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In the first half of November, Ukrainian forces regained control of Kherson city and the western Kherson region. As of late November, Russian forces controlled about one-fifth of Ukrainian territory, spanning from Crimea in the south to the Donbas region in the east. Heavy fighting continues to be reported in the east as Russian forces make advancements toward Bakhmut city in Donetsk oblast of the Donbas region. Meanwhile, both sides continue to employ air and missile strikes, with the southern Zaporizhzhia region among the worst affected. Overall, Russia continues to engage in high-casualty military campaigns that the Institute for the Study of War considers to be concentrated on objectives “of limited operational or strategic significance.” However, a significant slowdown in ground military operations is expected as the winter intensifies in December.
Russia has continued to target Ukrainian energy infrastructure at increased intensity in recent months as part of a strategy to increase stress on the civilian population during the cold winter months. Since October, Russia has reportedly fired over 600 missiles at infrastructure targets nationwide. On November 23, missile attacks on energy facilities across the country led to widespread power outages. As of November 30, an estimated 1.5 million residents in Kyiv were still experiencing power blackouts for more than 12 hours a day. Though businesses have proven resilient, power outages are threatening essential health care services and leaving many without heat in freezing temperatures. In this environment, generators are now often sold out or prohibitively expensive for households. As the winter progresses and ground operations slow, Russian forces are expected to intensify attacks on infrastructure including the electrical grid and water supply systems.
On November 17, Russia agreed to a four-month extension of the safe corridor deal that permits Ukrainian exports to pass safely through the Black Sea. This development contributed to a slight 1.3 percent decline in FAO’s global cereal price index in November, but prices remain 6.3 percent higher than the same time last year and well above 2020 and 2019. Meanwhile, delays in export inspections – which Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of deliberately hindering through their participation as inspectors of the Joint Center alongside Turkey and the UN – continued to constrain the pace of exports in November. To date in the 2022/23 marketing year (July 2022 to June 2023), Ukrainian exports of cereals and legumes remain nearly 30 percent lower than the amount exported in the same period of the previous marketing year.
In late November, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky announced the launch of the Grain from Ukraine initiative, which aims to send up to 60 ships carrying subsidized grain to poor and food insecure countries by the middle of 2023. Recipient countries – largely in Africa and the Middle East – have experienced domestic food price increases that have exacerbated other domestic and regional drivers of acute food insecurity. The initiative is being supported by an international coordination group for the prevention of hunger, and donors include governments, NGOs, and private sector companies. However, the share of costs that recipient countries will be responsible for remains unclear, and the initiative will likely be challenged by export inspection delays.
This Key Message Update provides a broad summary of FEWS NET's current and projected analysis of likely acute food insecurity outcomes in this geography. Learn more about our work here.