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 Assessment, February 8, 2023

Russian forces have regained the initiative in Ukraine and have begun their next major offensive in Luhansk Oblast. The pace of Russian operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line in western Luhansk Oblast has increased markedly over the past week, and Russian sources are widely reporting that conventional Russian troops are attacking Ukrainian defensive lines and making marginal advances along the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border, particularly northwest of Svatove near Kupyansk and west of Kreminna. Geolocated combat footage has confirmed Russian gains in the Dvorichne area northwest of Svatove. Russian military command additionally appears to have fully committed elements of several conventional divisions to decisive offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line, as ISW previously reported. Elements of several regiments of the 144th and 3rd Motor Rifle Division (20th Combined Arms Army, Western Military District) and a regiment of the 90th Tank Division (Central Military District), supported by elements of the 76th Airborne Division and unspecified Southern Military District elements, are conducting offensive operations along the entire Svatove-Kreminna line and are reportedly advancing against Ukrainian defenses.

Iran Update, February 8, 2023

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani traveled to Aleppo City, Syria on February 8. Iranian state media reported on Ghaani’s visit and published a video of him overseeing humanitarian operations in response to the February 6 earthquake that has devastated southern Turkey and northwest Syria. A pro-regime social media account also posted images of Ghaani meeting with an unspecified Iranian field commander.

Iran Update, February 7, 2023

Multiple Iranian political factions, including hardliners, are coalescing around the assessment that the regime has lost touch with its people. Former moderate President Hassan Rouhani continued to frame the deepening divides between Iranian leadership and its population as an urgent threat and suggested that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has failed to sufficiently address such divides on February 7. Rouhani described Khamenei’s efforts to grant amnesty to and commute the sentences of “tens of thousands” of prisoners and arrested protesters as “a starting point.” Rouhani called on the regime to pursue policies aimed at addressing protester grievances, including reviving the Joint Comprehensive Joint of Action and easing ongoing internet restrictions. Rouhani also stated that actions that damage “human dignity. . . go against national security and public interests,” inverting the regime’s narrative that anti-regime dissidents and critics threaten Iranian internal security. Rouhani previously criticized the regime for marginalizing moderate and reformist actors in the Iranian political sphere in an interview on February 1, as CTP previously reported.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 7, 2023

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a press conference on the status of the war on February 7, likely in an attempt to posture the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) as an effective and involved leadership apparatus as the Russian military prepares for a renewed major offensive in Ukraine. Shoigu claimed that Russian forces are successfully developing operations near Bakhmut and Vuhledar and claimed that Russian troops have recently taken control of Soledar, Klishchiivka, Pidhorodne, Krasnopolivka, Blahodatne, and Mykolaivka in the Bakhmut area and Lobkove in Zaporizhia Oblast. Shoigu likely held this press conference in order to create the guise of formality and legitimacy for the Russian MoD as it continues efforts to reform the Russian military, prepare for a renewed offensive, and set conditions for prolonged operations in Ukraine. ISW has previously noted that Russian officials are preparing for an imminent Russian offensive in Ukraine in the coming months, and that these preparations are also happening on the strategic level with Russian command structures.

Iran Update, February 6, 2023

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has taken several public-facing measures in recent days likely to alleviate public frustrations toward the regime. Khamenei met with a group of schoolgirls on February 3, during which he celebrated the role of women of Iranian history and society. Iranian state-run media widely promoted images from the event, showcasing a particularly ham-fisted regime propaganda effort. Khamenei was likely responding in part to the public criticisms of the regime mistreatment of women during the Mahsa Amini protests. Khamenei separately granted amnesty to and commuted the sentences of “tens of thousands” of protesters on January 6. The regime will require eligible detainees to “express remorse,” essentially pleading guilty, according to some reports. It is unclear on what charges and legal grounds the regime had detained these protesters to this point. The Iranian constitution requires that law enforcement agencies submit to judicial authorities an explanation of the charges for each individual no more than 24 hours after their arrest, but it is unclear whether the regime has followed such standards in its detention of thousands of protesters.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 6, 2023

Ukrainian officials assess that Russian forces are preparing to launch a large-scale decisive offensive in eastern Ukraine in mid-to-late February. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov stated on February 5 that the Ukrainian military is expecting Russia to start its decisive offensive around February 24 to symbolically tie the attack to the first anniversary of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Reznikov also clarified that the Ukrainian military has not observed the formation of Russian offensive groups in the Kharkiv and Chernihiv directions or Belarus; Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Nataliya Humenyuk noted that Russian forces are likely concentrating on launching offensive operations in the east rather than in southern Ukraine. An unnamed advisor to the Ukrainian military told Financial Times that Russia intends to launch an offensive in the next 10 days (by February 15), a timeline that would allow Russian forces to strike Ukrainian positions before the arrival of Western tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. Luhansk Oblast Administration Head Serhiy Haidai stated that Russian forces are continuing to deploy reserves to Luhansk Oblast to strike after February 15.