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2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

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2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Part of the Russo-Ukrainian War
2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.svg
Military situation as of 24 May 2022
   Controlled by Ukraine
   Occupied by Russia

For a more detailed map, see the Russo-Ukrainian War detailed map
Date24 February 2022 (2022-02-24) – present
(3 months and 1 day)
Location
Status Ongoing (list of engagements · control of cities · timeline of events)
Belligerents
 Ukraine
Commanders and leaders
Strength
  •  Russia: ~175,000–190,000[12][13]
  • Donetsk PR: 20,000[14]
  • Luhansk PR: 14,000[14]
  •  Ukraine:
    • 196,600 (armed forces)
    • 102,000 (paramilitary)[15]
Strength estimates are as of the start of the invasion.
See also: Order of battle for the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Casualties and losses
Reports vary widely.
See Casualties and humanitarian impact for details.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, marking a steep escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which had begun in 2014. The invasion has caused Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II,[16][17] with more than 6.5 million Ukrainians fleeing the country[18] and a third of the population displaced.[19][20]

At the start of the war in 2014, Russia annexed the south Ukrainian region of Crimea, and Russian-backed separatists seized part of the south-eastern regions of Ukraine (the Donbas; in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts), sparking a regional war.[21][22] In 2021, Russia began a large military build-up along its border with Ukraine, amassing up to 190,000 troops and their equipment. In a televised address shortly before the invasion, Russian president Vladimir Putin espoused irredentist views,[23] challenged Ukraine's right to statehood,[24][25] and falsely[26] accused Ukraine of being governed by neo-Nazis who persecute the ethnic Russian minority.[27] Putin also alleged that eastward expansion by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) threatens Russia's national security, something NATO has disputed.[28] Russia demanded NATO stop expanding and permanently bar Ukraine from ever joining the alliance.[29] Multiple nations accused Russia of planning to attack or invade Ukraine, which Russian officials repeatedly denied as late as 23 February 2022.[33]

On 21 February 2022, Russia recognised the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, two self-proclaimed statelets in Donbas controlled by pro-Russian separatists.[34] The following day, the Federation Council of Russia authorised the use of military force abroad, and Russian troops overtly entered both territories.[35] The invasion began on the morning of 24 February,[36] when Putin announced a "special military operation" to "demilitarise and denazify" Ukraine.[37][38] Minutes later, missiles and airstrikes hit across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, shortly followed by a large ground invasion from multiple directions.[39][40] Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy enacted martial law and a general mobilisation of all male Ukrainian citizens between 18 and 60, who were banned from leaving the country.[41][42]

As the invasion began on 24 February 2022, the northern front launched from Belarus towards Kyiv, with a northeastern front attack on the city of Kharkiv; the southeastern front was conducted as two separate spearhead fronts, a southern front from Crimea and a separate probative southeastern front launched at the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.[43][44] On 8 April, the Russian ministry announced that all troops and divisions deployed in southeastern Ukraine would unite under General Aleksandr Dvornikov, who took charge of combined military operations, including the redeployed probative fronts originally assigned to the northern and north-eastern fronts, subsequently withdrawn and reassigned to the second phase on the southeastern front.[45] On 19 April, Russia launched a renewed attack across a 500 kilometres (300 mi) long front extending from Kharkiv to Donetsk and Luhansk, with simultaneous missile attacks again directed at Kyiv in the north and Lviv in western Ukraine.[46] By 13 May, Russian troops in Kharkiv were being retracted and redeployed to other fronts in Ukraine following the advances of Ukrainian troops into Kharkiv itself, while by 21 May, Mariupol fell to Russian troops in the southeastern front following a long siege of the Azovstal iron and steel works.[47][48]

The invasion was determined to be a violation of the laws of nations by the United Nations which further condemned "all violations of international humanitarian law" against the Geneva Conventions.[49][50] A United Nations General Assembly resolution demanded a full withdrawal of Russian forces, the International Court of Justice ordered Russia to suspend military operations and the Council of Europe expelled Russia. Many countries imposed new sanctions, which have affected the economies of Russia and the world,[51] and provided humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.[52] Protests occurred around the world; those in Russia were met with mass arrests and increased media censorship,[53][54] including banning the use of the words "war" and "invasion".[40] Numerous companies withdrew their products and services from Russia and Belarus, and Russian state-funded media were banned from broadcasting and removed from online platforms. The International Criminal Court opened an investigation into war crimes that occurred in Ukraine since the 2013–2014 Revolution of Dignity through to war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide in the 2022 invasion.[55]

Background

Post-Soviet context and Orange Revolution

Protestors in Independence Square in Kyiv during the Orange Revolution, November 2004

After the Soviet Union (USSR) dissolved in 1991, Ukraine and Russia maintained close ties. In 1994, Ukraine agreed to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon state, and dismantle the remaining nuclear weapons in Ukraine, left there by the USSR when it dissolved.[56] In return, Russia, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US) agreed to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine in the Budapest Memorandum.[57][58] In 1999, Russia signed the Charter for European Security, which "reaffirmed the inherent right of each and every participating State to be free to choose or change its security arrangements, including treaties of alliance".[59]

In the years after the Soviet Union's collapse, several former Eastern Bloc countries joined NATO, partly in response to regional security threats such as the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, the War in Abkhazia (1992–1993) and the First Chechen War (1994–1996). Russian leaders described this expansion as a violation of Western powers' assurances that NATO would not expand eastward, although any such alleged pledges, if real, were made informally, and their nature is disputed.[29][60][61] On 15 May 1992, six post-Soviet states belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States — Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—signed the Collective Security Treaty as a response to the conclusion of the Warsaw Pact and which Ukraine refused to join.[62]

In the controversial 2004 Ukrainian presidential election campaign, pro-European integration opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned by TCDD dioxin;[63][64] he later alleged Russian involvement.[65] Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared the president-elect, despite allegations of vote-rigging by election observers.[66][67] During a two-month period which became known as the Orange Revolution, large peaceful protests successfully challenged the outcome. After the Supreme Court of Ukraine annulled the initial result due to widespread electoral fraud, a second round re-run was held, bringing Yushchenko to power as president and leaving Yanukovych in opposition.[68][69]

According to analyst Anthony Cordesman, Russian military officers saw the Orange Revolution, and other pro-democracy colour revolutions within the post-Soviet states, as instigated by Western countries to undermine Russia's national security.[70][71] Russian president Vladimir Putin described the 2011–2013 Russian protests as an attempt to transfer the Orange Revolution to Russia.[72] Rallies in favour of Putin during this period were called "anti-Orange protests".[73]

At the 2008 Bucharest summit, Ukraine and Georgia sought to join NATO. The response of NATO members was divided; Western European countries opposed offering Membership Action Plans (MAP) lest this antagonise Russia, while US president George W. Bush pushed for their admission.[74] NATO ultimately refused to offer Ukraine and Georgia MAPs, but also issued a statement agreeing that "these countries will become members of NATO". Putin voiced strong opposition to Georgia and Ukraine's NATO membership bids.[75] On 7 February 2019, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, voted to amend the constitution to state that the country's long-term ambition was to join the European Union (EU) and NATO.[76] However, in the months prior to the 2022 invasion, the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO remained remote.[77]

Euromaidan, Revolution of Dignity, and Russian intervention

Euromaidan protests in Kyiv, December 2013

Yanukovych ran again for president in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election,[78] and won.[79] In November 2013, he announced he would not sign the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement, despite overwhelming support for the treaty in the Verkhovna Rada, choosing instead closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union.[80] Russia had pressured Ukraine to reject the agreement.[81] This triggered a wave of pro-EU protests known as Euromaidan, which widened in scope to oppose widespread government corruption, police brutality, and repressive anti-protest laws.[82]

In February 2014, clashes in Kyiv between protesters and Berkut special police resulted in the deaths of 100 protesters and 13 policemen; most of the victims were shot by police snipers.[83] On 21 February 2014, Yanukovych and parliamentary opposition leaders signed an agreement, calling for an interim government and early elections. Yanukovych fled Kyiv the next day, and later Ukraine;[84] parliament subsequently voted to remove him from office.[85][86][87] Leaders in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine declared continuing loyalty to Yanukovych,[88] leading to pro-Russian unrest.[89]

Ukraine, with the annexed Crimea at bottom and two self-proclaimed separatist republics in Donbas at right

The unrest was followed by Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the war in Donbas, which began in April 2014 with the formation of two Russia-backed separatist quasi-states: the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic.[90][91] Russian troops were involved in the conflict.[92][93][94] The Minsk agreements signed in September 2014 and February 2015 were a bid to stop the fighting, but ceasefires repeatedly failed.[95] A dispute emerged over the role of Russia: Normandy Format members France, Germany, and Ukraine saw Minsk as an agreement between Russia and Ukraine, whereas Russia insisted Ukraine should negotiate directly with the two separatist republics.[96][97] In 2021, Putin refused offers from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy for high-level talks, and the Russian government subsequently endorsed an article by former president Dmitry Medvedev arguing it was pointless to deal with Ukraine while it remained a "vassal" of the US.[98]

The annexation of Crimea led to a new wave of Russian nationalism, with much of the Russian neo-imperial movement aspiring to annex more Ukrainian land, including the unrecognised Novorossiya.[99] Analyst Vladimir Socor argued that Putin's 2014 speech after the annexation of Crimea was a de facto "manifesto of Greater-Russia Irredentism".[100] In July 2021, Putin published an essay titled "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians", reaffirming that Russians and Ukrainians were "one people".[101]

American historian Timothy D. Snyder described Putin's ideas as imperialism,[102] while British journalist Edward Lucas called it historical revisionism.[103] Other observers saw the Russian leadership as having a distorted view of modern Ukraine and its history.[104][105][106] Ukraine and other European countries neighbouring Russia accused Putin of irredentism, attempts to restore the Soviet Empire, and of pursuing aggressive militaristic policies.[107][108][109]

Prelude

Russian military buildups (March 2021 – February 2022)

US paratroopers of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment depart Italy's Aviano Air Base for Latvia, 23 February 2022. Thousands of US troops were deployed to Eastern Europe amid Russia's military build-up.[110]

In March and April 2021, Russia began a major military build-up near the Russo-Ukrainian border. It was followed by a second build-up in October 2021 to February 2022 in both Russia and Belarus.[111] During this period, members of the Russian government repeatedly denied having plans to invade or attack Ukraine;[31][112] including government spokesman Dmitry Peskov on 28 November 2021, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on 19 January 2022,[30] Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov on 20 February 2022,[31] and Russian ambassador to the Czech Republic Alexander Zmeevsky on 23 February 2022.[32][113]

Putin's chief national security adviser, Nikolai Patrushev,[114] believed that the West had been in an undeclared war with Russia for years,[115] and was a leading figure behind Russia's updated national security strategy, published in May 2021. It said that Russia may use "forceful methods" to "thwart or avert unfriendly actions that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation".[116][117]

In early December 2021, following Russian denials, the US released intelligence indicating Russian plans to invade, including satellite photographs of Russian troops and equipment near the Russo-Ukrainian border.[118] The intelligence also reported that the Russians had a list of key sites, and of individuals to be killed or neutralised in the invasion.[119] Intelligence reports released by the US continued to accurately predict invasion plans.[119]

Russian accusations and demands

On 10 January 2022, Ukrainian deputy prime minister Olha Stefanishyna and NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg spoke to media about the prospect of a Russian invasion.

In the months preceding the invasion, Russian officials accused Ukraine of inciting tensions, Russophobia, and repressing Russian speakers in Ukraine. They also made multiple security demands of Ukraine, NATO, and non-NATO allies in the EU. Commentators and Western officials described these as attempts to justify war.[120][121] "Russophobia is a first step towards genocide", Putin said on 9 December 2021.[122][123] Putin's claims about "de-Nazification" have been described as absurd,[124] and Russian claims of genocide were widely rejected as baseless.[125][126][127] Scholars of genocide and Nazism said that Putin was abusing the term, and his claims were "factually wrong".[26][128][129] Ukrainian president Zelenskyy declared that 16 February, a speculated date for the invasion, would be a "Day of Unity".[130][131]

Putin challenged the legitimacy of the Ukrainian state. In a 21 February speech,[132] he claimed that "Ukraine never had a tradition of genuine statehood",[133] incorrectly described the country as having been created by Soviet Russia,[24] and falsely accused Ukrainian society and government of being dominated by neo-Nazism.[27]

Ukraine, like pro-Russian separatists in Donbas,[134][135][136][137] has a far-right fringe, including the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and Right Sector,[141] but experts have described Putin's rhetoric as greatly exaggerating the influence of far-right groups within Ukraine; there is no widespread support for the ideology in the government, military, or electorate.[120][27][142] Ukrainian president Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, rebuked Putin's allegations, stating that his grandfather had served in the Soviet army fighting Nazis.[143] The US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem condemned this abuse of Holocaust history and the allusion to Nazi ideology in propaganda.[144][145]

Vladimir Putin (right) and his long-time confidant Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu[146]

During the second build-up, Russia demanded that the US and NATO enter into a legally binding arrangement preventing Ukraine from ever joining NATO, and the removal of multinational forces from NATO's Eastern European member states.[147] Russia threatened an unspecified military response if NATO followed an "aggressive line".[148] These demands were widely seen as non-viable; new NATO members in Central and Eastern Europe had joined the alliance because they preferred to move towards the safety and economic opportunities offered by NATO and the EU, and their governments sought protection from Russian irredentism.[149] A formal treaty to preventing Ukraine from joining NATO would contravene the treaty's "open door" policy, despite NATO's unenthusiastic response to Ukrainian requests to join.[150]

Alleged clashes (17–21 February 2022)

Fighting in Donbas escalated after 17 February 2022.[151] Ukraine and the Russian separatists each accused the other of firing across the line of conflict.[152][153] On 18 February, the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics ordered all civilians to leave their capitals,[154][155][156] although observers noted that full evacuations would take months.[157] Ukrainian media reported a sharp increase in artillery shelling by the Russian-led militants in Donbas as an attempt to provoke the Ukrainian army.[158][159] On 19 February both separatist republics declared full mobilisation.[160]

In the days leading up to the invasion, the Russian government intensified a disinformation campaign intended to mute public criticism. Russian state media promoted fabricated videos (many amateurish)[161][162] that purported to show Ukrainian forces attacking Russians in Donbas; evidence showed that the purported attacks, explosions, and evacuations were staged by Russia.[163] On 21 February, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said that Russian forces had killed five Ukrainian "saboteurs" that had crossed into Russian territory, captured one Ukrainian serviceman and destroyed two armoured vehicles. Ukraine denied this, and warned that Russia sought a pretext for an invasion. The Sunday Times described it as "the first move in Putin's war plan".[164][165]

Escalation (21–23 February 2022)

Putin's address to the nation on 21 February (English subtitles available)

On 21 February,[166] Putin announced that the Russian government would recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics.[167] The same evening, Putin ordered Russian troops deployed into Donbas, in what he called a "peacekeeping mission".[168][169] Several members of the UN Security Council condemned the 21 February intervention in Donbas; none voiced support.[170] On 22 February, video footage shot in the early morning showed Russian armed forces and tanks moving in the Donbas region.[171] The Federation Council unanimously authorised the use of military force outside Russia.[35]

Zelenskyy ordered the conscription of army reservists;[172] the following day, Ukraine's parliament proclaimed a 30-day national state of emergency.[173][174][175] Russia evacuated its embassy from Kyiv.[176] DDoS attacks hit the websites of the Ukrainian parliament and executive branch, along with many bank websites.[177] The attack was widely attributed to Russian-backed hackers.[178][179] Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) denied reports of Chinese military espionage on the eve of the invasion, including on nuclear infrastructure.[180][181]

On the night of 23 February,[182] Zelenskyy gave a speech in Russian that appealed to Russian citizens to prevent war.[183][184] He refuted Russia's claims about neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian government and said that he had no intention of attacking the Donbas.[185] Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on 23 February that separatist leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk had sent Putin a letter saying that Ukrainian shelling had caused civilian deaths and appealing for military support from Russia.[186]

Ukraine requested an urgent UN Security Council meeting.[187][188] Half an hour into the emergency meeting, Putin announced the start of military operations in Ukraine. Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian representative, called on the Russian representative, Vasily Nebenzya, to "do everything possible to stop the war" or relinquish his position as president of the UN Security Council; Nebenzya refused.[189][190]

Declaration of military operations

On 24 February, Putin announced a "special military operation" in eastern Ukraine and "effectively declared war on Ukraine."[191][192] In his speech, Putin said there were no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory and that he supported the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination.[193] He said the purpose of the "operation" was to "protect the people" in the predominantly Russian-speaking region of Donbas who, according to him, "for eight years now, [had] been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime".[194]

Putin said that Russia sought the "demilitarisation and denazification" of Ukraine.[195] Within minutes of Putin's announcement, explosions were reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, and the Donbas region.[196] An alleged leaked report from within the FSB claimed that the intelligence agency was not warned of Putin's plan to invade Ukraine.[197] Immediately following the attack, Zelenskyy declared martial law in Ukraine.[198] The same evening, he ordered a general mobilisation of all Ukrainian males between 18 and 60 years old[42] who were prohibited from leaving the country.[199] Russian troops entered Ukraine from the north in Belarus (towards Kyiv); from the northeast in Russia (towards Kharkiv); from the east in the DPR and the Luhansk People's Republic; and from the south in Crimea.[200] Russian equipment and vehicles were marked with a white Z military symbol (a non-Cyrillic letter), believed to be a measure to prevent friendly fire.[111]

Invasion and resistance

An animated map of the invasion from 24 February to 21 April

The invasion began on 24 February after Putin declared his intended military intervention.[191] The full military operation consisted of infantry divisions supported by armoured units and air support in Eastern Ukraine, along with dozens of missile attacks across both Eastern Ukraine and Western Ukraine.[201][202] Ostensibly, the main infantry and tank division attacks were launched at four spearhead incursions, creating a Northern front (launched towards Kyiv), a Southern front (originating in Crimea), a Southeastern front (launched at the cities of Luhansk and Donbas), and an Eastern front.[43][44] An extensive missile bombardment campaign was also conducted with dozens of missile strikes across Ukraine, reaching as far west as Lviv.[203][204]

On 25 March, the Russian Defence Ministry announced the "first stage" of what they referred as the "military operation in Ukraine" was generally complete, with Ukrainian military forces suffering serious losses, and the Russian military would now be concentrating on the "liberation of Donbas".[205][206] The "first stage" of the invasion was conducted on four fronts.[207][208]

By 7 April, Russian troops deployed to the Northern front conducted by the Russian Eastern Military District, comprising the 29th, 35th, and 36th Combined Arms Armies, were retracted from the Kyiv offensive for apparent resupply and subsequent redeployment to the Donbas region to reinforce the southern and the eastern fronts for a renewed invasion front of southeastern Ukraine. The Northeastern front including the Central Military District, comprising the 41st Combined Arms Army and 2nd Guards Combined Arms Army, was similarly withdrawn for resupply and redeployment in Southeastern Ukraine.[209][210] By 8 April, General Alexander Dvornikov was placed in charge of military operations during the invasion.[45] On 18 April, retired Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, reported in an interview on the PBS Newshour that Russia had repositioned its troops to initiate a new assault on Eastern Ukraine which would be limited to Russia's original deployment of 150,000 to 190,000 troops for the invasion, though the troops were being well supplied by adequate Russian weapons stockpiles stored within Russia. For Lute, this contrasted sharply with the vast size of the Ukrainian troops consisting of Zelenskyy's conscription of all male Ukrainian citizens between 16 and 60 years of age, however without adequate weapons available in Ukraine's highly limited stockpiles of weapons.[211]

On 26 April, delegates of the USA along with 40 allied nations met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss forming a sustained coalition to provide economic support along with military supplies and refitting to Ukraine for its battle and possible counter-offensive against Russia.[212] On 27 April, Putin announced in Russian's main legislative assembly that Russia would respond to any combative military provocation from outside of Ukraine with prompt peremptory action possible only with Russian's unique arsenal of nuclear weapons.[213][214] Following Putin's Victory Day speech in early May, Avril Haines of Biden's Cabinet stated the geopolitical expectation that no short term resolution to the Russian invasion of Ukraine should be expected and to prepare for a protracted conflict lasting beyond several more weeks in Ukraine.[215]

First phase: Invasion of Ukraine (24 February to 7 April)

At the start of the invasion on 24 February, the northern front was launched out of Belarus and targeted Kyiv with a northeastern front launched at the city of Kharkiv; the southeastern front was conducted as two separate spearhead fronts including a southern front (originating in Crimea) and a separate probative southeastern front (launched at the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk).[43][44]

First phase – Northern front

Military control around Kyiv on 2 April 2022

Russian efforts to capture Kyiv included a main probative spearhead front striking south from Belarus on 24 February along the west bank of the Dnipro River, with the apparent aim of encircling the city from the west; the probative spearhead front was fully retracted by 7 April for resupply and redeployment for the active southeastern fronts of the second phase of the Russian invasion.[210] The spearhead front initiated on 24 February for Kyiv was supported by two separate axes of attack from Russia along the east bank of the Dnipro: the western at Chernihiv, and the eastern at Sumy. The eastern axes of attack likely intended to encircle Kyiv from the northeast and east.[202][201]

On the first day of the invasion, Russian forces advancing towards Kyiv from Belarus gained control of the ghost towns of Chernobyl and Pripyat.[216][217] Following their breakthrough at Chernobyl, Russian forces were held at Ivankiv, a northern suburb of Kyiv. Russian Airborne Forces attempted to seize two key airfields around Kyiv, launching an airborne assault on Antonov Airport,[218][219] followed by a similar landing at Vasylkiv, near Vasylkiv Air Base to the south of Kyiv, on 26 February.[220][221]

These attacks appeared to have been an attempt by Russia to seize Kyiv rapidly, with Spetsnaz infiltrating into the city supported by airborne operations and a rapid mechanised advance from the north. The attacks were unsuccessful.[222] During its initial assaults on Kyiv, Russia reportedly made several attempts to assassinate Volodymyr Zelenskyy using Wagner Group mercenaries and Chechen forces. The Ukrainian government said these efforts had been partially thwarted by anti-war officials within Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), who shared intelligence of the plans.[223]

By early March, further Russian advances along the west side of the Dnipro were limited, after suffering setbacks from Ukrainian defence.[202][201] As of 5 March, a large Russian convoy, reportedly 64 kilometres (40 mi) in length, had made little progress toward Kyiv.[224] The London-based think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) assessed the Russian performance from the north and east as "stalled".[225] Advances along the Chernihiv axis had largely halted as a siege of the city began. Russian forces also continued advancing from the northwest of Kyiv, capturing Bucha, Hostomel, and Vorzel by 5 March,[226][227] though Irpin remained contested as of 9 March.[228] By 11 March, it was reported that the lengthy convoy had largely dispersed, taking up positions that offered tree cover. Rocket launchers were also identified.[229] On 16 March, Ukrainian forces began a counter-offensive to repel Russian forces approaching Kyiv from several surrounding cities.[230]

By 20 March, the Russian military appeared to be attempting a rapid invasion to achieve its apparent primary goal of the seizure of Kyiv, along with the occupation of Eastern Ukraine and the displacement of the Ukrainian government. Russian forces quickly became stalled while approaching Kyiv due to several factors, including the disparity in morale and performance between Ukrainian and Russian forces, the Ukrainian use of sophisticated man-portable weapons provided by Western allies, poor Russian logistics and equipment performance, the failure of the Russian Air Force to achieve air superiority, and Russian military attrition during their siege of major cities.[231][232][233] Unable to achieve a quick victory in Kyiv, Russian forces switched strategies and began using standoff weapons, indiscriminate bombing, and siege warfare.[231][234][235]

On 25 March, the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kyiv retook several towns to the east and west of Kyiv, including Makariv.[236][237] As part of a general retreat of Russian forces north of Kyiv, under attack by the Ukrainian military, Russian troops in the Bucha area began to retreat north at the end of March. Ukrainian forces entered the city on 1 April.[238] Ukraine said it had recaptured the entire region around Kyiv, including Irpin, Bucha, and Hostomel, by 2 April, and uncovered evidence of war crimes in Bucha.[239] On 6 April, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that the Russian "retraction, resupply, and redeployment" of their troops from the Kyiv area should be interpreted as an expansion of Putin's plans for his military actions against Ukraine, by redeploying and concentrating his forces on Eastern Ukraine and Mariupol within the next two weeks, as a precursor to the further expansion of Putin's actions against the rest of Ukraine.[210]

As the second phase of the invasion began, Kyiv was left generally free from attack apart from isolated missile strikes, one of which occurred during the visit on 28 April of UN chief Guterres to Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy to discuss the fate of survivors at the siege of Mariupol.[240]

First phase – Northeastern front

Russian forces advanced into Chernihiv Oblast on 24 February and besieged its administrative capital. The following day, the oblast's second largest city, Konotop, 90 kilometres (56 mi) from the Russian border, was attacked and captured by Russian forces.[241][242] A separate advance was made into Sumy Oblast on the same day, where the city of Sumy, just 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the Russo-Ukrainian border, was attacked by Russian units. The Russian advance was bogged down in urban fighting, and Ukrainian forces were successful in holding the city. According to Ukrainian sources, more than 100 Russian armoured vehicles were destroyed and dozens of soldiers were captured.[243] Okhtyrka also came under attack, where Russian forces were spotted deploying thermobaric weapons.[244]

In an assessment of the campaign on 4 March, Frederick Kagan wrote that the Sumy axis was currently "the most successful and dangerous Russian avenue of advance on Kyiv", and commented that the geography favoured mechanised advances as the terrain "is flat and sparsely populated, offering few good defensive positions".[201] Russian forces made several deep advances along axes from the Sumy area, winning several battles in the process. Travelling along highways, Russian forces reached Brovary, an eastern suburb of Kyiv, on 4 March.[202][201] The Pentagon confirmed on 6 April that the Russian army had left Chernihiv Oblast, while Sumy Oblast remained contested.[245] On 7 April, Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, governor of Sumy Oblast, stated that all Russian troops had left the region, adding that the territory of the region was still unsafe due to rigged explosives and other ammunition left behind by Russian troops.[246]

First phase – Southern front

A destroyed Russian BMP-3 near Mariupol, 7 March

On 24 February, Russian forces took control of the North Crimean Canal, allowing Crimea to obtain water from the Dnieper, previously cut off since 2014.[247] On 26 February, a siege of Mariupol began as the attack moved east towards the city, while simultaneously linking the front with separatist-held regions in Donbas.[244][248] En route to Mariupol, Russian forces entered Berdiansk before capturing it the following day.[249] On 1 March, Russian forces resumed their attack on Melitopol and other nearby cities, initiating a battle.[250] Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, later announced that Russian forces had occupied the city.[251] On the morning of 25 February, Russian units from the DPR advanced towards Mariupol were defeated by Ukrainian forces near the village of Pavlopil.[252][253][254] By the evening, the Russian Navy reportedly began an amphibious assault on the coastline of the Sea of Azov 70 kilometres (43 mi) west of Mariupol. A US defence official said that Russian forces might be deploying thousands of marines from this beachhead.[255][256][257]

Another group of Russian forces advanced north from Crimea, with the Russian 22nd Army Corps approaching the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on 26 February.[258][259] On 28 February, they began a siege at Enerhodar in an attempt to take control of the nuclear power plant.[260] A fire began at the plant during the battle.[261] The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) subsequently said that essential equipment was undamaged.[262] By 4 March, the nuclear power plant fell under Russian control. Despite reports of fires, the power plant recorded no radiation leaks.[263] A third Russian attack group from Crimea moved northwest, where they captured bridges over the Dnieper.[264] On 2 March, Russian troops won a battle at Kherson and captured the city, the first major Ukrainian city to be captured by Russian forces in the invasion.[265] Russian troops then advanced to Mykolaiv and attacked the city two days later, but were later repelled by Ukrainian forces.[266] Also on 2 March, Ukrainian forces initiated a counteroffensive on Horlivka,[267] which had been mainly controlled by the DPR since 2014.[268] Following a renewed missile attack on 14 March in Mariupol, the Ukrainian government claimed more than 2,500 deaths in the city.[269]

By 18 March, Mariupol was completely encircled and fighting reached the city centre, hampering civilian evacuation efforts.[270] On 20 March, an art school in the city, sheltering around 400 people, was destroyed in Russian bombing.[271] The same day, as Russian forces continued their siege of the city, the Russian government demanded a full surrender, which several Ukrainian government officials refused.[43][44] On 24 March, Russian forces entered central Mariupol.[272] The city administration alleged the Russians were trying to demoralise residents by publicly shouting claims of Russian victories, including statements that Odessa had been captured.[273] On 27 March, Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Olha Stefanishyna, stated that "[Mariupol's inhabitants] don't have access to water, to any food supplies, to anything. More than 85 percent of the whole town is destroyed", and that Russia's objectives have "nothing to do with humanity".[274] In a telephone conversation with Emmanuel Macron on 29 March, Putin stated that the bombardment of Mariupol would only end when Ukrainian troops fully surrendered Mariupol, given the advanced state of devastation in the nearly overtaken city.[275]

On 1 April, a rescue effort by the United Nations (UN) to transport hundreds of civilian survivors out of Mariupol with 50 allocated buses was impeded by Russian troops, who refused the buses safe passage into the city while peace talks continued in Istanbul.[276] On 3 April, following the retraction of Russian forces from Kyiv at the end of phase one of the military invasion, Russia expanded its attack on Southern Ukraine further west with increased bombardment and strikes against Odessa, Mykolaiv, and the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.[277][278]

First phase – Eastern front

Russian bombardment on the outskirts of Kharkiv, 1 March

In the east, Russian troops attempted to capture Kharkiv, less than 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the Russian border,[279][280] and met strong Ukrainian resistance. On 25 February, the Millerovo air base was attacked by Ukrainian military forces with OTR-21 Tochka missiles. According to Ukrainian officials, these destroyed several Russian Air Force planes and set the airbase on fire.[203][204] On 28 February, Kharkiv was targeted by missile attacks which killed several people.[281] On 1 March, Denis Pushilin, head of the DPR, announced that DPR forces had almost completely surrounded the city of Volnovakha.[282] On 2 March, Russian forces were repelled from Sievierodonetsk during an attack against the city.[283] Izium was reportedly captured by Russian forces on 17 March,[284] although fighting continued.[285]

On 25 March, the Russian defence ministry stated that Russia was preparing to enter the second phase of military operations and seek to occupy major Ukrainian cities in Eastern Ukraine.[286] On 31 March, the Ukrainian military confirmed Izium was under Russian control.[287][288] On 31 March, PBS News reported that Kharkiv had renewed shelling and missile attacks, equal or worse than before, on the day when peace talks were to resume with Russia in Istanbul.[289]

Amid the heightened Russian shelling of Kharkiv on 31 March, Russia reported a helicopter strike against an oil supply depot approximately 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of the border in Belgorod, and accused Ukraine of the attack.[290] Ukraine denied responsibility for the attack.[291] By 7 April, the renewed massing of Russian invasion troops and tank divisions around the towns of Izium, Sloviansk, and Kramatorsk prompted Ukrainian government officials to advise the remaining residents near the eastern border of Ukraine to evacuate to western Ukraine within 2–3 days in the absence of arms and munitions previously promised to Ukraine by then.[292]

Second phase: Southeastern offensive (8 April to present)

On 8 April, the Russian ministry announced that all its troops and divisions deployed in southeastern Ukraine would unite under the command and control of General Aleksandr Dvornikov, who was placed in charge of combined military operations, including the redeployed probative fronts originally assigned to the northern front and the north-eastern front which were subsequently withdrawn and reassigned to the southeastern front.[45] By 17 April, progress on the southeastern front appeared to be impeded by troops continuing to hold out in abandoned factories in Mariupol and refusing surrender to ultimatums from surrounding Russian troops.[293] On 19 April, The New York Times confirmed that Russia had launched a renewed invasion front referred to as an "eastern assault" across a 300-mile front extending from Kharkiv to Donetsk and Luhansk, with simultaneous missile attacks again directed at Kyiv in the north and Lviv in Western Ukraine.[46] As of 30 April, a NATO official described Russian advances as "uneven" and "minor".[294] An anonymous US Defense Official called the Russian offensive: "very tepid", "minimal at best" and "anaemic".[295]

Military control around Donbas as of 18 April 2022

Second phase – Donbas front

A Russian missile attack on Kramatorsk railway station in the city of Kramatorsk took place on 8 April, reportedly killing at least 52.[296] and injuring 87 to 300.[297] On 11 April, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine expected a major new Russian offensive in the east.[298] American officials said that Russia had withdrawn or been repulsed elsewhere in Ukraine, and therefore was preparing a retraction, resupply, and redeployment of infantry and tank divisions to the Southeastern Ukraine front.[299][300] Military satellites photographed extensive Russian convoys of infantry and mechanised units deploying south from Kharkiv to Izium on 11 April, apparently part of the planned Russian redeployment of its Northeastern troops to the Southeastern front of the invasion.[301]

On 14 April, Ukrainian troops reportedly blew up a bridge between Kharkiv and Izium used by Russian forces to redeploy troops to Izium, impeding the progress of the Russian convoy.[302] On 18 April, with Mariupol almost entirely overtaken by Russian forces, the Ukrainian government announced that the second phase of the reinforced invasion of the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions had intensified with expanded invasion forces by the Russians to continue further occupation of the Donbas and other major cities.[303] On 5 May, David Axe writing for Forbes stated that the Ukrainian army had concentrated its 4th and 17th Tank Brigades and the 95th Air Assault Brigade around Izium for possible rearguard action against the deployed Russian troops in the area; Axe added that the other major concentration of Ukraine's forces around Kharkiv included the 92nd and 93rd Mechanized Brigades which could similarly be deployed for rearguard action against Russian troops around Kharkiv or link up with Ukrainian troops contemporaneously being deployed around Izium.[304]

On 13 May, BBC reported that Russian troops in Kharkiv were being retracted and redeployed to other fronts in Ukraine following the advances of Ukrainian troops into surrounding cities and Kharkiv itself, which included the destruction of strategic pontoon bridges built by Russian troops to cross over the Seversky Donets river and previously used for rapid tank deployment in the region.[305] On 22 May, the BBC reported that after the Fall of Mariupol, that Russia had intensified attacks of Luhansk and Donetsk while concentrating missile attacks and intense artillery fire on Severodonetsk, the largest city under Ukrainian control in Luhansk province.[306]

Second phase – Mykolaiv–Odessa front

Missile attacks and bombardment of the key cities of Mykolaiv and Odessa continued as the second phase of the invasion began.[46] On 22 April, Russia's Brigadier General Rustam Minnekayev, speaking during a defence ministry meeting, indicated that Russia would plan to extend its Mykolayiv–Odessa front after the siege of Mariupol further west into Ukraine in order to include the breakaway region of Transnistria on the border of Ukraine with Moldova.[307][308] The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine replied to this announcement by describing Russia's intentions as imperialism, saying that it contradicted previous Russian claims that Russia did not have territorial ambitions over Ukraine and that Russia had admitted that "the goal of the 'second phase' of the war is not victory over the mythical Nazis, but simply the occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine".[307] Georgi Gotev, writing for Reuters on 22 April, noted that the extension of Russia's battlefront and occupation of Ukraine from Odessa to Transnistria would transform Ukraine into a landlocked nation without any practical access to the Black Sea.[309] On 24 April, Russia resumed its missile strikes on Odessa destroying military facilities and causing two dozen civilian casualties.[310]

On 27 April, Ukrainian sources indicated that explosions had destroyed two Russian broadcast towers in Transnistria, which were used primarily to rebroadcast Russian television programming.[311] At the end of April, Russia renewed missile attacks on runways in Odessa, destroying some of them, in a further attempt to weaken Ukraine's transportation infrastructure.[312] During the week of 10 May, Ukrainian troops began to take military action to dislodge Russian forces installing themselves on Snake Island in the Black Sea approximately 200 km from Odessa.[313]

Second phase – Dnipro–Zaporizhzhia front

Russian forces continued to fire missiles and drop bombs on the key cities of Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia at the start of the second phase of the invasion.[46] On 10 April, Russian missiles destroyed the Dnipro International Airport.[314][315] On 2 May about 100 survivors were reportedly evacuated from the siege at Mariupol by the UN, with the cooperation of Russian troops, to the village of Bezimenne near Donetsk, from where they were to be moved to Zaporizhzhia.[316]

Second phase – Fall of Mariupol: 8 April to 18 May

On 13 April, Russian forces intensified their attack on the abandoned steel factory at the Azovstal iron and steel works in Mariupol, and the Ukrainian defence forces that remained there.[317] By 17 April, Russian forces had surrounded the factory. Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal said that the Ukrainian soldiers had vowed to ignore the renewed ultimatum to surrender and to fight to the last soul.[318] On 20 April, Putin said that the Siege of Mariupol could be considered tactically complete, with about 500 Ukrainian troops entrenched in bunkers within the Azovstal iron works with an estimated 1,000 Ukrainian citizens completely sealed off from any type of relief in their siege.[319]

After meeting with Putin and Zelenskyy on consecutive days, on 28 April UN secretary Guterres said he would attempt to organise an emergency evacuation of survivors entrenched in Azovstal in accordance with assurances he had received from Putin on his visit to the Kremlin.[320] On 30 April, Russian troops allowed civilians to leave under UN protection.[321] By 3 May, after allowing approximately 100 Ukrainian civilians to depart from the Azovstal steel factory, Russian troops renewed a non-stop bombardment of the steel factory, with an estimated several hundred civilians still occupying its five bunkers built to withstand a nuclear attack.[322] On 6 May, The Telegraph reported that Russia had used thermobaric bombs against the remaining Ukrainian soldiers, who had lost contact with the Kyiv government; in his last communications, Zelenskyy had authorised the commander of the besieged steel factory to surrender as necessary under the pressure of increased Russian attacks.[323] On 7 May, Associated Press reported that all civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal iron works at the end of the three day ceasefire.[324]

After the last civilians evacuated from the Azovstal bunkers, nearly two thousand Ukrainian soldiers remained barricaded there, with 700 injured; they were able to communicate a plea for a military corridor to evacuate troops, as they expected summary execution by Russian troops if they surrendered.[325] Reports of dissent within the Ukrainian troops at Azovstal were reported by Ukrainskaya Pravda on 8 May indicating that the commander of the Ukrainian Marines assigned to defend the Azovstal bunkers made an unauthorised acquisition of tanks, munitions and personnel to make a breakout from the entrenched position there and flee from the city; the remaining soldiers spoke of a weakening of their defensive position in Azovstal as a result, allowing progress to advancing Russian lines of attack.[326] Bloomberg News reported on 8 May the dire situation of surviving Ukrainian troops at Azovstal as being a watch of "dead men" with Ilia Somolienko, deputy commander of the remaining Ukrainian troops barricaded at Azovstal, communicating: "We are basically here dead men. Most of us know this and it's why we fight so fearlessly."[327]

On 16 May, the Ukrainian General staff announced that the Mariupol garrison had “fulfilled its combat mission” and that final evacuations from the Azovstal steel factory had begun. The military said that 264 service members were evacuated to Olenivka under Russian control, while 53 of them who were "seriously injured" had been taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk also controlled by Russian forces.[328][329] Following the evacuation of Ukrainian personnel from Azovstal, Russian and DPR forces fully controlled all areas of Mariupol. The end of the battle also brought an end to the Siege of Mariupol. Russia press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed that the fighters who surrendered would be treated "in accordance with international standards" while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an address that "the work of bringing the boys home continues, and this work needs delicacy - and time". Some prominent Russian lawmakers called on the government to deny prisoner exchanges for members of the Azov Regiment.[330]

Western Ukraine

On 14 March, Russian forces conducted multiple cruise missile attacks on a military training facility in Yavoriv, Lviv Oblast, close to the Polish border. Local governor Maksym Kozytskyy reported that at least 35 people had been killed in the attacks.[331][332] On 18 March, Russia expanded the attack to Lviv, with Ukrainian military officials saying initial information suggested that the missiles which hit Lviv were likely air-launched cruise missiles originating from warplanes flying over the Black Sea.[333] On 16 May, US defense officials say that in the past 24 hours Russians fired long range missiles targeting military training facility near Lviv.[334]

Air warfare

On 24 February, Russian forces attacked the Chuhuiv air base,[335] which housed Bayraktar TB2 drones. The attack caused damage to fuel storage areas and infrastructure.[336] The next day, Ukrainian forces attacked the Millerovo air base.[203][204] On 27 February, Russia reportedly fired 9K720 Iskander missiles from Belarus at the civilian Zhytomyr Airport.[337][338] Many Ukrainian air defence facilities were destroyed or damaged in the first days of the invasion by Russian air strikes.[339]

On 1 March, Russia and the U.S. established a deconfliction line to avoid any misunderstanding that could cause an unintentional escalation.[340]

Russia lost at least ten aircraft on 5 March.[341] On 6 March, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that 88 Russian aircraft had been destroyed since the war began.[342] However, an anonymous senior US defence official told Reuters on 7 March that Russia still had the "vast majority" of its fighter jets and helicopters that had been amassed near Ukraine available to fly.[343] After the first month of the invasion, Justin Bronk, a British military observer, counted the Russian aircraft losses at 15 fixed-wing aircraft and 35 helicopters, but noted that the true total was certainly higher.[344] In contrast, according to the United States, 49 Ukrainian fighter aircraft were lost by 18 March.[345]

On 13 March, Russian forces conducted multiple cruise missile attacks on a military training facility in Yavoriv, Lviv Oblast, close to the Polish border. Local governor Maksym Kozytskyy reported that at least 35 people had been killed in the attacks.[346][347] The poor performance of the Russian Air Force has been attributed by The Economist to Russia's inability to suppress Ukraine's medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries and Russia's lack of precision-guided bombs. Ukrainian mid-range SAM sites force planes to fly low, making them vulnerable to Stinger and other shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, and lack of training and flight hours for Russian pilots renders them inexperienced for the type of close ground support missions typical of modern air forces.[348] On 5 May, Forbes magazine reported that Russians had continued air attacks and "continue to send Su-24 and Su-25 attack planes on treetop-level bombing runs targeting Ukrainian positions."[349]

Naval warfare

Russian Black Sea flagship Moskva sunk on 14 April 2022, reportedly after being hit by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles

Ukraine lies on the Black Sea, which only has access through the Turkish-held Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. On 28 February, Turkey invoked the 1936 Montreux Convention and sealed off the straits to Russian warships not registered to Black Sea home bases and not returning to their ports of origin. This prevented the passage of four Russian naval vessels through the Turkish Straits.[350][351][352] On 24 February, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine announced that an attack on Snake Island by Russian Navy ships had begun.[353] The guided missile cruiser Moskva and patrol boat Vasily Bykov bombarded the island with their deck guns.[354] When the Russian warship identified itself and instructed the Ukrainian soldiers stationed on the island to surrender, their response was "Russian warship, go fuck yourself!"[355][356] After the bombardment, a detachment of Russian soldiers landed and took control of Snake Island.[357]

Russia stated on 26 February that US drones supplied intelligence to the Ukrainian navy to help target Russian warships in the Black Sea, which the US denied.[358] By 3 March, the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny, the flagship of the Ukrainian navy, was scuttled in Mykolaiv to prevent its capture by Russian forces.[359][360][361][362] On 14 March, the Russian source RT reported that the Russian Armed Forces had captured about a dozen Ukrainian ships in Berdiansk, including the Polnocny-class landing ship Yuri Olefirenko.[363] On 24 March, Ukrainian officials said that a Russian landing ship docked in Berdiansk – initially reported to be the Orsk and then its sister ship, the Saratov – was destroyed by a Ukrainian rocket attack.[364][237][249]

In March 2022, the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) sought to create a safe sea corridor for commercial vessels to leave Ukrainian ports.[365] On 27 March, Russia established a sea corridor 80 miles long and 3 miles wide through its Maritime Exclusion Zone, for the transit of merchant vessels from the edge of Ukrainian territorial waters southeast of Odesa.[366] Ukraine closed its ports at MARSEC level 3, with sea mines laid in port approaches, until the end to hostilities.[367]

The Russian cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, was, according to Ukrainian sources and a US senior official,[368] hit on 13 April by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles, setting the ship on fire. The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed the warship had suffered serious damage due to a munition explosion caused by a fire, and said that its entire crew had been evacuated.[369] The Pentagon spokesman John Kirby reported on 14 April that satellite images showed that the Russian warship had suffered a sizeable explosion onboard but was heading to the east for expected repairs and refitting in Sevastopol.[370] Later on the same day, the Russian Ministry of Defence stated that Moskva had sunk while under tow in rough weather.[371] On 15 April, Reuters reported that Russia launched an apparent retaliatory missile strike against the missile factory Luch Design Bureau in Kyiv where the Neptune missiles used in the Moskva attack were manufactured and designed.[372]

In early May, Ukrainian forces launched counterattacks on Snake Island. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed to have repelled these counterattacks. Ukraine released footage of a Russian Serna-class landing craft located in the Black Sea being destroyed near Snake Island by a Ukrainian drone.[373][374] The same day, a pair of Ukrainian Su-27s conducted a high-speed, low level bombing run on Russian-occupied Snake Island; the attack was captured on film by a Baykar Bayraktar TB2 drone.[375]

Potential Russian use of tactical nuclear weapons

On 14 April, The New York Times reported that William Burns of the CIA had announced that the threat of using tactical nuclear weapons was within the weapons capacity of Russia, stating: "The director of the C.I.A. said on Thursday that 'potential desperation' to extract the semblance of a victory in Ukraine could tempt President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to order the use of a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon."[376] On 22 April, it was reported that Russia was continuing to test its Satan 2 long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to upgrade its nuclear arsenal in Autumn of 2022 with Putin stating that other nations should be more wary of Russia's nuclear arsenal.[377] On 24 April, in apparent response to Biden sending Antony Blinken to Kyiv for military support meetings with Zelenskyy on 23 April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that further support of Ukraine could cause tensions which could potentially lead to a World War III scenario involving Russia's full arsenal of weapons.[378] The next day after Lavrov's comments, CNBC reported that Secretary Lloyd Austin referred to Russia's nuclear war rhetoric as being "dangerous and unhelpful".[379]

In response to Russia's apparent disregard of safety precautions during the invasion of Ukraine's nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia and its disabled former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, on 26 April Zelenskyy voiced concern that Russian irresponsibility in firing their missiles in the vicinity of Ukraine's active nuclear power plant should lead to international discussion directed toward limiting and controlling Russia as a nation no longer being qualified for the responsible management of its nuclear resources and nuclear weapons stating: "I believe that after all that the Russian military has done in the Chernobyl zone and at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, no one in the world can feel safe knowing how many nuclear facilities, nuclear weapons and related technologies the Russian state has... If Russia has forgotten what Chernobyl is, it means that global control over Russia's nuclear facilities, and nuclear technology is needed."[380] In apparent response to Germany deploying armed tanks to Ukraine, Putin announced in Russia's main legislative assembly that Russia would respond to any combative military provocation from outside of Ukraine with prompt peremptory action possible only with Russia's unique arsenal of nuclear weapons.[381][214] Press secretary John Kirby speaking for the Pentagon, after announcing the successful delivery of a large deployment of M777 howitzer cannons as now being on Ukrainian soil, responded to Putin's assertion of nuclear potency as being against the process of the peaceful resolution of the current conflict in Ukraine.[382] On 4 May, the US Senate held the "Hearing on Nuclear Readiness Amid Russia-Ukraine War" where Admiral Charles A. Richard stated that current nuclear triad defense capabilities in the US were operating at a minimal acceptable level of operational capacity, with Russian stockpiles and Chinese stockpiles currently larger than those of the US.[383] On 6 May 2022, Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev stated that Russia would not use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, describing their use as "not applicable to the Russian 'special military operation'".[384]

Popular resistance

Civilians in Kyiv preparing Molotov cocktails, 26 February 2022

Ukrainian civilians resisted the Russian invasion, volunteering for territorial defence units, making Molotov cocktails, donating food, constructing barriers such as Czech hedgehogs,[385] and helping to transport refugees.[386] Responding to a call from Ukraine's transportation agency, Ukravtodor, civilians dismantled or altered road signs, constructed makeshift barriers, and blocked roadways. Social media reports showed spontaneous street protests against Russian forces in occupied settlements, often evolving into verbal altercations and physical standoffs with Russian troops.[387] By the beginning of April, Ukrainian civilians also began organising as guerrillas, mostly in the wooded north and east of the country. The Ukrainian military announced plans to launch a large-scale guerrilla campaign to complement its conventional defence against the Russian invasion.[388]

In some instances, people physically blocked Russian military vehicles, sometimes forcing them to retreat.[387][389][390] The Russian soldiers' response to unarmed civilian resistance varied from reluctance to engage the protesters[387] to firing into the air or directly into crowds.[391] There have been mass detentions of Ukrainian protesters, and Ukrainian media reported forced disappearances, mock executions, hostage-taking, extrajudicial killing, and sexual violence perpetrated by the Russian military.[392] To facilitate Ukrainian attacks, civilians reported Russian military positions via a Telegram chatbot and Diia, a Ukrainian government app previously used by citizens to upload official identity and medical documents. In response, Russian forces began destroying mobile phone network equipment, searching door-to-door for smartphones and computers, and in at least one case killing a civilian found with pictures of Russian tanks.[393]

As of 21 May, Ukraine had 700,000 servicemembers on active duty combatting the Russian invasion.[394]

Foreign military support

Foreign military sales and aid

  Russia
  Ukraine
  Countries that have supplied Ukraine with military equipment during the 2022 invasion
  Russia
  Ukraine
  Countries sending any aid, including humanitarian aid, to Ukraine

Since 2014, the UK, US, EU, and NATO have provided mostly non-lethal military aid to Ukraine.[395] Lethal military support was initially limited, with the US beginning to sell weapons including Javelin anti-tank missiles starting in 2018,[395] and Ukraine agreeing to purchase TB2 combat drones from Turkey in 2019.[396] As Russia built up equipment and troops on Ukraine's borders in January 2022, the US worked with other NATO member states to transfer their US-produced weapons to Ukraine.[397] The UK also began supplying Ukraine with NLAW and Javelin anti-tank weapons.[398] Following the invasion, NATO member states, including Germany, agreed to supply weapons, but NATO as an organisation did not.[52][399][400] NATO and its member states also refused to send troops into Ukraine, or to establish a no fly-zone, fearing this would risk a larger-scale war,[401][402] a decision some experts have labelled as appeasement.[403][404]

On 26 February, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that he had authorised $350 million in lethal military assistance, including anti-armor and anti-aircraft systems.[405][406] The next day the EU stated that it would purchase €450 million (US$502 million) in lethal assistance and an additional €50 million ($56 million) in non-lethal supplies to be supplied to Ukraine, with Poland acting as a distribution hub.[407][408][409] During the first week of the invasion, NATO member states supplied more than 17,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine;[410] by mid-March, the number was estimated to be more than 20,000.[411] In three tranches agreed in February, March and April 2022, the European Union committed to €1.5 billion to support the capabilities and resilience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the protection of the Ukrainian civilian population, under the purview of the European Peace Facility line.[412]

As of 11 April, Ukraine had been provided with approximately 25,000 anti-air and 60,000 anti-tank weapon systems by the US and its allies.[413] The following day, Russia reportedly received anti-tank missiles and RPGs from Iran, supplied through undercover networks via Iraq.[414]

On 26 April, the US convened a conference where representatives of more than 40 countries met at the Ramstein Air Base to discuss the military support for Ukraine.[415] On 28 April 2022 US materiel (M777 155 mm howitzers, TPQ-36 Firefinder counterfire radars (Ukraine having previously received TPQ-36s), AN/MPQ-64 (Sentinel radars), and AN/TPQ-53 radars) is in the pipeline of ongoing logistical support for Ukraine's anti-artillery capability in the Battle of the Donbas.[416][417]

On 28 April, US President Biden asked Congress for an additional $33 billion to assist Ukraine, including $20 billion to provide weapons to Ukraine.[418] On 5 May, Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced that Ukraine had received more than $12 billion worth of weapons and financial aid from Western countries since the start of Russia's invasion on 24 February.[419] On 10 May, the House passed legislation that would provide $40 billion in new aid to Ukraine.[420]

Foreign military involvement

Anatoly Bibilov, president of Georgia's breakaway state South Ossetia, announced on 26 March that troops from South Ossetia had been sent to Ukraine in support of Russia.[421][422] Later, it was clarified that Bibilov was referring to Ossetians with Russian citizenship or who serve in the Russian military at the fourth military base of the 58th Russian Army, deployed in South Ossetia.[423][424] Redeployment of troops from the base started on 16 March.[425][426]

Although NATO and the EU have taken a strict policy of 'no boots on the ground' in support against the Russian invasion of Ukraine,[427] Ukraine has actively sought volunteers from other countries. On 1 March, Ukraine temporarily lifted visa requirements for foreign volunteers who wished to join the fight against Russian forces. The move came after Zelenskyy created the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine and called on volunteers to "join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world".[428] Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that as of 6 March, approximately 20,000 foreign nationals from 52 countries have volunteered to fight.[429] Most of these volunteers joined the newly created International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine.[429] The New York Times reported that the United States provided real-time battlefield targeting intelligence to Ukraine that helped Ukrainian forces kill Russian generals and sink the Russian warship Moskva.[430][431]

On 3 March, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov warned that mercenaries are not entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions, and captured foreign fighters would not be considered prisoners of war, but prosecuted as criminals.[432] On 11 March, Moscow announced that 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East were ready to join other pro-Russian foreign fighters alongside the Donbas separatists.[433] A video uploaded online showed armed Central African paramilitaries calling to arms to fight in Ukraine with Russian troops.[434]

Over 66,200 Ukrainian men have returned to Ukraine from abroad to fight.[435]

Casualties and humanitarian impact

Casualties

Breakdown Casualties Time period Source
Civilians 10,067–25,067+ killed 24 February – 18 May 2022 Ukrainian government[d]
572 killed, 1,717 wounded 25 February – 20 May 2022 Donetsk PR[e]
24 killed, 47 wounded 17 February – 5 May 2022 Luhansk PR[438]
3,930+ killed, 4,532+ wounded 24 February – 22 May 2022 United Nations[439]
Ukrainian forces
(ZSU, NGU)
2,500–3,000 killed, 10,000 wounded 24 February – 15 April 2022 Ukrainian government[440]
5,500–11,000 killed, 18,000+ wounded 24 February – 19 April 2022 US estimate[441]
23,367 killed 24 February – 16 April 2022 Russian government[442]
Russian forces
(RAF, Rosgvardiya, FSB)
1,351 killed, 3,825 wounded[f] 24 February – 25 March 2022 Russian government[444]
2,622+ killed 24 February – 18 May 2022 Meduza & BBC News Russian[445]
Donetsk PR forces 1,808 killed, 7,536 wounded 26 February – 19 May 2022 Donetsk PR[g]
Luhansk PR forces 500–600 killed 24 February – 5 April 2022 Russian government[h]
Russian and allied forces
(RAF, Rosgvardiya, FSB,
PMC Wagner, DPR & LPR)
10,000+ killed 24 February – 30 March 2022 US estimate[449]
15,000 killed 24 February – 23 May 2022 UK estimate[450]
29,050 losses[i] 24 February – 22 May 2022 Ukrainian government[451]

Combat deaths can be inferred from a variety of sources, including satellite imagery and video footage of military actions.[456] Both Russian and Ukrainian sources are widely considered to inflate casualty numbers in opposing forces, while downplaying their own losses for the sake of morale. Both sides also tend to be quieter about their own military fatalities, with Russian news outlets having largely stopped reporting the Russian death toll.[457][458][459][457][460] Russia and Ukraine admitted to suffering "significant" and "considerable" losses, respectively.[459][460] According to BBC News, Ukrainian claims of Russian fatalities were including the injured as well.[452][453] AFP, as well as independent conflict monitors, reported that they had not been able to verify Russian and Ukrainian claims of enemy losses, but suspected they were inflated.[461]

The number of civilian and military deaths is impossible to determine with precision given the fog of war.[462][456] The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) considers the number of civilian casualties to be considerably higher than the figure the United Nations are able to certify.[463]

Prisoners of war

Official statistics and informed estimates about prisoners of war have varied.[464] In the initial stages of the invasion, on 24 February, Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the US, said that a platoon of the 74th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade from Kemerovo Oblast surrendered, saying they were unaware that they had been brought to Ukraine and tasked with killing Ukrainians.[465] Russia claimed to have captured 572 Ukrainian soldiers by 2 March 2022,[466] while Ukraine claimed 562 Russian soldiers were being held as prisoners as of 20 March,[467] with 10 previously reported released in a prisoner exchange for five Ukrainian soldiers and the mayor of Melitopol.[468][469] Subsequently, the first large prisoner exchange took place on 24 March, when 10 Russian and 10 Ukrainian soldiers, as well as 11 Russian and 19 Ukrainian civilian sailors, were exchanged.[470][471] On 1 April 86 Ukrainian servicemen were exchanged[472] for an unknown number of Russian troops.[473]

On 8 March, a Ukrainian defence reporter with The Kyiv Independent announced that the Ukrainian government was working towards having Russian POWs work to help revive the Ukrainian economy, in full compliance with international law.[474] In the first weeks of March, human rights organisations called on the Ukrainian government to uphold the rights of Russian prisoners of war under the Third Geneva Convention and to stop circulating videos of captured Russian soldiers being humiliated or intimidated.[475][476] On 27 March, a video purportedly showing Ukrainian soldiers shooting Russian prisoners in the knees was uploaded on Telegram, prompting concerns about torture and arbitrary executions of prisoners of war.[477][478][479] Another video showing Ukrainian troops killing Russian prisoners was posted on Telegram on 6 April and was verified by The New York Times and by Reuters.[480][481] The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine expressed worries about the treatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war held by forces of Russia and the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics. Videos showing Ukrainian war prisoners being forced to sing pro-Russian songs or carrying bruises attracted concerns about their treatment.[482]

Refugees

Ukrainian refugees in Kraków protest against the war, 6 March 2022

The war has caused the largest refugee and humanitarian crisis within Europe since the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s;[483][484] the UN has described it as the fastest-growing such crisis since World War II.[485] As Russia built up military forces along the Ukrainian border, many neighbouring governments and aid organisations prepared for a mass displacement event in the weeks before the invasion. In December 2021, the Ukrainian defence minister estimated that an invasion could force three to five million people to flee their homes.[486]

In the first week of the invasion, the UN reported over a million refugees had fled Ukraine; this subsequently rose to over 6.4 million by 20 May.[18][16] Most refugees were women, children, the elderly, or people with disabilities.[487][488][489] As of 3 May, another 8 million people were displaced inside Ukraine.[490] By 20 March, a total of ten million Ukrainians had fled their homes, making it the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the contemporary era.[491] Most male Ukrainian nationals aged 18 to 60 were denied exit from Ukraine as part of mandatory conscription,[492] unless they were responsible for the financial support of three or more children, single fathers, or were the parent/guardian of children with disabilities.[493] Many Ukrainian men, including teenagers, in any case opted to remain in Ukraine to join the resistance.[494]

According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, as of 13 May, there were 3,315,711 refugees in Poland, 901,696 in Romania, 594,664 in Hungary, 461,742 in Moldova, 415,402 in Slovakia, and 27,308 in Belarus, while Russia reported it had received over 800,104 refugees.[495] As of 23 March, over 300,000 refugees had arrived in the Czech Republic.[496] Turkey has been another significant destination, registering more than 58,000 Ukrainian refugees as of 22 March, and more than 85,000 as of 25 April.[497][498][499] The EU invoked the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time in its history, granting Ukrainian refugees the right to live and work in the EU for up to three years.[500]

Ukraine has accused Russia of forcibly moving civilians to "filtration centers" in Russian-held territory and thence to Russia, which Ukrainian sources compared to Soviet-era population transfers and Russian actions in the Chechen War of Independence.[501][502] As of 8 April, Russia claimed to have evacuated about 121,000 Mariupol residents to Russia.[502] RIA Novosti and Ukrainian officials said that thousands were dispatched to various centers in cities in Russia and Russian-occupied Ukraine,[503] from which people were sent to economically depressed regions of Russia.[504] Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said Russia also plans to build concentration camps for Ukrainians in western Siberia, whose prisoners will be forced to help build new cities.[505][506][j]

A second refugee crisis created by the invasion and by the Russian government's suppression of human rights has been the flight of about 300,000 Russian political refugees and economic migrants, the largest exodus from Russia since the October Revolution of 1917,[508][509] to countries such as the Baltic states, Finland, Georgia, Turkey, and Central Asia.[510][511] By 22 March, it was estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 high-tech workers had left the country, and 70,000 to 100,000 more might follow. Fears arose over the effect of this flight of talent on Russian economic development.[512] Some joined the Russian resistance to the Putin regime and sought to help Ukraine,[513] and some faced discrimination for being Russian.[514][515] On 6 May, the Moscow Times, citing data from the FSB, reported that almost four million Russians had left the country.[516]

Impact on agriculture and food supplies

Ukraine is among the world's top agricultural producers and exporters and is often described as the "bread basket of Europe".[517] During the 2020/21 international wheat marketing season (July–June), it ranked as the sixth largest wheat exporter, accounting for nine percent of world wheat trade.[518] The country is also a major global exporter of maize, barley and rapeseed. In 2020/21, it accounted for 12 percent of global trade in maize and barley and for 14 percent of world rapeseed exports. Its trade share is even greater in the sunflower oil sector, with the country accounting for about 50 percent of world exports in 2020/2021.[518]

Due to the Russian invasion, disruptions to the grain and oilseed sectors of Ukraine are likely. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), this would cause further loss of life and increase humanitarian needs.[519] In addition, potential food and fertiliser export difficulties encountered by the Russian Federation as a result of economic sanctions could jeopardise the food security of many countries.[519] Particularly vulnerable are those that are highly dependent on Ukraine and the Russian Federation for their food and fertiliser imports.[519] Several of these countries fall into the Least Developed Country (LDC) group, while many others belong to the group of Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs).[520][521] For example Eritrea sourced 47% of its wheat imports in 2021 from Ukraine. The other 53% came from the Russian Federation. Overall, more than 30 nations depend on Ukraine and Russia for over 30% of their wheat import needs, with many of them located in North Africa, and in Western and Central Asia.[518]

A Russian attack damaged the Kozarovychi Dam [uk], which regulates flow from the Kyiv Reservoir, causing flooding along the Irpin River.[393] A Russian missile attack on Kyiv Dam on the Dnieper River was blocked by Ukrainian defences. A breach could have triggered flooding of parts of Kyiv, damaged downstream dams, and threatened the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.[522] Russian forces blew up the dam on the North Crimean Canal which Ukraine had erected to block water flow to agricultural lands in Crimea seized by Russia in 2014.[522] Russians cut civilian water service as part of the Siege of Mariupol.[522]

The Ukrainian Defence Ministry has accused Russia of stealing "hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grain" from grain elevators and other storage facilities throughout occupied Ukraine, and transporting the grain to occupied ports for use in trade.[523][524] Theft of grain from occupied regions of Ukraine has the potential to intensify food crises, with both the Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture and the U.N. World Food Programme warning that this could worsen the Ukrainian food crisis, and even exacerbate global hunger.[525]

Effects on Russian forces

Several Russian soldiers, captured by Ukrainians forces, claimed that Russian officers killed their wounded.[526] There were also claims that Russian soldiers have killed their commanding officers,[527] and that Russian officers committed suicide.[528] Ukrainian intelligence released a phone intercept that it claims is between a Russian soldier and his girlfriend: “Yes, damn it, I’m thinking of f**king my hand on some corner and leave ... And say that it was hit with shrapnel. And go home, for f**k’s sake, with three million ... Or f**king hammer a fragment in my leg…”. Another claimed intercepted call between a soldier and his mother, the soldier says: “I had a commander who shot himself in the leg just to get out of here. And that was in the very beginning [of the war].” [529][530]

Peace efforts

Peace talks: First phase of invasion (24 February to 7 April)

In the first government delegation to Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia met with Zelenskyy in Kyiv on 15 March 2022.[531]

On 28 February, Ukrainian and Russian negotiators began talks in Belarus aimed at a ceasefire and ensuring humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians. After three rounds of talks, no deal was reached.[532] On 5 March, Russia declared a five-and-a-half-hour ceasefire in Mariupol and Volnovakha, to open humanitarian corridors for civilians to evacuate.[533][534] Ukraine blamed Russian forces for repeatedly breaking the ceasefire by shelling the two cities;[535][536] the Russian defence ministry stated the firing came from inside both cities against Russian positions.[536] The International Committee of the Red Cross declared that the effort to evacuate civilians had failed.[537]

On 7 March, as a condition for ending the invasion, the Kremlin demanded Ukraine's neutrality,[538] recognition of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, as Russian territory, and recognition of the self-proclaimed separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.[539] The same day, Russia declared a temporary ceasefire in Kyiv, Sumy, and two other cities, starting from 10:30 Moscow Time (UTC+3).[540] On 8 March, Zelenskyy suggested a direct meeting with Putin to end the invasion and expressed willingness to discuss Putin's demands.[541] Zelenskyy said he was ready for dialogue, but "not for capitulation".[542] He proposed a new collective security agreement for Ukraine with the US, Turkey, France, Germany, and Russia as an alternative to the country joining NATO.[543] Zelenskyy's Servant of the People party said that Ukraine would not give up Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk.[544] However, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was considering giving the Russian language protected minority status.[545]

On 10 March, Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Dmytro Kuleba met for talks in Antalya, Turkey, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu as a mediator within the scope of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, in the first high-level contact between the two sides since the beginning of the invasion.[546] On 15 March, during the fourth round of talks, Zelenskyy suggested that Ukraine would accept not pursuing membership of NATO.[547] On 17 March, the Financial Times reported that a 15-point plan negotiated with Russia was identified by Zelenskyy as offering a more "realistic" possibility for ending the war than previous talks.[548] Mykhailo Podolyak, continuing as the chief negotiator for the Ukrainian peace delegation, indicated that peace negotiations of a 15-point plan would involve the retraction of Russian forces from their advanced positions in Ukraine, along with international guarantees for military support and alliance in case of renewed Russian military action, in return for Ukraine not pursuing further affiliation with NATO.[549]

On 17 March, Çavuşoğlu was the first foreign minister to visit Ukraine after the start of the invasion. In a joint meeting with Kuleba, he reiterated support for Ukraine and revealed plans for a collective security agreement for Ukraine involving the US, Russia, UK, France, Germany, and Turkey, and called for leaders of both countries to meet in person, stating that the "hopes for ceasefire have increased".[550] Shortly afterwards, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reportedly received intelligence that the Russians might be disingenuous and warned that Russia was only "pretending to negotiate", in line with a strategy it has used elsewhere.[551]

On 20 March, Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said the two sides were getting closer on four key issues. He cited Russia's demand for Ukraine to renounce ambitions to join NATO, demilitarisation, what Russia has referred to as "denazification", and the protection of the Russian language in Ukraine, with the issues of Crimea and Donbas being the most pressing of the negotiations.[552] However, that same day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that no significant progress had been made in peace talks, accusing Ukraine of stalling the talks by making proposals unacceptable for Russia. In response, Ukraine reiterated its willingness to negotiate but stated it would not accept Russian ultimatums.[553] On 22 March, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that "elements of diplomatic progress" were coming into view "on several key issues" and that an immediate cease-fire was possible; he urged the parties involved to cease hostilities immediately and enter into serious negotiations as the war was "unwinnable" on the battlefield.[554]

On 28 March, Zelenskyy confirmed that renewed peace talks with Russia would start in Istanbul on 29 March, to discussing Ukrainian neutrality towards Russia along with the repudiation of any claims for Ukrainian NATO membership in the future.[555] On 29 March, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas indicated agreement with Le Drian that any Russian offers of peaceful negotiation about Ukraine or withdrawal from Kyiv should be met with diplomatic scepticism, based on a history of unreliability by Russia in similar peace negotiations with other countries.[551][556]

Peace talks: Second phase of invasion (8 April to present)

On 11 April, Chancellor of Austria Karl Nehammer visited and spoke with Putin in Moscow in 'very direct, open and hard' talks which were sceptical of the short term peaceful resolution of the invasion.[557] By 26 April, Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres visited Russia to speak with Putin and Lavrov in separate meetings, and afterwards indicated skepticism as to any short term resolution of differences between Russia and Ukraine, largely due to the very different perspectives on the invasion of the two nations.[558] Peace talks and stability of international borders were further discussed in parliament during the week of 9 May within both Sweden and Finland for application to become full members of NATO.[559]

On 15 May, Putin convened the Collective Security Treaty Organization consisting of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus to discuss issues of peace and border security related to Ukraine and NATO.[560] In response to perceived instability of Russia's border with Finland following the application of Finland and Sweden for NATO membership, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia would deploy and station 12 divisions of troops on Russia's border with Finland while cancellling all shipments of oil and natural gas to Finland.[561] On 22 May, while visiting in Japan to discuss cooperative efforts between Japan and the US to assist peacuful resolutions to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden stated that current US treaties with Taiwan would see the US providing direct military support to Taiwan in the event of diplomatic or military pressure exerted by China, in contrast to the limits of its financial support of Ukraine resisting Russian military operations.[562]

Legal implications

Executed people with wrists bound in plastic restraints, in a basement in Bucha
A children's hospital in Mariupol after Russian airstrike

The Russian invasion of Ukraine was an act of aggression that violated the Charter of the United Nations. In addition, Russia was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and waging war in violation of international law, indiscriminately attacking densely populated areas and exposing civilians to unnecessary and disproportionate harm.[563][564][565] Russian forces used cluster munitions, repudiated by most states because of their immediate and long-term danger to civilians.[566][567][568] and fired other wide-area explosives like air-dropped bombs, missiles, heavy artillery shells and multiple launch rockets.[566] Ukrainian forces reportedly also fired cluster munition rockets.[569] Russian attacks damaged or destroyed homes, hospitals, schools and kindergartens[566] the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant,[570] and 191 cultural properties such as historic buildings and churches.[571][572] As of 25 March, the attacks had resulted in at least 1,035 civilian deaths and at least 1,650 civilian injuries.[565][566] Russian forces were accused of forcibly deporting thousands of civilians to Russia,[573] sexual assaults,[574] and deliberately killing Ukrainian civilians.[575] When Ukrainian forces recaptured Bucha in late March, evidence emerged of war crimes, including torture and deliberate killings of civilians, including children.[576][577][578]

The invasion also violated the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court and prohibits "the invasion or attack ... or any annexation by the use of force". Russia withdrew from the statute in 2016 and does not recognise ICC authority.[579] but thirty-nine member states officially referred the matter to the ICC,[580] and Ukraine accepted ICC jurisdiction in 2014.[581] On 2 March, Karim Ahmad Khan, prosecutor for the ICC, opened a full investigation into past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed in Ukraine by any person from 21 November 2013 on.[582] The ICC also set up an online portal for people with evidence to contact investigators, and sent investigators, lawyers and other professionals to Ukraine collect evidence.[583][584]

On 4 March 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council created the International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, an independent committee of three human rights experts with a mandate to investigate violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the invasion.[585][586] In the first month of the invasion, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, deployed by OHCHR, documented arbitrary detentions in Russian-occupied territories of 21 journalists and civil society activists, and 24 public officials and civil servants.[587][566][588] They also expressed concern about reports and videos of ill-treatment, torture, and public humiliation of civilians and prisoners of war in territory controlled by Ukraine, allegedly committed by police officers and territorial defence forces.[566][479] They have been monitoring human rights violations by all parties since 2014, employing nearly 60 UN human rights monitors.

In late March, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova stated that Ukrainian prosecutors had collected evidence for 2,500 "possible war crimes cases" and had "several hundred suspects".[589] On 13 May the first war crimes trial began in Kyiv, of a Russian soldier who was ordered to shoot an unarmed civilian.[590]

Ukraine filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Russia of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention, which both Ukraine and Russia had signed, with false claims of genocide as a pretext for the invasion.[591] The International Association of Genocide Scholars supported Ukraine's request that the ICJ direct Russia to halt its offensive in Ukraine. On 16 March, the ICJ ordered Russia to "immediately suspend the military operations" on a 13–2 vote, with the Russian and Chinese judges in opposition.[592][593] The order is binding, but the ICJ has no means of enforcement.[594]

Under international criminal law's principle of universal jurisdiction,[595][596] investigations were opened in Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.[597][598]

Media depictions

Social media users shared real-time information about the invasion.[599] Depictions of earlier events or other misinformation, sometimes deliberate, were also shared, in addition to authentic first-hand portrayals.[600][601][602] While many outlets tagged these misleading videos and images as false content, other sites did not.[603]

Russian state-controlled media systematically downplays both civilian and military losses, and denounces reports of attacks on civilians as "fake" or blames Ukrainian forces.[604]
Putin and Konstantin Ernst, chief of Russia's main state-controlled TV station Channel One.[605]

Putin introduced prison sentences of up to 15 years for publishing "fake news" about Russian military operations,[606] and fines or up to three years prison for calling for sanctions,[607][608][609] prompting most Russian outlets to stop reporting on Ukraine. Russian censor Roskomnadzor ordered media to only use information from Russian state sources,[610] and to describe the war as a "special military operation".[611][612][613][614] Roskomnadzor also restricted access to Facebook,[615] after it refused to stop fact-checking posts by state-owned Zvezda, RIA Novosti, Lenta.ru, and Gazeta.Ru.[616] Pro-Kremlin television pundits like Vladimir Solovyov and Russian state-controlled channels like Russia-24,[617] Russia-1,[618] and Channel One[619] follow the government narrative.[620][621][622] The state-controlled TV where most Russians get their news,[623] presented the invasion as a liberation mission.[624][625] Echo of Moscow closed down,[626] and Roskomnadzor blocked access to BBC News Russian, Voice of America, RFE/RL, Deutsche Welle, and Meduza, as well as Facebook and Twitter.[627][628][629]

Ukrainian propaganda focused on awareness of the war and Ukraine's need for weapons.[630] Official Ukrainian social media accounts targeted recruiting and international aid.[631]

State-controlled media in China saw an opportunity for anti-American propaganda,[632] and along with Cuban state media,[633] amplified false claims of "secret US biolabs".[634] State outlets in Serbia[635] and Iran[636][637] repeated Russian propaganda, as did RT Actualidad in Latin America.[638] Pro-government Turkish media blamed NATO and the US for the war.[639] Fidesz media outlets in Hungary claimed that Ukraine provoked the war by becoming "a military base for America".[640] Vietnam told reporters not to say "invasion", and to minimise coverage.[641] South Africa's African National Congress endorsed the denazification narrative.[642][641] Some Indonesian social media users and academics also spread Russian propaganda.[643][644]

Some criticised the greater emphasis on events in Ukraine than on those in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen, claiming racial bias and a racial "double standard" when it comes to news reporting.[645][646][647][648]

Sanctions and ramifications

US president Joe Biden's statements and a short question and answer session on 24 February 2022

Western countries and others imposed limited sanctions on Russia when it recognised Donbas as an independent nation. When the attack began, many other countries applied sanctions intended to cripple the Russian economy.[649] The sanctions targeted individuals, banks, businesses, monetary exchanges, bank transfers, exports, and imports.[650][651] The sanctions cut major Russian banks from SWIFT, the global messaging network for international payments, but left some limited accessibility to ensure the continued ability to pay for gas shipments.[652] Sanctions also included asset freezes on the Russian Central Bank, which holds $630 billion in foreign-exchange reserves,[653] to prevent it from offsetting the impact of sanctions[654][655] and froze the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.[656] By 1 March, total Russian assets frozen by sanctions amounted to $1 trillion.[657]

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), warned that the conflict posed a substantial economic risk both regionally and internationally. The IMF could help other countries affected, she said, in addition to the $2.2 billion loan package for Ukraine. David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group, warned of far-reaching economic and social effects, and reported that the bank was preparing options for significant economic and fiscal support to Ukraine and the region.[658] Economic sanctions affected Russia from the first day of the invasion, with its stock market falling by up to 39% (RTS Index). The Russian ruble fell to record lows, and Russians rushed to exchange currency.[659][660][661] Stock exchanges in Moscow and Saint Petersburg closed until at least 18 March,[662] the longest closure in Russia's history.[663] On 26 February, S&P Global Ratings downgraded the Russian government credit rating to "junk", causing funds that require investment-grade bonds to dump Russian debt, making further borrowing very difficult for Russia.[664] On 11 April, S&P Global placed Russia under "selective default" on its foreign debt for insisting on payments in rubles.[665]

The National Bank of Ukraine suspended currency markets, announcing that it would fix the official exchange rate. The central bank also limited cash withdrawals to 100,000 hryvnia a day and prohibited foreign currency withdrawals by the general public. The PFTS Ukraine Stock Exchange on 24 February suspended trading due to the emergency.[666]

On 24 March, Joe Biden's administration issued an executive order, that barred the sale of Russian gold reserves in the international market.[667] Gold has been one of Russia's major avenues to protect its economy from the impact of the sanctions imposed since the 2014 annexation of Crimea.[668] In April 2022, Russia supplied 45% of EU's natural gas imports, earning $900 million a day.[669] Russia is the world's largest exporter of natural gas,[670] grains, and fertilisers, and among the world's largest suppliers of crude oil, coal, steel and metals,[671] including palladium, platinum, gold, cobalt, nickel, and aluminium.[672][673] In May 2022, the European Commission proposed a ban on oil imports from Russia.[674]

Reactions

UN General Assembly Resolution ES-11/1 vote on 2 March 2022 condemning the invasion of Ukraine and demanding a complete withdrawal of Russian troops.
  In favour
  Against
  Abstained
  Absent
  Non-member

The invasion received widespread international condemnation from governments and intergovernmental organisations, with reactions including new sanctions imposed on Russia, which triggered widespread economic effects on the Russian and world economies.[51] The European Union financed and delivered military equipment to Ukraine. The bloc also implemented various economic sanctions, including a ban on Russian aircraft using EU airspace,[675] a SWIFT ban on certain Russian banks, and a ban on certain Russian media outlets.[676] Non-government reactions to the invasion included widespread boycotts of Russia and Belarus in the areas of entertainment, media, business, and sport.[677] Many Africans and Middle Easterners working and studying in Ukraine have reported racism at the hands of Ukrainian and other Eastern European countries.[678] The head of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has asked whether or not "the world really gives equal attention to black and white lives". He then proceeded to list other countries and compared them to the coverage of Ukraine, Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria.[679]

Protest by Russians living in the Czech Republic, 26 March 2022. The white-blue-white flag is a symbol of anti-war protests in Russia.

There were also immediate worldwide protests against the invasion and daily protests in Russia itself.[680] As well as the demonstrations, petitions and open letters were published in opposition to the war, and public figures, both cultural and political, released statements against the war.[681] The protests were met with widespread repression by the Russian authorities. According to OVD-Info, at least 14,906 people were detained from 24 February to 13 March 2022.[682][683] The Russian government cracked down on other forms of opposition to the war, including introducing widespread censorship measures and repression against people who signed anti-war petitions.[684] As well as the protests, there were also reported instances of anti-Russian sentiment and discrimination against the Russian diaspora and Russian-speaking immigrants as a result of the war.[685][686]

In some parts of Ukraine that were newly occupied by Russian armed forces, protests against the occupiers took place.[687][688] In China,[689] India,[690][691] Indonesia,[692] Malaysia[693] and the Arab regions, many social media users showed sympathy for Russian narratives due in part to distrust of US foreign policy.[694] At the end of April, a poll conducted in Russia by the Levada Center concluded the following: "74% of Russians support Russia's invasion in Ukraine and the actions of the Russian military. 19% of respondents said they did not support the actions of the Russian Federation. Meanwhile, 39% of respondents said that they were not following the war in Ukraine."[695] Many respondents in Russia do not want to answer pollsters' questions for fear of negative consequences.[696] When a group of researchers commissioned a survey on Russians' attitudes to the war in Ukraine, 29,400 of the 31,000 people they called refused to answer when they heard the question.[697]

Pope Francis said that NATO may have caused Russia's invasion of Ukraine, because the alliance was "barking" at Russia's door.[698] He also warned that the war in Ukraine was becoming like the Spanish Civil War, in which new and more powerful weapons were tested, such as the Messerschmitt 109 before its use in World War II.[699]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b The Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic are separatist states that declared their independence in May 2014. They have received recognition from each other, from the de facto states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and from Russia (since 2022).[1][2][3][4]
  2. ^ Russian forces were permitted to stage part of the invasion from Belarusian territory.[5][6] Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko also stated that Belarusian troops could take part in the invasion if needed,[7] and Belarusian territory was used to launch missiles into Ukraine.[8] Ukrainian officials have claimed that Belarusian troops have entered Ukraine.[9] See also: Belarusian involvement in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
  3. ^ Outside of Ukraine, there was spillover into Russian cities of Millerovo, Belgorod, Klimovo and Otradny in Belgorodsky District of Belgorod Oblast[10][11]
  4. ^ See table here for a detailed breakdown of civilian deaths by oblast, according to Ukrainian authorities
  5. ^ The DPR stated 580 of its civilians were killed and 1,740 wounded between 1 January and 20 May 2022,[436] of which 8 died and 23 were wounded between 1 January and 25 February 2022,[437] leaving a total of 580 killed and 1,717 wounded in the period of the Russian invasion.
  6. ^ Includes only servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces.[443]
  7. ^ The DPR stated 1,821 of its servicemen were killed and 7,586 wounded between 1 January and 20 May 2022,[446] of which 13 died and 50 were wounded between 1 January and 25 February 2022,[437] leaving a total of 1,808 killed and 7,536 wounded in the period of the Russian invasion.
  8. ^ Russia stated 1,500 DPR and LPR servicemen were killed 24 Feb.–5 April 2022.[447] Taking into account that officially confirmed DPR losses were 979 killed 26 Feb.–7 April 2022,[448][437] it can be estimated 500–600 LPR servicemen died 24 Feb.–5 April 2022.
  9. ^ The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine uses the terms "combat losses" and "liquidated".[451] According to the BBC, these figures include wounded soldiers,[452][453] while others interpret the figures to be referring to only those killed.[454][455]
  10. ^ Most likely, new cities meant new industrial cities in Siberia, the construction plans of which were announced by Shoigu in the fall of 2021.[507]

References

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  2. ^ "The Republic of Abkhazia and the Donetsk People's Republic established diplomatic relations". 9 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  3. ^ "respublika abkhaziya i luganskaya narodnaya respublika ustanovili diplomaticheskie otnosheniya" АБХАЗИЯ И ЛУГАНСКАЯ НАРОДНАЯ РЕСПУБЛИКА УСТАНОВИЛИ ДИПЛОМАТИЧЕСКИЕ ОТНОШЕНИЯ [ABKHAZIA AND THE LUGANSK PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC HAVE ESTABLISHED DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS] (in Russian). 10 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  4. ^ Luhn, Alec (6 November 2014). "Ukraine's rebel 'people's republics' begin work of building new states". The Guardian. Donetsk. eISSN 1756-3224. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Archived from the original on 26 January 2022. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
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  7. ^ Rodionov, Maxim; Balmforth, Tom (25 February 2022). "Belarusian troops could be used in operation against Ukraine if needed, Lukashenko says". Reuters. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  8. ^ "Missiles launched into Ukraine from Belarus". BBC News. 27 February 2022. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  9. ^ "Ukrainian Official Says Belarus Has Joined the War, as Russia Pummels Kharkiv". Time. 1 March 2022. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  10. ^ "В Белгородском районе сообщили, что село Отрадное обстреляли с территории Украины" [In the Belgorod region reported that the village of Otradnoe was fired from the territory of Ukraine]. TASS (in Russian). 24 April 2022.
  11. ^ "В поле у села Отрадное в Белгородской области прилетел снаряд со стороны Украины" [A shell from Ukraine landed in a field near the village of Otradnoe in the Belgorod region]. Kommersant (in Russian). 24 April 2022.
  12. ^ Barnes, Julian E.; Crowley, Michael; Schmitt, Eric (10 January 2022). "Russia Positioning Helicopters, in Possible Sign of Ukraine Plans". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 22 January 2022. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  13. ^ Bengali, Shashank (18 February 2022). "The U.S. says Russia's troop buildup could be as high as 190,000 in and near Ukraine". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 February 2022. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  14. ^ a b Hackett, James, ed. (February 2021). The Military Balance 2021 (1st ed.). Abingdon, Oxfordshire: International Institute for Strategic Studies. ISBN 978-1-03-201227-8. OCLC 1292198893. OL 32226712M.
  15. ^ The Military Balance 2022. International Institute for Strategic Studies. February 2022. ISBN 9781000620030.
  16. ^ a b Blake, Daniel Keane, Elly (15 March 2022). "What is the Homes for Ukraine refugees scheme and how do you apply?". Evening Standard. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  17. ^ Pita, Antonio; Costa, Raúl Sánchez (3 March 2022). "Ukrainian exodus could be Europe's biggest refugee crisis since World War II". El Pais. Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  18. ^ a b "Situation Ukraine Refugee Situation". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  19. ^ Ratcliffe, Rebecca; Clayton, Abené; Gabbatt, Adam; Chao-Fong, Léonie; Lock, Samantha; Ambrose, Tom (19 March 2022). "Biden outlines 'consequences' if China aids Russia – as it happened". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 March 2022. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  20. ^ "Ukraine war: Putin being misled by fearful advisers, US says". BBC News. 31 March 2022. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
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