Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed occupied Crimea 10 years ago, setting conditions for the full conquest of Ukraine Putin still seeks.
  • Russian occupation authorities have consistently oppressed Ukrainians on the peninsula — the same charge of which Putin accused the Ukrainian government to justify his invasion — and Russia has since militarized Crimea to support its broader territorial ambitions against Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is attempting to use claimed record levels of voter turnout and support for his presidential candidacy to set informational conditions for a protracted war in Ukraine.
  • Putin responded to French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent proposals to send Western troops to Ukraine by claiming that NATO personnel are already in Ukraine.
  • Putin reemphasized the idea of a “sanitary zone” in Ukraine in a manner congruent with Russian Security Council Deputy Chair Dmitry Medvedev’s recent call for the total elimination of Ukrainian statehood and absorption into the Russian Federation.
  • Putin admitted that the all-Russian pro-Ukrainian volunteer forces are comprised of Russian citizens amid the continuation of cross-border raids into Belgorod Oblast on March 18.
  • Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Spokesperson Maria Zakharova baselessly accused Ukraine of conducting the reported March 17 drone strike against a military base in Transnistria, the pro-Russian breakaway republic of Moldova, likely as part of an ongoing Kremlin hybrid operation aimed at destabilizing Moldova.
  • Russian forces recently made a marginal confirmed advance in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia needs to form a veteran-led Russian “Administrative Corps” as part of the “Time of Heroes” initiative, which will incorporate Russian veterans into the Russian workforce.

Authors: Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, Riley Bailey, and George Barros.

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