Last week in Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia, amid the ongoing Russian military invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces continued to target energy infrastructure across Ukraine with missile and drone strikes. Russia imposed martial law in Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine, as well as various states of ‘preparedness’ across Russia, increasing the emergency powers of authorities. Ceasefire violations continued along the Armenia-Azerbaijan Line of Contact. Meanwhile, the death of Mahsa Amini and rising living costs continued to spark demonstrations across Europe.
In Ukraine, fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces continued in the eastern and southern regions of the country last week. While Ukrainian officials have maintained silence about recent developments in their ongoing counteroffensive operation, some Russian sources reported the renewal of Ukrainian assaults in the southern Kherson region (ISW, 16 October 2022). In the Donetsk region, Russian forces continued their attempts to seize the strategically important Bakhmut area (Washington Post, 16 October 2022).
Russian forces continued to strike Ukrainian cities with Iranian Shahed-136 drones and various types of missiles last week, destroying critical infrastructure and reportedly killing over 20 civilians. Such attacks continued to drive demonstration activity across Europe, with rallies against the invasion and in solidarity with Ukraine taking place in Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Romania. Additionally, in Georgia, Poland, and Ukraine, people protested against the supply of Iranian drones to the Russian army.
Meanwhile, on 19 October, Russia imposed martial law in four partially occupied regions of Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson – that were annexed last month. The enactment of martial law grants sweeping emergency powers to Russian-installed governors to meet the needs of the Russian army. The law establishes local ‘territorial defense’ headquarters and allows authorities to forcibly resettle civilians and set curfews (Al Jazeera, 20 October 2022).
The Russian government also imposed various levels of martial law ‘preparedness’ across Russia and in occupied Crimea. In Crimea and the Russian border regions of Kursk, Bryansk, Belgorod, Rostov, Krasnodar, and Voronezh, the government imposed a ‘medium-level’ of preparedness, granting authorities powers to relocate residents, to limit the movement of vehicles, and to enact additional security measures at infrastructure sites. Other Russian regions were assigned ‘enhanced’ and ‘basic’ preparedness levels, also providing authorities with extra powers to adopt security measures (RFE/RL, 19 October 2022; The Moscow Times, 20 October 2022).
The introduction of martial law ‘preparedness’ regimes coincided with reports of increased cross-border shelling in Russia. Last week, the governors of the Belgorod and Kursk regions reported 15 incidents of cross-border shelling that hit villages close to the Russia-Ukraine border and damaged infrastructure (The Moscow Times, 18 October 2022). In one incident, an explosion caused a fire at an oil storage facility in Belgorod (TV Rain, 15 October 2022). This violence contributed to the 192% increase in average weekly violent events in Russia in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks.
Separately, several Tajik nationals who recently signed contracts to join the Russian army opened fire at a military training base in Soloti on 15 October, triggering an armed clash. At least 13 people, including the two assailants, were reportedly killed during the shooting. According to some reports, the attack came after a senior officer made derogatory comments regarding their faith (ASTRA, 16 October 2022). At least one of the shooters was reportedly recently pressured to join the military through beatings and threats while in prison (Activatica, 18 October 2022).
Daily ceasefire violations continued along the Armenia-Azerbaijan Line of Contact last week, despite the arrival of a technical group from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Armenia (JAM news, 20 October 2022). The OSCE mission arrived on 21 October at the invitation of Armenia to assess the situation in the border areas following the escalation in fighting in mid-September. Azerbaijani authorities have voiced their opposition to the visit, and as such, the mission is unlikely to foster dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan (Asbarez, 24 October 2022).
All ceasefire violations recorded in Armenia last week took place in the Gegharkunik region, contributing to the 100% increase in violent events in Gegharkunik last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. The Subnational Tracker also warned of increased violence in Gegharkunik during the preceding four weeks. Additionally, two Azerbaijani civilians were wounded in a landmine explosion in the Lachin region.
Meanwhile, the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran continued to spark solidarity gatherings across Europe last week for a fifth consecutive week. Rallies in support of the ongoing protests and women’s rights in Iran were observed in Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Demonstration activity linked to rising living costs, inflation, and energy prices also continued across the region last week, with cross-sector protests held in Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In France, more than 120 such demonstration events were recorded across the country on 18 October, coinciding with a cross-sector strike against inflation and the rising costs of living. This is the second cross-sector strike within the past month. Demonstrations turned violent in Paris and Rennes, where clashes resulted in the arrests of 11 demonstrators and left eight police officers injured.
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED. Use the date filters to view data for the one-week period covered by this Regional Overview.