March 17, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: French President Macron calls for restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty or ’there will be no peace in Europe’

Institute for the Study of War

French President Emmanuel Macron underlined the necessity for European countries to continue supporting a Ukrainian victory against Russia in order to ensure Ukrainian and European security. Macron stated in a March 16 interview with Ukrainian TV channels 1+1 and My-Ukraina that there will be “no peace in Europe if Ukraine is forced to capitulate.” Macron called on European countries to speed up military assistance deliveries to Ukraine and stated that a “lasting peace” will restore the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and guarantee the security of Ukraine and all of Europe. Macron also implied that negotiations require both Russia and Ukraine to engage in negotiations, highlighting Russia’s unwillingness to engage in legitimate and good-faith negotiations with Ukraine as an equal party. Macron’s emphasis that only Russia and Ukraine can engage in legitimate negotiations directly challenges an ongoing Russian information operation aimed at framing the West as the only meaningful negotiating party in order to convince the West to accept the Kremlin’s premise that Ukraine has no independent agency and to gain concessions from the West that undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Macron also stated in a March 16 interview with French outlet Le Parisien that “perhaps at some point” it would be necessary for French troops to operate on the ground in Ukraine to counter Russian forces but that he “does not want it.” Russian sources hyper-focused on Macron’s response to a question in which he affirmed that he would ask Russia for a ceasefire in Ukraine during the summer 2024 Olympics in Paris. Russian official sources largely rejected Macron’s offer of a ceasefire, citing France’s continued support for Ukraine. Macron stated that France would maintain a message of peace in accordance with the spirit of the Olympic movement but that a message of peace and tolerance does not preclude Ukraine’s need to fully restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Ukrainian State Security Service (SBU), Special Forces (SOF), and Unmanned Systems Forces reportedly conducted a successful drone strike against a Russian oil refinery in Krasnodar Krai on the night of March 16 to 17. Sources in the SBU told Ukrainian outlet Suspilne that the Ukrainian SBU, SOF, and Unmanned Systems Forces struck the crude oil atmospheric distillation columns of the Slavyansk oil refinery in Slavyansk-on-Kuban, Krasnodar Krai, resulting in a large fire. Krasnodar Krai Operational Headquarters claimed that several drones attempted to strike the Slavyansk oil refinery and that Russian forces neutralized them, though falling drones caused a fire. A Russian milblogger claimed that two of 17 drones that targeted the Slavyansk oil refinery struck the facility. Suspilne reported that SBU drones have recently successfully struck 12 oil refineries in Russia. A Russian milblogger claimed that the Ukrainian strike on the Slavyansk oil refinery is the ninth Ukrainian strike on a Russian oil refinery in the past week. Another Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian strikes on oil refineries are more serious than strikes on fuel depots because international sanctions against Russia complicate Russia’s ability to repair technologically complex oil refinery facilities.

Key Takeaways:



  • French President Emmanuel Macron underlined the necessity for European countries to continue supporting a Ukrainian victory against Russia in order to ensure Ukrainian and European security.
  • The Ukrainian State Security Service (SBU), Special Forces (SOF), and Unmanned Systems Forces reportedly conducted a successful drone strike against a Russian oil refinery in Krasnodar Krai on the night of March 16 to 17.
  • Unspecified actors launched a drone at a military base in Transnistria, the pro-Russian breakaway republic in Moldova, on March 17 amidst an assessed ongoing Kremlin hybrid operation aimed at destabilizing Moldova from within.
  • All-Russian pro-Ukrainian volunteer forces reportedly seized a Russian administrative building in the Belgorod Oblast border area amid continued cross-border raids into Belgorod Oblast.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) signaled that it intends to protect the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) against Ukrainian strikes and may have replaced the BSF commander as part of this effort.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Avdiivka and Donetsk City. 
  • Russian authorities continue to militarize children in occupied Ukraine as part of efforts to Russify Ukrainian children and create a resource for Russia’s future force generation needs.

For full report:  https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-17-2024 

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