqi troops killed three militants. Counter-ISIS operations continued throughout month. In Ninewa governorate, suspected Hashd al-Shaabi-linked militant groups 3-4 April launched rockets on Turkey’s Zilkan military base in Bashiqa town; three missiles launched from Hamdaniya district in Ninewa 6 April targeted oil refinery in Khabat district, Erbil governorate. U.S.-led international coalition 8 April announced downing drone targeting Ain al-Assad airbase in Anbar governorate. Unknown attackers 15 April launched explosives-laden drone at Hashd al-Shaabi base in Tal Afar district, which injured one commander, possibly in retaliation for 6 April attack.

Check Also

OPEC Plus’s Accelerated Oil Production Pales in Comparison to Lost Output from US Sanctions

The global economy has suffered several shocks since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. These …