Russia’s War in Ukraine: Key Events and How It’s Unfolding

A visual timeline of the war.

(Bloomberg) — Russian President Vladimir Putin launched Europe’s biggest military assault since World War II with his Feb. 24, 2022 invasion of Ukraine, killing thousands of people, driving millions more from their homes, shaking the post-Cold War geopolitical order and roiling global markets.

After initially losing territory, Ukraine’s over-matched military unexpectedly fought Russian forces to a standstill in the north, prompting the Kremlin to refocus its attack on the eastern Donbas region. Then Kyiv’s forces launched counterassaults in the fall, taking back a fifth of territory first taken by Moscow.

Here’s a timeline of the main events so far.

FEBRUARYTroops Enter Ukraine

Feb. 24, 2022: Russia launches its attack from three directions — Belarus in the north, the Donbas region in the east, and from Crimea, which Putin seized in 2014, in the south. The US and European Union announce sanctions targeting Russia’s financial sector, technology imports and oligarchs. Russian stocks and the ruble plunge.

Feb. 25: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy rejects calls to flee Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, says his forces are fighting back, and calls for international support and for weapons. The EU imposes sanctions on Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Feb. 27: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announces plans for a massive boost in defense spending in a historic policy shift. Germany plegdges to channel €100 billion ($107 billion) to modernize the military and meet the NATO spending target of 2% of gross domestic product on defense by 2024.

Feb. 28: Ukraine applies for EU membership. Accession to the bloc is a long and arduous process that normally takes years and requires the candidate to adopt established EU law and enact reforms, including to its judicial and economic systems. 

MARCHSiege and Sanctions

March 1, 2022: Russian forces begin the siege of Mariupol, a port city with about 450,000 residents on the Sea of Azov.

March 2: The EU excludes seven Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system and suspends broadcasting by media outlets Russia Today and Sputnik. 

March 4: Russian forces occupy the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, in an attack that Ukrainian officials say ignited a fire and Lithuania’s president calls “nuclear terrorism.”  The number of refugees displaced inside and outside Ukraine surpasses a million, a number that will grow to an estimated 16 million — or more than a third of the pre-war population, according to the UNHCR refugee agency.

March 8: The US and UK announce a ban on all imports of Russian oil.

March 10: The first high-level talks between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Russia’s Lavrov fail to make progress, with Kuleba saying the Kremlin is demanding that Kyiv surrender. The UK freezes the assets of Roman Abramovich as the EU approves sanctions against more wealthy Russians and more than 140 Russian lawmakers. 

March 13: Russian missiles hit a Ukrainian military training facility that had been used by NATO forces before the invasion. The attack near the western city of Lviv close to the Polish frontier killed 35 and wounded 134, and raised concern the war could spill over Ukraine’s borders.

Read More: Tracking the Sanctions Imposed on Russia Over Ukraine Invasion

March 16: At least 300 people are killed by a Russian air strike on the Mariupol Drama Theater, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Read More: Panicked Russians Don’t Buy Official Advice That Economy Is Fine

March 25: Germany’s government announces plans to stop almost all Russian oil imports this year and broadly wean itself off of the country’s gas by mid-2024. 

March 29: After Ukrainian forces halt Russia’s advance toward Kyiv, inflicting thousands of casualties and destroying hundreds of aircraft, armored vehicles, and other weapons, the Kremlin says it will sharply cut military operations near the capital. 

APRILEvidence of War Crimes

April 1, 2022: Russia pulls back its forces from the decommissioned nuclear power plant in Chernobyl and accuses Ukraine of raising radiation exposure risks. Kyiv blames Russia after digging trenches at the highly contaminated site.  

April 3: Evidence of mass killings and other atrocities surfaces after Russian troops withdraw from Bucha and other areas around Kyiv. The EU condemns what it says may be war crimes and begins work on new sanctions. The Kremlin repeatedly denies targeting civilians.

April 8: At least 52 people are killed and more than 100 wounded when at least one Russian cruise missile carrying cluster munitions hit the main train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, Ukrainian officials said. 

April 10: Ukraine is investigating thousands suspected war crimes linked to Russia’s invasion, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova says, calling Putin “the main war criminal of the 21st century.” Around this time Russia appoints General Alexander Dvornikov, who oversaw Moscow’s forces in Syria in 2015 and 2016, as top commander for the war.

April 12: Putin says peace talks with Ukraine are “at a dead end” and the invasion is proceeding “according to plan.”  

Read More: Russian Troops Risk Repeating Blunders If They Try for May 9 Win

April 13: Biden for the first time accuses Putin of committing “genocide” in Ukraine. 

April 14: Russia’s Black Sea flagship, the missile cruiser Moskva, is sunk.

MAYFood Shortages

May 4, 2022: The EU announces plans to ban Russian crude oil over the next six months as part of a sixth round of sanctions. 

May 14: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accuses Russia of deliberately provoking a global food crisis to try to weaken the international alliance against its war by destroying transport routes and storage facilities for Ukrainian grain and Moscow’s blockade on Ukraine’s sea ports since the war started.

May 15: NATO members rally around Finland and Sweden after they announced plans to join the alliance. 

May 17: The EU considers issuing joint debt and explores using proceeds from assets that were seized from sanctioned oligarchs to fund the reconstruction of Ukraine. 

May 21: Russia takes the Sea of Azov port city of Mariupol, with the surrender of the last defenders of the Azovstal steel plant. Biden signs a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine.

JUNENATO and EU Expansion 

June 16, 2022: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s then-Premier Mario Draghi visit Kyiv as the EU prepares to make Ukraine an official candidate for membership.

June 23: EU leaders grant Ukraine candidate status in a historic step for the war-torn nation on the long and difficult path to membership. 

June 29: NATO leaders at a summit in Madrid formally invite Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance. Turkey warns that it would veto membership if the two Nordic countries don’t fulfill promises to extradite suspects it considers to be “terrorists.”

June 30: Ukraine regains control of Snake Island in the Black Sea in a major victory.

JULYThe Cost of Reconstruction

July 3, 2022: Ukrainian troops withdraw from the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk, the last urban holdout under Kyiv’s control in the embattled Luhansk region.

July 4: Ukraine unveils a blueprint for reconstruction in which it indicates it needs more than $750 billion over the next 10 years.

July 22: Russia attacks the port of Odesa with cruise missiles just hours after signing a deal to unblock Ukrainian grain exports from three Black Sea terminals that was hailed as a vital step toward alleviating a global food crisis.

AUGUSTThe Ukrainian Counteroffensive 

Aug. 30: Ukraine starts an assault in the southern Kherson region that later becomes a full counteroffensive in the fall, pushing Russian troops into retreat. 

SEPTEMBERThe Russian Mobilization

Sept. 2, 2022: The Group of Seven most industrialized countries agree to impose a price cap for global purchases of Russian oil.

Sept. 11: Ukraine retakes thousands of square kilometers of occupied territory in the northern Kharkiv region in a counteroffensive that exploits an extraordinary collapse of Russian defenses.

Sept. 21: Tens of thousands of Russian men and their families flood to the border and sporadic protests break out as Putin orders the mobilization of another 300,000 troops. 

Sept. 23: Russia holds “referendums” to annex the four regions of Ukraine it partially occupies that United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls a “violation of the UN Charter and international law.”

Sept. 27: Two powerful underwater explosions damage the Nord Stream pipeline that transports Russian gas to Germany. 

Sept. 30: The international community denounces Putin after he claims he has annexed the four occupied regions of Ukraine, including territory he doesn’t fully control, making them part of Russia “forever.” Ukraine formally applies to join NATO.  

OCTOBERNew Russian Commander

Oct. 8, 2022: A blast targeting a fuel train damages Putin’s flagship bridge to Crimea, causing a partial collapse of the only road link running from the Russian mainland to the occupied Black Sea peninsula.

Oct. 9: Putin for the first time publicly puts a single general — Sergei Surovikin — in command of the entire Ukraine operation.

Oct. 10: Russia hits Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities in the most intense barrage of missile strikes since the earliest days of the war, in a campaign of attacks against the energy grid and other civilian infrastructure in a bid to crush Ukrainians’ will to fight.

NOVEMBERPolish Missile Scare 

Nov. 9, 2022: Russia orders its troops to leave the Ukrainian city of Kherson, the first major regional center seized in its invasion, in a highly symbolic setback for Putin.

Nov. 14: Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree before a meeting of Group of 20 nations to resume cooperation on climate change and food security while jointly chastising the Kremlin for loose talk of nuclear war. 

Nov. 15: Two people are killed by a missile that lands in Polish territory. The incident threatens to escalate the conflict between Russia and NATO countries, but leaders from the alliance and Poland defuse the situation by saying there was no indication it was an intentional attack.

Nov. 24: Massive Russian shelling of Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure by Russia leaves millions of people without power and heat.

DECEMBERZelenskiy in Washington

Dec. 16, 2022: EU member states reach a deal on a ninth package of sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, targeting Moscow’s access to drones, additional banks as well as officials responsible for allegedly abducting thousands of Ukrainian children. 

Dec. 19: European nations reach a deal to cap natural gas prices at €180.

Dec. 22: On a visit to Washington, Zelenskiy presses US Congress for tanks, planes, air-defnese capabilities and more money to help repel Russia’s invasion. The Biden administration announces $1.85 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine, including a Patriot missile battery.

JANUARYBattle Tanks for Ukraine

Jan. 2, 2023: A Ukrainian strike on a Russian military facility in the occupied eastern town of Makiyivka kills 89 troops being housed there, Russia’s Defense Ministry says, making it one of the deadliest losses acknowledged by Moscow.

Jan. 5: The US says it will provide Ukraine with scores of Bradley Fighting Vehicles while Germany is sending Marder vehicles. Germany also will provide Ukraine with an additional Patriot battery.

Read More: Ukraine’s Mud Is Freezing. Here’s What That Means for the War

Jan. 11: The Putin administration appoints Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s chief of the General Staff, as head of the nation’s combined forces.

Jan. 13: Russia claims its troops take Soledar, a salt-mining town that has limited strategic value but has been the site of weeks of fierce and deadly fighting, a rare triumph after months of setbacks.

Jan. 14: The UK announces it will send Challenger 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, becoming the first NATO member to agree to provide the alliance’s most modern armored weapons.

Jan. 15: A Russian missile strike on a nine-story apartment building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro kills at least 36 people and wounds 75, officials said.

Jan. 24: Zelenskiy dismisses at least 10 officials in a government shakeup following an outcry over perceived graft and excesses by civil servants amid the country’s efforts to fight off Russia’s invasion. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rules out supporting Sweden’s NATO bid after an activist burned Islam’s holy book in Stockholm at the weekend.

Jan. 25: The US announces it will  send Kyiv 31 of its M1 Abrams battle tanks, adding to a German commitment to supply some of its top-line Leopard 2 A6 tanks and infusing Ukraine with a major new capability as it looks to pry Russian forces from the east.

Jan. 27: The US designates Russia’s Wagner Group a transnational criminal organization.

FEBRUARYZelenskiy Appeals for Fighter Jets

Feb. 8, 2023: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announces the UK is considering sending Ukraine long-range missiles and fighter jets and will begin training Ukrainian pilots in the spring. He spoke as Zelenskiy made a surprise visit to London before meeting EU leaders in Brussels.

–With assistance from Karolina Sekula and Patricia Suzara.

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