Russia began Europe's largest war since WWII one year ago. Russian tanks poured into Ukraine, driving inhabitants to subterranean bunkers and the country's borders. Countries throughout the globe imposed harsh sanctions on Russia in a failed attempt to persuade President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict. Despite the odds, Ukraine's military has maintained its ground, recovering control of large areas of seized land and repelling Russian advances in the east, where ferocious fighting continue.
Credit: Stanislav Krasilnikov; TASS
The human toll has been staggering: tens of thousands have been killed, and over 8 million Ukrainians have fled abroad. The economic ramifications are also being felt across the world, from the search for alternative energy sources in Europe to increasing food prices in Africa.
We are all here. Our soldiers are here; the citizens of our country are all here protecting our independence.
- Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Credit: Johanna Geron; Pool
Control Of The Battleground.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine came after a months-long build-up of soldiers around its neighbour’s borders, as well as last-minute diplomatic attempts spearheaded by Western nations to avoid conflict. Although initially dismissing US concerns of an impending invasion, Russian officials said they would continue to support armed rebels in eastern Ukraine and thwart the former Soviet republic's attempts to join NATO.
In a televised address, Putin hailed Ukraine as a vital part of Russian history and heritage, which served as a direct prelude to the war. He publicly challenged the country's legitimacy to exist as a nation, which had been legally recognised three decades before. Following the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and eight years of fighting in Ukraine's Donbas region between Ukrainian forces and Moscow-backed separatists, the United States and allies increased their military presence in eastern Europe. They vowed to protect NATO members near Ukraine from any potential aggression.
Ukraine is not just a neighbouring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space.
- Vladimir Putin
Credit: Pavel Bednyakov; SPUTNIK
Russian soldiers cross into Ukraine en-masse, a lot of them being unaware of what’s actually taking place. Russia launches missile strikes across Ukraine, causing a humanitarian disaster and fierce condemnation in the West. Russian army takes the site of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster in their assault on Kyiv.
As claims of war crimes surface, Russia announces its military pull-out from the Kyiv area. The damage on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital was extensive.
The Moskva, Russia's Black Sea naval flagship, is sunk by Ukraine, the first of numerous high-profile failures for Moscow. Russia alleges first-ever cross-border assaults and accuses Ukraine soldiers.
Mariupol, a strategic port city, capitulates to Russian forces following a three-month siege. Russia occupies Lyman, a key transit hub in the east, a few days later.
Ukraine and Moldova have been formally invited to become candidate states for EU membership. After fierce combat, Russian soldiers take the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk.
Turkey and the United Nations reach agreement to begin grain shipments, alleviating the global food supply crisis. Almost 600 grain-laden ships have since left three Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
Inspectors from the United Nations have arrived in Zaporizhzhia to assess the troubled nuclear power facility. The proposed agreement to create a safety zone around the site remains elusive.
While Ukraine's counter-offensive gains ground in the east, Zelenskyy visits recaptured the city of Izium. Advancing forces approach the Russian border, claiming retaken 6,000 square kilometres.
Moscow organises referendums in four occupied districts days after the mobilisation order is dismissed by the West and Kyiv. According to Moscow, 300,000 reservists will be called up.
Moscow launches a lethal series of attacks across Ukraine using Iranian-made drones, pounding infrastructure and the power grid. The attacks became more intense after a massive bomb on the Crimean Bridge caused a partial collapse.
November - December 2022
Ukrainian soldiers drive the Russians out of Kherson and over the Dnieper River, which splits the nation. NATO renews its resolve to assist Ukraine for as long as it is required.
January - February 2023
After US and UK visits, Ukraine's Zelenskyy meets with EU leaders and demands a heavy weapons promise ahead of the spring. Russia expands its attacks in the eastern Donbas area, which borders Russia.
Biden makes a surprise appearance in Kyiv, announcing unconditional support for Ukraine.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine had reached Kyiv's outskirts, the tranquil districts of Bucha and Irpin near the capital's airport and a half-hour drive from the city. Before the conflict, it was a weekend getaway for Kyiv residents to visit a restaurant or a shopping centre. Currently, the name Bucha is linked with the cruelty of Russia's offensive and is the subject of an international war crimes inquiry following the discovery of hundreds of mass graves in the aftermath of Russia's retreat.
Credit: Zahra Bensemra; Reuters
The world economy is still suffering as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with grain, fertiliser, and oil shortages. European economies are trying to avoid recession as the largest energy price shock in decades, combined with supply uncertainty, causes worldwide hardship. The IMF reduced growth forecasts for this year and 2022, amounting to $1 trillion in lost output.
Inflationary pressures have caused people in industrialised countries to lose income while dealing with increasing expenses and loan obligations. Poorer nations, which were already suffering from high food costs, have been impacted much harder, adding to the disruption produced by the pandemic and stalling global efforts to pull millions out of poverty.
World oil prices skyrocketed shortly after the war began. Fears of a major loss of Russian oil to the market drove up prices in June. Spikes were followed by drops in August, fuelled by worries of a global economic slowdown and lower-than-expected Russian output.
Cargo ship Razoni departs from port of Odesa, Ukraine; Credit: Metin Aktaş/Anadolu
With no prospect of peace in sight, Ukraine and Russia are rising from their winter standoff, prepared to battle for geopolitical objectives that are diametrically opposed. Ukraine intends to re-establish its internationally recognised boundaries, and its determined soldiers are now armed with more potent offensive weaponry supplied by the West. It has a huge task in training operators to handle new high-tech weaponry and levelling up its force in a fraction of the time that is ordinarily required.
Russia, with a great advantage in resources, wishes to keep the former Soviet neighbour in its orbit and prevent it from joining NATO. Russia controls approximately a fifth of Ukrainian land, including Crimea, the industrial Donbas region in the east, and substantial portions in the south, including Europe's largest nuclear power plant. The Russian military, on the other hand, has struggled to reorganise after a year of massive casualties and humiliating failures, including its retreat from large areas of seized territory as a result of Ukrainian counteroffensives.
According to military strategists, the war will continue until one side has enough influence to enforce demands in discussions. Some think that as the conflict enters its second year, Ukraine may try to cut off Russian access to the Crimean peninsula or that Moscow may try to overwhelm Kyiv's defences by reopening a second front from Belarus.