People examine the damage after a shopping mall was bombed in kyiv, Ukraine on March 21. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Russia’s war in Ukraine is approaching a month and the advance of its troops in some key cities, including the capital kyiv, appears to have slowed.

So where is this war going? Here are five things to watch for in the coming weeks.

1. Russia may step up its bombing campaign

Experts warn that the longer Russia is hit on the ground, the more likely it is to step up its aerial bombing campaign and the use of other “ranged” weapons that put Russian soldiers in less danger.

There is little reliable information from Ukraine or Russia on the death toll, but a report in a Russian tabloid on Monday suggested that the Russian side lost nearly 10,000 troops and another 16,000 were killed. wounded.

The Komsomolskaya Pravda website removed the figures later in the day, saying the figures only appeared in the first place because they had been hacked. CNN could not verify the numbers, but the death toll is closer to what US intelligence agencies have reported.

Such casualties, if true, would explain both the blockage of ground movement and the rise in aerial bombardment of key cities and other ranged attacks.

2. With focus on Kyiv, Russia may try to encircle Ukrainian fighters to the east

Much is said about the slowing down of the Russian war effort, but whether or not this is true depends on Moscow’s objectives in the first place.

It is likely that Russia is trying, at the very least, to absorb parts of eastern Ukraine. Regions like Donetsk and Luhansk, which make up the Donbass region, have been controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, and although Russia’s ambitions may extend beyond the Donbass, this is probably still a central target, according to experts.

“The Southern Military District — in Donetsk, Luhansk, Mariupol, Berdyansk, Melitopol — they are the best troops in the Russian army. And they are still working. They are designed to fight NATO,” said Sam Cranny- Evans, a research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, told CNN.

3. There will be more talk about the talks

One scenario is that the war in Ukraine could become a protracted conflict. It is likely that Russia has lost a significant number of soldiers, weapons and equipment during the war, and even though it has been involved in long-standing conflicts in the past, it will not want to leave this one. here with his army totally destroyed.

“Negotiations are the only area where things look a bit promising because Russia and Ukraine said last week that they were heading for a real substantive discussion, instead of Russia just issuing an ultimatum. “, Keir Giles, a Russian expert at the British think tank Chatham House, told CNN.

Russian officials have said their demands include that Ukraine renounce joining NATO and demilitarize and adopt a “neutral” status, as Austria and Sweden have done. But the terms of what that means for Ukraine would have to be negotiated.

4. There could be mass “deportations” of Ukrainians to Russia. It’s worrying

Russia has told residents of the southern city of Mariupol to leave as it continues an aggressive aerial bombardment that has torn the city to pieces. His forces have opened what they call “humanitarian corridors” to allow civilians to flee, but tens of thousands of them have been transported to Russia.

Russian media organization RIA Novosti reported that nearly 60,000 residents of Mariupol had reached Russian territory “safely”. Russian media showed lines of vehicles apparently heading east to the border, about 40 kilometers from Mariupol.

But the Mariupol council accused Russia of forcing residents into Russia against their will.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said “what the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people” .

5. Millions more Ukrainians could flee, leaving a nation in pieces

The fate of the war is one thing, but the fate of Ukraine is another.

Already, more than 3.5 million Ukrainians have left the country. Most are women and children, which means families are also torn apart. The war triggered the largest refugee movement Europe had seen since World War II. These numbers are increasing at a rate of approximately 100,000 people per day.

If you include the number of internally displaced people, 10 million Ukrainians have now left their homes. That’s almost a quarter of the country’s population.

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5 things that could happen in Ukraine next |  CNN