If the US and NATO are prepared to shut down their skies over Ukraine, should they also open the land borders? This is the question that the US and Russia are grappling with in the present situation. As of this writing, there are no such agreements, but the United States has been providing Ukrainian officials with intelligence for the past week. And, in an unexpected turn of events, the US has even paid a visit to Kyiv.

Russian warship damaged in the Black Sea

Reports of damage to a Russian warship in the Black Sea have not been confirmed, but it is believed the ship is the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. The warship, which is over 600 feet long, carries 16 Vulkan anti-ship missiles and was equipped with an array of mine-torpedo and anti-submarine weapons. In the past, Russia has sent the Moskva to Syria to protect its forces during the conflict with Syria.

The Russian state news agency TASS reported that a guided-missile cruiser sank in the Black Sea on Saturday. The cruiser, which is the flagship of Moscow's Black Sea fleet, had 510 crew members on board, according to a statement by the Russian Ministry of Defense. The attack is suspected to have been a result of an explosion and fire, according to the Russian government. The cause of the explosion and fire are being investigated, although the damage was reportedly caused by ammunition fire.

While no definitive proof exists, US officials believe that the version given by Ukraine's government is true. Although they have not yet provided independent attribution, it is important to note that if the Moskva has been hit, it will surely damage Russian pride. If the Russian government was to attack another warship, it would likely do so with the intent of attacking the Ukrainian military. The alleged chemical attack on the ship may be an attempt by Russia to regain control of Mariupol.

Russia has already halted its gas pipeline project with Ukraine, and has pledged to increase its defence spending, but the situation continues to escalate. While the war in Ukraine is still in its early stages, Russia has already claimed to have made advances in Mariupol. Heavy fighting has left civilians dead in the city. In a video broadcasted by Russian state television, dozens of Russian men in camouflage walked with their hands up and carried other injured men in stretchers. One man was even seen waving a white flag.

United States providing intelligence to the Ukrainians

The recent news of the United States providing intelligence to the Ukrainians differs from the practice of past conflicts in which the U.S. worked with allies to counter insurgents. In Iraq, for example, the U.S. military partnered with Iraqi forces to track down insurgents and attack them using cellular phone data tracked by the National Security Agency. Since then, the U.S. intelligence community has also provided security services with tracking capabilities in Africa.

Ukraine received information from the United States in April that confirmed the Russian warship's identity, enabling it to sink the ship in the Black Sea. Those officials claimed the United States provided them with the location of the warship before it struck its shores. But some question whether the United States is providing useful intelligence, or if it is only risking drawing Ukraine deeper into war. The US provided intelligence to the Ukrainians before the vessel was sunk, which would have helped Ukraine protect the city and evacuate civilians.

A European official questioned the reliability of US intelligence, saying the main problem was the predictability of Russian officers. Their strict Soviet-era doctrine required them to visit the frontlines, where Ukrainian snipers were waiting for them. Although this is a major problem, US officials stressed that Ukraine was responsible for making its own targeting decisions and used multiple sources to get information. The CIA, the Pentagon, and other intelligence agencies have been criticized for leaking their classified information to the media.

Despite such criticism, the White House's National Security Council recently denied providing intelligence to Ukraine. Nevertheless, President Biden's administration is ramping up its support for Ukraine. He has asked Congress to approve $33 billion in military, economic, and humanitarian assistance for the conflict in Ukraine. This is nearly twice as much aid as the U.S. has given the country. If it is indeed providing intelligence to the Ukrainians, the escalation potential in Putin's eyes is substantial.

Artillery and missile strikes continue in Kyiv

Russian forces have continued to fire rockets into the Ukrainian city of Kiev. Those who witnessed the strikes said they heard gunshots and saw the debris falling from a high-rise building in the Shevchenkivskyi district, a new and sparsely populated area. A video posted on Klitschko's Facebook account showed rescuers dismantling the building's debris. The Russian invasion has left at least four children dead and 435 injured.

In recent days, Russian forces have reframed their military priorities, which explains the ongoing artillery and missile strikes in Kyiv. While they did not conduct offensive operations in Kyiv, they are likely to continue shelling Ukrainian forces and residential areas in the area in the coming days. Whether or not Russian forces will be able to renew large-scale combat operations in eastern Ukraine will depend on the extent of Russian losses in Mariupol.

Russian forces continued to conduct limited offensive operations northwest of Kyiv on March 14, but failed in bridging the Irpin River. Despite the lack of progress in eastern Ukraine, Russian forces continue to make slow but steady gains in Donetsk Oblast. While the offensive operations continue to deplete Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, they have been unable to secure any territory there. However, Ukrainian forces have made some gains and are now halting Russian attacks on the city.

As part of these counterattacks, Ukrainian forces have taken advantage of Russian forces' limited withdrawals from the eastern outskirts of Kiev. They have also captured territory in Kherson Oblast and Sumy Oblast. This indicates that they are likely to continue gaining ground in these areas over the next few days. Meanwhile, Russian forces continue to make slow progress in Mariupol and Donetsk Oblast, while assaults have largely failed elsewhere.

United States visits Kyiv

Two groups of civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel works area in Mariupol, according to Russian news agencies. Russia has provided food and shelter to the 46 civilians who have been displaced. In a related development, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi makes an unannounced visit to Kyiv. The Democratic Party leader is second in line to the presidency and meets with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Pelosi's visit is captured

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for an end to the conflict in the eastern part of the country. He also said that Russia is prepared to help Ukraine set up a safe passage corridor for ships carrying food and supplies. Meanwhile, he has visited Kyiv to press U.S. senator Rand Paul to drop his opposition to a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. The visit comes as a surprise for both sides.

Diplomacy must remain in play in midst of aggressive warfare

There are several challenges for effective diplomacy in the midst of aggressive warfare. First, the new administration must establish the bureaucratic arrangements necessary to effectively engage in diplomacy. The new administration will not be distracted by domestic challenges and divisions between "regime changers" and "engagers." Secondly, diplomacy must be effective in bringing U.S. resources into play. Third, it must work around the preoccupation with domestic issues. For this, a senior envoy must be appointed with the authority to formulate policy.