Click here to see ISW's Interactive Map. This map complements the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW daily produces with high-fidelity and, where possible, street-level assessments of the war in Ukraine.

The West should pay close attention to the Chinese military's preparations for urban combat, as these efforts will have profound effects on China's policy toward Taiwan and elsewhere. 

In this 2019 report, Nataliya Bugayova breaks down the trajectory of Russian foreign policy after the fall of the USSR. She argues that the US mistakingly believed that a brief period of non-assertive foreign policy from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s was the new norm for Russia.

A Russia-prosecuted war in Ukraine, Europe's largest country by landmass and home to 44 million people, would be a generation-defining humanitarian and geopolitical disaster. ISW is closely monitoring Russia's military posturing on Ukraine's border.

The West has had some success in countering the Kremlin since Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has found ways to offset external pressures on Russia without relinquishing his gains and goals.

Latest from ISW

Russian Offensive Campaign Update, February 5, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decisions regarding Ukraine since his initial flawed invasion on February 24, 2022, indicate a likely disconnect between his maximalist objectives and his willingness to take the likely high-risk decisions necessary to achieve them. Putin likely operated under the flawed assumption that Russian forces could force Kyiv to capitulate without any significant military sacrifices and saw Russia’s invasion as a limited and acceptable risk. Captured Russian military plans, for example, revealed that the Kremlin expected Russian forces to capture Kyiv in days, Russian intelligence services reportedly expected the Ukrainian military to collapse, and Kremlin propagandists preemptively published a prewritten article extolling Russia’s “victory” on February 26, 2022. Reports that Putin dismissed the Russian Central Bank’s prescient warnings in February 2022 of the effect of a war in Ukraine on the future of the Russian economy under harsh Western sanctions likely suggest Putin wrongfully assumed the West would not impose major costs on his invasion. The failure of Russian forces in the Battle of Kyiv—and with it the Kremlin’s war plan—forced Putin to face complex decisions as the Kremlin fought an increasingly costly and protracted conventional war. Putin, however, has remained reluctant to order the difficult changes to the Russian military and society that are likely necessary to salvage his war.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 4, 2023

Russian decisive offensive operations are unlikely to target Zaporizhia City from the western Donetsk–Zaporizhia frontline as the Russian military continues to prepare for an offensive in western Luhansk Oblast. Advisor to the exiled Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol, Petro Andryushenko, stated that Russian soldiers in Mariupol are telling residents that the Russian military ordered offensive operations against Vuhledar, areas southwest of Bakhmut, Zaporizhia City and Zaporizhia Oblast. Andryushenko added that Russia is also building up forces at barracks and settlements on roads leading to frontline positions, and that Russia had brought an extra 10,000–15,000 troops to Mariupol and its outskirts. Andryushenko noted the Russian forces reportedly have 30,000 troops in the greater Mariupol area. ISW continues to assess that Russia is concentrating troops and military equipment to stage a decisive offensive on the western Luhansk Oblast and Bakhmut areas.

Iran Crisis Update, February 3, 2023

The Iranian regime is in a steady pattern of escalation with prominent Sunni cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid, which risks stoking sectarian tensions in Iran. Abdol Hamid is an outspoken regime critic who has used his Friday sermons in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchistan Province to inspire weekly demonstrations criticizing regime mistreatment of Iranian Baloch and mistreatment of protesters. Abdol Hamid began facilitating these demonstrations initially in response to the Bloody Friday event in Zahedan on September 30, in which security forces attacked protesters and killed around 100 individuals. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei responded by trying to organize an effort to discredit Abdol Hamid, according to a leaked Fars News Agency bulletin, and dispatching a personal delegation to meet with him in November 2022. Both efforts failed to silence Abdol Hamid and his supporters.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 3, 2023

The Biden administration announced a new $2.2 billion military aid package to Ukraine on February 3, including precision long-range missiles for HIMARS. The package includes Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDM) that will increase the range of HIMARS to 151km from roughly 80km. The package also includes Javelin anti-armor systems, two HAWK air defense firing units, regular HIMARS ammunition, and 120mm mortar and 155mm artillery rounds.

Salafi-Jihadi Movement Weekly Update, February 1, 2023

Iraq. The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham likely made a strategic choice to decrease its attacks in some areas of Iraq to enable their use as transit zones. ISIS continues to use Ninewa province in northwestern Iraq to move supplies and personnel to support its attack cells in eastern Iraq. Iraq’s government is attempting to limit ISIS movements, though Ninewa’s geographic and demographic features challenge this effort. ISIS likely retains some access to rural Arab communities due to Yazidi-Arab tensions stemming from the aftermath of ISIS atrocities and subsequent retribution attacks in the 2014–17 period.

Somalia. The Islamic State is leveraging networks across multiple continents to sustain both new and established affiliates. A US military raid in northern Somalia killed a key ISIS facilitator in northern Somalia. This facilitator oversaw a sprawling financial and logistical support network from Somalia that coordinated trainers and funding to Islamic State affiliates in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique. His death may temporarily disrupt these activities.

Afghanistan-Pakistan. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) significantly escalated its attack campaign against the Pakistani state with a major suicide bombing targeting police in northwestern Pakistan on January 30. Conflicting TTP responses to the attack could demonstrate internal TTP divisions over strategy and ideology. These divisions, as well as tensions between the Afghan Taliban and the TTP faction that conducted the attack, could lead this faction to ally itself with the Islamic State’s branch in the region. Afghan Taliban support for the TTP will continue to strain the Taliban’s relationship with Pakistan and increases the likelihood of Pakistani military action against TTP havens in Afghanistan.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 2, 2023

A Ukrainian intelligence official stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to capture Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by March 2023, supporting ISW’s most likely course of action assessment (MLCOA) for a Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Representative Andriy Chernyak told the Kyiv Post on February 1 that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to capture all of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by March 2023. Chernyak also stated that Russian forces are redeploying additional unspecified assault groups, units, weapons, and military equipment to unspecified areas of eastern Ukraine, likely in the Luhansk Oblast area.