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2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Military offensive starting on 24 February 2022, part of the Russo-Ukrainian War

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Part of the Russo-Ukrainian War

Military situation as of 30 April 2022
   Ukraine
   Occupied Ukrainian land

For a more detailed map, see the Russo-Ukrainian War detailed map
Date24 February 2022 (2022-02-24) – present
(2 months and 1 week)
Location
Status Ongoing (list of engagements · control of cities · timeline of events)
Belligerents
 Ukraine
Commanders and leaders
Strength
  •  Russia:
  • Donetsk PR:
  • Luhansk PR:
  •  Ukraine:
    • 209,000 (armed forces)
    • 102,000 (paramilitary)
    • 900,000 (reserves)[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.

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, marking a steep escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014 following the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity. The invasion has caused Europe's largest refugee crisis since World War II,[16][17] with more than 5.4 million Ukrainians leaving the country[18] and a quarter of the population displaced.[19][20]

At the start of the war in 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, and Russian-backed separatists seized part of the south-eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, sparking a regional war there.[21][22] In 2021, Russia began a large military build-up along its border with Ukraine, amassing up to 190,000 troops along with their equipment. In a televised address shortly before the invasion, Russian president Vladimir Putin espoused irredentist views,[23] questioned 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 said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) constitutes a threat to Russia's national security by expanding eastward since the early 2000s, which NATO disputed.[28] Russia demanded NATO cease expansion and bar Ukraine from ever joining the alliance permanently.[29] The United States and others 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] In response, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy enacted martial law and general mobilisation of all male Ukrainian citizens for between the ages of 18 and 60, who were banned from leaving the country.[41][42]

At the start of the invasion on 24 February, the northern front was launched out of Belarus and targeting 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 Donbas).[43][44] On 8 April, the Russian ministry had announced that all its troops and divisions deployed in southeastern Ukraine would be united under General Alexander 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 second phase to the southeastern front.[45] By 17 April, progress on the southeastern front appeared to be impeded by residual troops continuing to hold-out in abandoned factories in Mariupol.[46] On 19 April, Russia 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.[47]

The invasion has been widely condemned internationally as an act of aggression.[48][49] The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution which 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,[50] and provided humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.[51] Protests occurred around the world; those in Russia have been met with mass arrests and increased media censorship,[52][53] 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 in the 2022 invasion.[54]

Background

Post-Soviet context and Orange Revolution

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

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) 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 former Soviet nuclear weapons in Ukraine were dismantled.[55] In return, Russia, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US) agreed to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine through the Budapest Memorandum.[56][57] In 1999, Russia was one of the signatories of 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, as they evolve".[58]

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][59][60]

The 2004 Ukrainian presidential election was controversial. During the election campaign, the pro-European integration opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned by TCDD dioxin;[61][62] he later implicated Russian involvement.[63] In November, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner, despite allegations of vote-rigging by election observers.[64] 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 to power Yushchenko as president and leaving Yanukovych in opposition.[65]

According to analyst Anthony Cordesman, Russian military officers viewed the Orange Revolution, and other pro-democracy colour revolutions within the post-Soviet states, as being instigated by Western countries to undermine Russia's national security.[66][67] Russian president Vladimir Putin described the 2011–2013 Russian protests as an attempt to transfer the Orange Revolution to Russia.[68] Rallies in favour of Putin during this period were called "anti-Orange protests".[69]

At the 2008 Bucharest summit, Ukraine and Georgia sought to join NATO. The response among NATO members was divided; Western European countries opposed offering Membership Action Plans (MAP) to avoid antagonising Russia, while US president George W. Bush pushed for their admission.[70] 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.[71] 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.[72] However, in the months prior to the 2022 invasion, the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO remained remote.[73]

Euromaidan, Revolution of Dignity, and the War in Donbas

Euromaidan protests in Kyiv, December 2013

In 2009, Yanukovych announced his intent to again run for president in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election,[74] which he subsequently won.[75] In November 2013, he announced he would not sign the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement, despite overwhelming support for the treaty within the Verkhovna Rada, instead choosing closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union.[76] Russia had put pressure on Ukraine to reject the agreement.[77] 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.[78]

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.[79] On 21 February 2014, Yanukovych and parliamentary opposition leaders signed an agreement calling for an interim government and early elections. The following day, Yanukovych fled Kyiv and later Ukraine;[80] parliament subsequently voted to remove him from office.[81][82][83] Leaders in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine declared continuing loyalty to Yanukovych,[84] leading to pro-Russian unrest.[85]

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

The unrest was followed by the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 and the war in Donbas, which started in April 2014 with the formation of two Russia-backed separatist quasi-states: the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic.[86][87] Russian troops were involved in the conflict.[88][89][90] The Minsk agreements were signed in September 2014 and February 2015 in a bid to stop the fighting, although ceasefires repeatedly failed.[91] 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.[92][93] 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.[94]

The annexation of Crimea led to a new wave of Russian nationalism, with large parts of the Russian neo-imperial movement aspiring to annexe more Ukrainian land, including the unrecognised Novorossiya.[95] Analyst Vladimir Socor argued that Putin's 2014 speech after the annexation of Crimea was a de facto "manifesto of Greater-Russia Irredentism".[96] In July 2021, Putin published an essay titled "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians", in which he reaffirmed his view that Russians and Ukrainians were "one people".[97]

American historian Timothy D. Snyder described Putin's ideas as imperialism,[98] while British journalist Edward Lucas called it historical revisionism.[99] Other observers regarded the Russian leadership as having a distorted view of modern Ukraine and its history.[100][101][102] Ukraine and other European countries neighbouring Russia accused Putin of irredentism, attempts to restore the Soviet Empire and of pursuing aggressive militaristic policies.[103][104][105]

Prelude

Rise in tensions (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.[106]

From March to April 2021, Russia commenced a major military build-up near the Russo-Ukrainian border. It was followed by a second build-up between October 2021 to February 2022 in both Russia and Belarus.[107] During these developments, the Russian government repeatedly denied it had plans to invade or attack Ukraine;[31][108] those who issued the denials included 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]

Putin's chief national security adviser, Nikolai Patrushev,[109] who believed that the West has been in an undeclared war with Russia for years,[110] was a leading figure behind Russia's updated national security strategy, published in May 2021. It stated that Russia may use "forceful methods" to "thwart or avert unfriendly actions that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation".[111][112]

In early December 2021, following Russian denials, the US released intelligence of Russian invasion plans, including satellite photographs showing Russian troops and equipment near the Russo-Ukrainian border.[113] The intelligence reported the existence of a Russian list of key sites and individuals to be killed or neutralised upon invasion.[114] The US continued to release reports that accurately predicted the invasion plans.[114]

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 the repression of Russian speakers in Ukraine. They also made multiple security demands of Ukraine, NATO, and non-NATO allies in the EU. These actions were described by commentators and Western officials as attempts to justify war.[115][116] On 9 December 2021, Putin said that "Russophobia is a first step towards genocide".[117][118] Putin's claims about "de-Nazification" have been described as absurd,[119] and Russian claims of genocide were widely rejected as baseless.[120][121][122] Scholars of genocide and Nazism said that Putin was abusing the term genocide and his claims were "factually wrong" and could only be interpreted symbolically or as historical anachronism.[26][123][124] Ukrainian president Zelenskyy declared that 16 February, a speculated date for the invasion, would be a "Day of Unity".[125][126]

Putin questioned the legitimacy of the Ukrainian state. In a 21 February speech,[127] he claimed that "Ukraine never had a tradition of genuine statehood",[128] 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]

While Ukraine, like Russia with its Russian Imperial Movement, long active in Donbas,[132] has a far-right fringe, including the neo-Nazi-linked Azov Battalion and Right Sector,[136] 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.[115][27][137] Ukrainian president Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, rebuked Putin's allegations, stating that his grandfather had served in the Soviet army fighting against the Nazis.[138] The US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem condemned the abuse of Holocaust history and the use of comparisons with Nazi ideology for propaganda.[139][140]

Vladimir Putin (right) and his long-time confidant Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu[141]

During the second build-up, Russia issued demands to the US and NATO, including a legally binding arrangement preventing Ukraine from ever joining NATO, and the removal of multinational forces stationed in NATO's Eastern European member states.[142] Russia threatened an unspecified military response if NATO continued to follow an "aggressive line".[143] These demands were widely interpreted as being non-viable; new NATO members in Central and Eastern Europe had joined the alliance because their populations broadly preferred to move towards the safety and economic opportunities offered by NATO and the EU, and their governments sought protection from Russian irredentism.[144] The demand for a formal treaty preventing Ukraine from joining NATO was also seen as unviable by Western officials, as it would contravene the treaty's "open door" policy, although NATO showed no desire to accede to Ukraine's requests to join.[145]

Alleged clashes (17–21 February 2022)

Fighting in Donbas escalated after 17 February 2022.[146] The Ukrainians and the Russian separatists accused one another of firing into their respective territories.[147][148] On 18 February, the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics ordered all civilians to leave their capitals,[149][150][151] although observers noted that full evacuations would take months.[152] Ukrainian media reported a sharp increase in artillery shelling by the Russian-led militants in Donbas as an attempt to provoke the Ukrainian army.[153][154]

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 amateur in quality[155][156]—that purported to show Ukrainian forces attacking Russians in Donbas; evidence showed that the claimed attacks, explosions, and evacuations were staged by Russia.[157] On 21 February, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said that Russian forces had killed five Ukrainian "saboteurs" that crossed into Russian territory, capturing one Ukrainian serviceman and destroying two armoured vehicles. The claim was denied by Ukraine and drew warnings that Russia was seeking further justification to start an invasion. The Sunday Times described it as "the first move in Putin's war plan".[158][159]

Escalation (21–23 February 2022)

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

On 21 February,[160] Putin announced that the Russian government would recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics.[161] The same evening, Putin directed that Russian troops be deployed into Donbas, in what Russia referred to as a "peacekeeping mission".[162][163] The 21 February intervention in Donbas was condemned by several members of the UN Security Council; none voiced support.[164] On 22 February, video footage shot in the early morning showed Russian armed forces and tanks moving in the Donbas region.[165] The Federation Council unanimously authorised the use of military force outside Russia.[35]

In response, Zelenskyy ordered the conscription of army reservists;[166] the following day, Ukraine's parliament proclaimed a 30-day nationwide state of emergency and ordered the mobilisation of all reservists.[167][168][169] Russia began to evacuate its embassy in Kyiv.[170] The websites of the Ukrainian parliament and government, along with banking websites, were hit by DDoS attacks,[171] widely attributed to Russian-backed hackers.[172][173] Chinese military attackers were also alleged to have conducted a massive cyberwarfare espionage programme on the eve of the invasion, including on nuclear infrastructure, pointing to advanced Chinese knowledge.[174][175]

On the night of 23 February,[176] Zelenskyy gave a speech in Russian in which he appealed to the citizens of Russia to prevent war.[177][178] He also refuted Russia's claims about the presence of neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian government and said that he had no intention of attacking the Donbas region.[179] Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on 23 February that the separatist leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk had sent a letter to Putin stating that Ukrainian shelling had caused civilian deaths and appealing for military support from Russia.[180]

In response, Ukraine requested an urgent UN Security Council meeting.[181][182] Half an hour into the emergency meeting, Putin announced the start of military operations in Ukraine. Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian representative, subsequently 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.[183][184]

Declaration of military operations

On 24 February, Putin announced that he had made the decision to launch a "special military operation" in eastern Ukraine.[185][186] In his pre-invasion speech, Putin said there were no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory and that he supported the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination.[187] 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".[188]

Putin said that Russia sought the "demilitarisation and denazification" of Ukraine.[189] Within minutes of Putin's announcement, explosions were reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, and the Donbas region.[190] An alleged leaked report from within the FSB claimed that the intelligence agency was not warned about Putin's plan to invade Ukraine.[191] Immediately following the attack, Zelenskyy announced the introduction of martial law in Ukraine.[192] 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.[193] 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.[194] 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.[107]

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.[185] 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.[195][196] 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.[197][198]

On 25 March, the Russian Defense 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".[199][200] The "first stage" of the invasion was conducted on four fronts.[201][202]

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.[203][204] 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.[205]

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.[206] 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.[207][208]

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 Donbas).[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.[204] 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.[196][195]

On the first day of the invasion, Russian forces advancing towards Kyiv from Belarus gained control of the ghost towns of Chernobyl and Pripyat.[209][210] 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,[211][212] followed by a similar landing at Vasylkiv, near Vasylkiv Air Base to the south of Kyiv, on 26 February.[213][214]

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.[215] 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.[216]

By early March, further Russian advances along the west side of the Dnipro were limited, after suffering setbacks from Ukrainian defence.[196][195] As of 5 March, a large Russian convoy, reportedly 64 kilometres (40 mi) in length, had made little progress toward Kyiv.[217] The London-based think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) assessed the Russian performance from the north and east as "stalled".[218] 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,[219][220] though Irpin remained contested as of 9 March.[221] 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.[222] On 16 March, Ukrainian forces began a counter-offensive to repel Russian forces approaching Kyiv from several surrounding cities.[223]

By 20 March, the Russian military appeared to be waging 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.[224][225][226] Unable to achieve a quick victory in Kyiv, Russian forces switched strategies and began using standoff weapons, indiscriminate bombing, and siege warfare.[224][227][228]

On 25 March, the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kyiv resulted in several towns to the east and west of Kyiv, including Makariv,[229] being retaken.[230] As part of a general retreat of Russian forces north of Kyiv, as well as attacks on Russian formations 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.[231] Ukraine claimed to have recaptured the entire region around Kyiv, including Irpin, Bucha, and Hostomel, by 2 April, with evidence of war crimes being uncovered in Bucha.[232] 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.[204]

Following the commencement of the second phase of the invasion, Kyiv was left generally free of 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.[233]

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.[234][235] 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.[236] Okhtyrka also came under attack, where Russian forces were spotted deploying thermobaric weapons.[237]

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".[195] 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.[196][195] The Pentagon confirmed on 6 April that the Russian army had left Chernihiv Oblast, while Sumy Oblast remained contested.[238] 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.[239]

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.[240] 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.[237][241] En route to Mariupol, Russian forces entered Berdiansk before capturing it the following day.[242] On 1 March, Russian forces started preparing to resume their attack on Melitopol and other nearby cities, initiating a battle.[243] Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, later announced that Russian forces had occupied the city.[244] On the morning of 25 February, Russian units from the DPR advanced towards Mariupol and encountered Ukrainian forces near the village of Pavlopil, where they were defeated.[245][246][247] By the evening, the Russian Navy reportedly began an amphibious assault on the coastlines 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.[248][249][250]

Another group Russian forces advanced north from Crimea, with the Russian 22nd Army Corps approaching the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on 26 February.[251][252] On 28 February, they began a siege at Enerhodar in an attempt to take control of the nuclear power plant.[253] A fire was started at the plant during the battle.[254] The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) subsequently clarified that essential equipment had not been damaged.[255] By 4 March, the nuclear power plant fell under Russian control. Despite reports of fires, the power plant recorded no radiation leaks.[256] A third Russian attack group from Crimea moved northwest, where they captured bridges over the Dnieper.[257] On 2 March, Russian troops won a battle at Kherson and captured the city, becoming the first major Ukrainian city to be captured by Russian forces during the invasion.[258] Russian troops then advanced to Mykolaiv and attacked the city two days later, but were later repelled by Ukrainian forces.[259] Also on 2 March, Ukrainian forces initiated a counteroffensive on Horlivka,[260] which had been mainly controlled by the DPR since 2014.[261] Following a renewed missile attack on 14 March in Mariupol, the Ukrainian government claimed more than 2,500 deaths in the city.[262]

By 18 March, Mariupol was completely encircled and fighting reached the city centre, hampering civilian evacuation efforts.[263] On 20 March, an art school in the city, which was sheltering around 400 people, was destroyed by a Russian bombing.[264] 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 as part of the second phase of the invasion.[265] 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.[266] 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".[267] In a telephone conversation between Putin and 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.[268]

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.[269] On 3 April, following the retraction of Russian forces from Kyiv at the end of phase one of the military invasion, Russia began to expand their attack on Southern Ukraine further west with increased bombardment and strikes against Odesa, Mykolaiv, and the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.[270][271]

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.[272][273] During the fighting, Russian tanks were met with strong Ukrainian resistance. On 25 February, the Millerovo air base was attacked by Ukrainian military forces using OTR-21 Tochka missiles. According to Ukrainian officials, this destroyed several Russian Air Force planes and set the airbase on fire.[197][198] On 28 February, Kharkiv was targeted by missile attacks which killed several people.[274] On 1 March, Denis Pushilin, the head of the DPR, announced that DPR forces had almost completely surrounded the city of Volnovakha.[275] On 2 March, Russian forces were repelled from Sievierodonetsk during an attack against the city.[276] On 17 March, Izium was reportedly captured by Russian forces,[277] although fighting continued.[278]

On 25 March, the Russian defence ministry stated that Russia was prepared to enter the second phase of military operations in seeking to occupy major Ukrainian cities in Eastern Ukraine.[279] On 31 March, the Ukrainian military confirmed Izium was under Russian control.[280][281] On 31 March, PBS News reported that Kharkiv had been attacked by renewed shelling and missile attacks, at levels equalling or exceeding previous levels of shelling, on the day on which peace talks were to resume with Russia in Istanbul.[282]

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.[283] Ukraine, however, denied responsibility for the attack.[284] 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 all remaining residents living near the eastern border of Ukraine to evacuate to the western parts of Ukraine within the next 2–3 days in the absence of the timely arrival of arms and munitions previously promised to Ukraine by this time.[285]

First phase — 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.[286][287] 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.[288]

Second phase: Southeastern offensive (8 April to present)

On 8 April, the Russian ministry had announced that all its troops and divisions deployed in southeastern Ukraine would be united under the command and control of General 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 ultimatums from surrounding Russian troops.[46] 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.[47] According to the UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, President Putin is considering a mass mobilisation of Russian citizens to replace losses suffered in Ukraine on 9 May.[289] As of 30 April, an NATO official has described Russian advances as “uneven” and “minor”.[290]

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 people[291] and injuring 87 to 300 people.[292] On 11 April, Zelenskyy announced that Ukraine was expecting a major new Russian offensive in the east.[293] American officials said that Russia had withdrawn or been repulsed elsewhere in Ukraine, and therefore was preparing a subsequent phase to its military operations by focusing on the east, due to the retraction, resupply, and redeployment of infantry and tank divisions to the Southeastern Ukraine front.[294][295] Military satellites photographed extensive Russian convoys of infantry and mechanised units deploying south from Kharkiv to Izium on 11 April as an apparent part of the planned Russian redeployment of its Northeastern troops to the Southeastern front of the invasion.[296]

On 14 April, it was reported that Ukrainian troops had detonated a bridge between Kharkiv and Izium being used by Russian forces to redeploy troops to Izium, destroying the bridge and impeding the progress of the Russian convoy.[297] On 18 April, with Mariupol almost entirely overtaken by Russian occupation forces, the Ukrainian government announced that the second phase of the reinforced invasion of the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions had intensified with increased and expanded invasion forces by the Russians to continue further occupation of the Donbas oblast and its other major cities.[298]

Second phase — Mykolaiv–Odessa front

General missile attacks and bombardment of the key cities of Mykolaiv and Odessa continued at the start of the second phase of the invasion.[47] 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.[299][300] 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".[299] 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.[301] On 24 April, Russia resumed its missile strikes on Odessa destroying military facilities and causing two dozen civilian casualties.[302]

On 27 April, Ukrainian sources indicated that two Russian broadcast towers were destroyed by explosions in Transnistria which were used primarily to rebroadcast Russian television programming.[303]

Second phase — Dnipro–Zaporizhzhia front

General missile attacks and bombardment of the key cities of Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia continued at the start of the second phase of the invasion.[47] On 10 April, the Dnipro International Airport was destroyed during a missile attack.[304][305]

Second phase — Siege of Mariupol

On 13 April, Russian forces intensified their attack on the abandoned steel factory at the Azovstal iron and steel works in Mariupol, which was being used by residual Ukrainian defences in the city.[306] By 17 April, Russian forces had surrounded the steel factory where final Ukrainian forces had been operating, with the Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal stating that the Ukrainian soldiers had vowed to ignore the renewed ultimatum to surrender and to fight to the last soul.[307]On 20 April, Putin said that the Siege of Mariupol could be considered as tactically completed with approximately 500 Ukrainian troops entrenched in bunker defences within the Azovstal iron works factory with an estimated one thousand Ukrainian citizens completely sealed off from any type of relief in their siege.[308]

Following meetings with Putin and Zelenskyy on consecutive days, on 28 April UN secretary Guterres stated that he would attempt to organize an emergency evacuation of survivors entrenched in the Mariupol Azovstal iron works in accordance with assurances he had personally received from Putin on his visit to the Kremlin.[309]

Air warfare

On 24 February, Russian forces attacked the Chuhuiv air base,[310] which housed Bayraktar TB2 drones. The attack caused damage to fuel storage areas and infrastructure.[311] The next day, the Millerovo air base was attacked by Ukrainian forces.[197][198] In the Zhytomyr Airport attack on 27 February, it was reported that Russia used 9K720 Iskander missile systems, located in Belarus, to attack the civilian Zhytomyr Airport.[312][313] Many Ukrainian air defence facilities were destroyed fully or partially in the first days of the invasion by Russian air strikes.[314]

Russia lost at least ten aircraft on 5 March.[315] On 6 March, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that 88 Russian aircraft had been destroyed since the war began.[316] 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.[317] 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.[318] In contrast, according to the United States, 49 Ukrainian fighter aircraft were lost by 18 March.[319]

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.[320][321] The poor performance of the Russian Air Force has been attributed by The Economist to Russia's inability to suppress Ukraine's medium ranged surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries, Russia's lack of precision-guided bombs, together with Ukrainian mid-range SAM sites that 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 rendering them inexperienced for the type of close ground support missions typical of modern air forces.[322]

Naval warfare

Russian Black Sea flagship Moskva was reportedly sunk by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles on 14 April 2022

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 as having 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.[323][324][325] On 24 February, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine announced that an attack on Snake Island by Russian Navy ships had begun.[326] The guided missile cruiser Moskva and patrol boat Vasily Bykov bombarded the island with their deck guns.[327] 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!"[328][329] After the bombardment, a detachment of Russian soldiers landed and took control of Snake Island.[330]

Russia stated on 26 February that US drones were supplying intelligence to the Ukrainian navy to help target Russian warships in the Black Sea, which the US denied.[331] 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.[332][333][334][335] 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.[336] 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.[337][230][242]

On 13 April, the Russian cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, was, according to Ukrainian sources and a US senior official,[338] hit 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 that its entire crew had been evacuated.[339] 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.[340] Later on the same day, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that Moskva had sunk while under tow in rough weather.[341] 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.[342]

Potential Russian use of low-yield nuclear weapons

On 14 April, The New York Times reported that William Burns of the CIA indicated in a public announcement that the threat of the use of low-yield nuclear weapons was within the weapons capacity of Russia invading Ukraine 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."[343] The use of low-yield tactical nuclear capacity was originally discussed in the decade following the end of WWII by Henry Kissinger who described it as a tactical weapon separable from the use of other atomic weapons in warfare.[344] On 22 April, it was reported that Russia was continuing to test 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.[345] 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 WW3 scenario involving Russia's full arsenal of weapons.[346] 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".[347]

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."[348] In apparent response to Germany deploying armed tanks to Ukraine, 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.[349][350] 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 the Ukraine.[351]

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,[352] and helping to transport refugees.[353] 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.[354] 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.[355]

In some instances, people physically blocked Russian military vehicles, sometimes forcing them to retreat.[354][356][357] The Russian soldiers' response to unarmed civilian resistance varied from reluctance to engage the protesters[354] to firing into the air or directly into crowds.[358] 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.[359] 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.[360]

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.[361] Lethal military support was limited, with the US beginning to sell weapons including Javelin anti-tank missiles starting in 2018,[361] and Ukraine agreeing to purchase TB2 combat drones from Turkey in 2019.[362] As Russia began building up equipment and troops on Ukraine's borders, in January 2022, the US started working with other NATO member states to transfer their US-produced weapons to Ukraine.[363] The UK also began supplying NLAW and Javelin anti-tank weapons.[364] Following the invasion, NATO member states, including Germany, agreed to supply weapons, but NATO as an organisation did not.[51][365][366] NATO and its member states also refused to send troops into Ukraine, or to establish a no fly-zone, as this would risk a larger-scale war,[367][368] a decision which some experts have labelled as a policy of appeasement.[369][370]

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.[371][372] 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.[373][374][375] During the first week of the invasion, NATO member states supplied more than 17,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine;[376] by mid-March, the number was estimated to be more than 20,000.[377]

In three tranches agreed in February, March and April 2022, the European Union has committed to 1.5 billion intended 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.[378] EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell stated that the EU intended to supply Ukraine with fighter jets. Bulgaria, Poland, and Slovakia had MiG-29s, and Slovakia also had Su-25s, aircraft which Ukraine already flew and which could be transferred without pilot training.[379] However, the planes' owners were reluctant to donate weapons critical for their own territorial defences, and feared that Russia could view it as an act of war if jets fly from their air bases to fight over Ukraine.[380][381]

As of 11 April, Ukraine was provided with approximately 25,000 anti-air and 60,000 anti-tank weapon systems by the US and its allies.[382] The following day, it was reported that Russia had been provided anti-tank missiles and RPGs by Iran, supplied through undercover networks via Iraq.[383]

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.[384] 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.[385][386]

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.[387][388] 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.[389][390] Redeployment of troops from the base started on 16 March.[391][392]

Although NATO and the EU have taken a strict policy of 'no boots on the ground' in support against the Russian invasion of Ukraine,[393] 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".[394] Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that as of 6 March, approximately 20,000 foreign nationals from 52 countries have volunteered to fight.[395] Most of these volunteers joined the newly created International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine.[395]

On 3 March, Russian Defense 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.[396] 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.[397] A video uploaded online showed armed Central African paramilitaries calling to arms to fight in Ukraine with Russian troops.[398]

Over 66,200 Ukrainian men have returned to Ukraine from abroad to fight.[399]

Casualties and humanitarian impact

Casualties

Breakdown Casualties Time period Source
Civilians 9,487–24,487+ killed (est.)[d]
3,818 killed, 4,000+ wounded (conf.)
24 February – 28 April 2022
24 February – 24 April 2022
Ukrainian government[400]
2,899+ killed, 3,235+ wounded 24 February – 28 April 2022 United Nations[401]
Ukrainian forces
(UAF, NGU)
2,500–3,000 killed, 10,000 wounded 24 February – 15 April 2022 Ukrainian government[402]
2,000–4,000 killed 24 February – 9 March 2022 US estimate[403]
23,367 killed 24 February – 16 April 2022 Russian government[404]
Russian Armed Forces 1,351 killed, 3,825 wounded 24 February – 25 March 2022 Russian government[405]
1,744 killed[e] 24 February – 22 April 2022 Meduza news website[407]
1,899 killed[f] 24 February – 29 April 2022 BBC News Russian[409]
Donetsk PR forces 1,523 killed, 6,167 wounded 26 February – 28 April 2022 Donetsk PR[g]
Luhansk PR forces 500–600 killed 24 February – 5 April 2022 Russian government[h]
Russian and allied forces
(RAF, Rosgvardiya,
PMC Wagner, DPR & LPR)
10,000+ killed 24 February – 30 March 2022 US estimate[414]
15,000 killed 24 February – 25 April 2022 UK estimate[415]
23,200 losses[i] 24 February – 30 April 2022 Ukrainian government[416]

With respect to Russian military losses, Ukrainian estimates tended to be high, while Russian estimates of their own losses were much lower. Combat deaths can be inferred from a variety of sources, including satellite imagery and video image of military actions.[422] The West has generally accepted Ukrainian figures, but these may have been inflated to emphasise the toll on the Russian military for the sake of morale, while Russia was downplaying its losses, with Russian news outlets largely stopping reporting of the Russian death toll.[423][424][425] Ukraine was also quieter about its own military fatalities.[423][426] Russia and Ukraine admitted to suffering "significant" and "considerable" losses, respectively.[425][426] According to BBC News, Ukrainian claims of Russian fatalities were including the injured as well.[418][419] 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.[427]

The number of civilian and military deaths is impossible to determine with precision given the fog of war.[428][422] 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.[429]

Prisoners of war

Over a thousand prisoners of war have been captured. In the initial stages of the invasion, on 24 February, Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the US, stated 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.[430] Russia claimed to have captured 572 Ukrainian soldiers by 2 March 2022,[431] while Ukraine claimed 562 Russian soldiers were being held as prisoners as of 20 March,[432] with 10 previously reported released in prisoner exchanges for five Ukrainian soldiers and the mayor of Melitopol.[433][434] 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.[435][436] On 1 April 86 Ukrainian servicemen were exchanged[437] for an unknown number of Russian troops.[438]

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.[439]

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.[440][441] 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.[442][443][444] 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.[445][446]

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.[447]

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;[448][449] the UN has described it as the fastest growing such crisis since World War II.[450] Because of the continued military build-up in Russia along the Ukrainian border, many neighbouring governments and aid organisations had been preparing 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.[451]

In the first week of the invasion, the UN reported over a million refugees had fled Ukraine; this subsequently rose to over 5.2 million by 22 April.[18][16] Most refugees were women, children, the elderly, or people with disabilities.[452][453][454] As of 16 March, another 6.5 million people were displaced inside Ukraine.[455] By 20 March, a total of ten million Ukrainians had fled their homes, making it the fastest growing refugee crisis in the contemporary era.[456] Most male Ukrainian nationals aged 18 to 60 were denied exit from Ukraine as part of mandatory conscription,[457] except if they were responsible for the financial support of three or more children, single fathers, or were the parent/guardian of children with disabilities.[458] Many Ukrainian men, including teenagers, in any case opted to remain in Ukraine to join the resistance.[459]

According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, as of 19 April, there were 2,825,463 refugees in Poland, 757,047 in Romania, 471,080 in Hungary, 426,964 in Moldova, 342,813 in Slovakia, and 23,759 in Belarus, while Russia reported it had received over 549,805 refugees.[460] As of 17 March, over 270,000 refugees had arrived in the Czech Republic.[461] Turkey has been another significant destination, registering more than 58,000 Ukrainian refugees as of 22 March.[462][463] 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.[464]

Ukraine has accused Russia of forcibly relocating civilians, to 'filtration centers' in Russian held territory and onwards to Russia, which Ukrainian sources compared to Soviet era population transfers and prior Russian actions in the Chechen War of Independence.[465][466] As of 8 April, Russia claimed to have evacuated approximately 121,000 Mariupol residents to Russia.[466] RIA Novosti and Ukrainian officials stated that thousands were dispatched to various filtration centers in both Russian and Russian-occupied Ukrainian cities,[467] from which people were redirected to economically depressed regions of Russia.[468] According to Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov, Russia also plans to build concentration camps for Ukrainians in Western Siberia, whose prisoners will be forcibly involved in the construction of new cities.[469][470][j]

A second refugee crisis created by the invasion and by the Russian government's suppression of human rights has been the flight of approximately 300,000 Russian political refugees and economic migrants, the largest exodus from Russia since the October Revolution of 1917,[472][473] to countries such as the Baltic states, Finland, Georgia, Turkey, and Central Asia.[474][475] By 22 March, it was estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 high tech workers had left the country, with a further 70,000 to 100,000 possibly to follow. Fears arose over the impact of this brain-drain flight of talent on future Russian economic development.[476] Some joined the Russian resistance to the Putin regime and sought to help Ukraine,[477] and some faced discrimination for being Russian.[478][479]

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". During the 2020/21 international wheat marketing season (July–June), it ranked as the sixth largest wheat exporter, accounting for nine per cent of world wheat trade.[480] The country is also a major global exporter of maize, barley and rapeseed. In 2020/21, it accounted for 12 per cent of global trade in maize and barley and for 14 per cent of world rapeseed exports. Its trade share is even greater in the sunflower oil sector, with the country accounting for about 50 per cent of world exports in 2020/2021.[480]

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), further to causing the loss of lives and increasing humanitarian needs, the likely disruptions caused by the Russian invasion to Ukraine's grain and oilseed sectors, combined with 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, especially those that are highly dependent on Ukraine and the Russian Federation for their food and fertiliser imports.[481] 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).[482][483] 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.[480]

A Russian attack damaged the Kozarovychi Dam [uk], which regulates flow from the Kyiv Reservoir, causing flooding along the Irpin River.[360] A Russian missile attack on Kyiv Dam on the Dnieper River was blocked by Ukrainian defenses. A breach could have triggered flooding of parts of Kyiv, damaged downstream dams, and threatened the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.[484] Russian forces blew up the dam on the North Crimean Canal which Ukraine had erected to block water flow to agricultural lands in Crimea which Russia had seized in 2014.[484] Russians cut civilian water service as part of the Siege of Mariupol.[484]

Legal implications

Legality

The invasion of Ukraine violated the Charter of the United Nations and constituted a crime of aggression according to international criminal law, raising the possibility of prosecution under universal jurisdiction.[485][486][487] The invasion violated the Rome Statute, which prohibits "the invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State, or any military occupation, however temporary, resulting from such invasion or attack, or any annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof". Ukraine did not ratify the Rome Statute and Russia withdrew its signature in 2016.[488]

Human rights violations

International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine

On 4 March 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted 32–2, with 13 abstentions, to create the International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, an independent international committee of three human rights experts with a mandate to investigate alleged violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law in the context of the invasion.[489][490]

War crimes and crimes against humanity

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

Russian authorities have been accused of waging war, and committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, in violation of international law. The Russian military carried out indiscriminate attacks on densely populated areas and exposed the civilian population to unnecessary and disproportionate harm.[491][492][493] The Russian forces used cluster munitions – a type of weapon that is prohibited by most states because of its immediate and long-term danger to civilians[494][495][496] – and fired other explosive weapons with wide-area effects including air-dropped bombs, missiles, heavy artillery shells and multiple launch rockets.[495] Ukrainian forces also fired cluster munition rockets on at least one occasion.[497] The result of the Russian forces' attacks was damage or destruction of civilian buildings including houses, hospitals, schools and kindergartens[495] as well as nuclear power plants,[498] and cultural crimes against 191 cultural properties such as historic buildings and churches.[499][500] As of 25 March, the attacks had resulted in at least 1,035 civilian deaths and at least 1,650 civilian injuries.[493][495]

There were allegations of forced deportations of thousands of civilians from Russian-occupied Mariupol to Russia,[501] sexual assaults[502] and the deliberate killing of Ukrainian civilians by members of the Russian forces.[503] At the end of March, Ukrainian forces recaptured the town of Bucha, located north of Kyiv. Afterwards, evidence emerged of war crimes committed by Russian troops, including torture and deliberate killings of civilians, including children.[504][505][506] The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine documented in the first month of the invasion the arbitrary detention in Russian-occupied territories of 21 journalists and civil society activists, and 24 public officials and civil servants.[507][495][508] The Monitoring Mission 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 members of the territorial defence.[495][444]

On 2 March, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a full investigation into past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide committed in Ukraine by any person from 21 November 2013 onwards, set up an online method for people with evidence to initiate contact with investigators, and sent a team of investigators, lawyers and other professionals to Ukraine to begin collecting evidence.[509][510] Neither Ukraine nor Russia are parties to the Rome Statute, the legal basis of the ICC, but Ukraine has accepted the ICC's jurisdiction by signing in 2013 and 2014 two declarations to that effect.[511] Two other independent international agencies are also investigating violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law in the area: the International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, established by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 4 March 2022, and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, deployed by OHCHR. The latter started monitoring human rights violations by all parties in 2014 and employs nearly 60 UN human rights monitors. In late March, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova stated that the Ukrainian prosecutors had collected evidence for 2,500 "possible war crimes cases" and "several hundred suspects".[512] On 7 April, Russia was suspended from the UN Human Rights Council.[513]

Legal proceedings

International Criminal Court

On 27 February, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the Okhtyrka kindergarten bombing.[514] On 28 February, Karim Ahmad Khan, the prosecutor of the ICC, said he planned to investigate allegations of war crimes in Ukraine "as rapidly as possible" following the ICC's preliminary examination of the case. Thirty-nine states officially referred the situation in Ukraine to the ICC. On 3 March, Khan announced that evidence was being collected of alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed by individuals of all sides during the invasion, and that a full investigation would be opened.[515] Russia is not party to the ICC's Rome Statute, or founding treaty, and therefore does not recognise its authority.[516]

International Court of Justice

Ukraine filed a lawsuit against Russia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Russia of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention (to which both Ukraine and Russia are parties) by falsely claiming genocide as a pretext for invading Ukraine.[517] The International Association of Genocide Scholars supported Ukraine's request. Ukraine asked the ICJ to adopt provisional measures, an order directing Russia to halt its offensive in Ukraine. The ICJ granted Ukraine's request to expedite the proceedings.[518] Russian representatives refused to appear at a court hearing at the Peace Palace in The Hague.[519] On 16 March, the ICJ ordered Russia, as a provisional measure, to "immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine". The decision was taken after a 13–2 vote, with the Russian and Chinese judges in opposition.[520][521] It is binding on Russia, but the ICJ has no means to enforce it.[522]

Universal jurisdiction

Domestic investigations of potential war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine were opened, under the principle of universal jurisdiction, in countries including Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.[523][524][525][526]

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.[527]

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.[528] On 5 March, Russia declared a five-and-a-half-hour ceasefire in Mariupol and Volnovakha, to open humanitarian corridors for civilians to evacuate.[529][530] Ukraine blamed Russian forces for repeatedly breaking the ceasefire by shelling the two cities;[531][532] the Russian defence ministry stated the firing came from inside both cities against Russian positions.[532] The International Committee of the Red Cross declared that the effort to evacuate civilians had failed.[533]

On 7 March, as a condition for ending the invasion, the Kremlin demanded Ukraine's neutrality,[534] 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.[535] The same day, Russia declared a temporary ceasefire in Kyiv, Sumy, and two other cities, starting from 10:30 Moscow Time (UTC+3).[536] On 8 March, Zelenskyy suggested a direct meeting with Putin to end the invasion and expressed willingness to discuss Putin's demands.[537] Zelenskyy said he was ready for dialogue, but "not for capitulation".[538] 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.[539] Zelenskyy's Servant of the People party said that Ukraine would not give up Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk.[540] However, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was considering giving the Russian language protected minority status.[541]

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.[542] On 15 March, during the fourth round of talks, Zelenskyy suggested that Ukraine would accept not pursuing membership of NATO.[543] 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.[544] 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.[545]

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".[546] 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.[547]

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.[548] 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.[549] 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.[550]

On 28 March, Zelenskyy confirmed that a renewal of peace talk negotiations with Russia would start in Istanbul on 29 March, with the intention of discussing Ukrainian neutrality towards Russia along with the repudiation of any claims for Ukrainian NATO membership in the future.[551] 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.[547][552]

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

On 11 April, the 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.[553] By 26 April, the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres visited Russia for the prupose of speaking with Putin and Lavrov in separate meetings, and after the meetings with them indicating skepticism as to any short term resolution of differences between Russia and Ukraine largely due to very different respective perspectives on the circumstances of the invasion presently being adopted by each of the two nations.[554]

Media depictions

Online activists, journalists, politicians, and the general population have shared real-time information about the invasion, from both in and out of Ukraine.[555] Authentic first-hand portrayals have however been accompanied by depictions of earlier events or other misinformation, some of it deliberate.[556][557][558] While a large portion of these misleading videos and images posted to social media are identified as false content and labeled as such, other sites have not done so.[559]

Russian state-controlled media systematically downplays both civilian and military losses, denouncing reports of attacks on civilians as "fake" or blaming Ukrainian forces.[560]

Putin introduced prison sentences of up to 15 years for "fake news" about Russian military operations,[561] and fines or up to three years prison for calling for sanctions,[562][563][564] prompting most Russian outlets to stop reporting on Ukraine. Russian censor Roskomnadzor ordered media to only use information from Russian state sources,[565] and to describe the war as a "special military operation".[566] New stories that described an "assault", "invasion" or "declaration of war" were removed.[567][568][569] Roskomnadzor also partially restricted access to Facebook on 25 February,[570] after Facebook refused to stop fact-checking posts by the state-owned Zvezda, RIA Novosti, Lenta.ru, and Gazeta.Ru.[571]

On 3 March, Echo of Moscow's board of directors voted to close down.[572] On 4 March, Roskomnadzor blocked access to several foreign media outlets, including BBC News Russian, Voice of America, RFE/RL, Deutsche Welle, and Meduza, as well as to Facebook and Twitter.[573][574][575]

Putin and Konstantin Ernst, chief of Russia's main state-controlled TV station Channel One.[576]

In Russia, pro-Kremlin television pundits like Vladimir Solovyov and state-controlled television channels such as Russia-24,[577] Russia-1,[578] and Channel One[579] mostly follow the government narrative on the war.[580][581][582]

Ukrainian propaganda focuses on raising awareness of the war and Ukraine's need for support and weapons.[583] Official Ukrainian social media accounts have targeted posts and videos to recruit soldiers and call for international aid.[584]

State-controlled media in China have seen an opportunity for anti-American propaganda,[585] and along with Cuban state media,[586] have amplified Russian false claims of "secret US biolabs".[587] State-controlled outlets in Serbia[588] and Iran[589][590] have repeated Russian propaganda, as has RT Actualidad in Latin America.[591] Pundits on Turkish pro-government media have blamed NATO and the US for the war.[592] Fidesz-controlled media outlets in Hungary have claimed that Ukraine provoked the war by becoming “a military base for America”.[593] Vietnam has told reporters not to say "invasion", and to minimise coverage.[594] South Africa's governing African National Congress endorsed the denazification narrative.[595][594] Pro-Russian propaganda has also been spread by some Indonesian social media users and academics.[596][597]

Sanctions and ramifications

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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 the independence of Donbas. With the commencement of attacks on 24 February, a large number of other countries began applying sanctions with the aim of crippling the Russian economy.[598] The sanctions were wide-ranging, targeting individuals, banks, businesses, monetary exchanges, bank transfers, exports, and imports.[599][600][601] The sanctions included cutting off major Russian banks from SWIFT, the global messaging network for international payments, although there would still be limited accessibility to ensure the continued ability to pay for gas shipments.[602] Sanctions also included asset freezes on the Russian Central Bank, which holds $630 billion in foreign-exchange reserves,[603] to prevent it from offsetting the impact of sanctions[604][605][606] and implicated the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.[607] By 1 March, the total amount of Russian assets being frozen by sanctions amounted to $1 trillion.[608]

Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, warned that the conflict posed a substantial economic risk for the region and internationally. She added that the Fund could help other countries impacted by the conflict, complementary to a $2.2 billion loan package being prepared to assist Ukraine. David Malpass, the president of the World Bank Group, said that the conflict would have far-reaching economic and social effects, and reported that the bank was preparing options for significant economic and fiscal support to Ukrainians and the region.[609] Economic sanctions affected Russia from the first day of the invasion, with the stock market falling by up to 39% (RTS Index). The Russian ruble fell to record lows, as Russians rushed to exchange currency.[610][611][612] Stock exchanges in Moscow and Saint Petersburg were suspended until at least 18 March,[613] making it the longest closure in Russia's history.[614] 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.[615] On 11 April, S&P Global placed Russia under "selective default" on its foreign debt for insisting on payments in rubles.[616]

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 per day and prohibited withdrawal in foreign currencies by members of the general public. The PFTS Ukraine Stock Exchange stated on 24 February that trading was suspended due to the emergency events.[617]

On 24 March, Joe Biden's administration issued an executive order, which barred the Russian gold reserves from sales in the international market.[618][619] For Russia, gold has been one of the major avenues to protect its economy from the impact of multiple sanctions which had been imposed since the 2014 annexation of Crimea. To this end, it had been building its foothold in Africa, targeting its countries' gold operations. It also acquired exclusive gold rights in Sudan, after deploying the Wagner Group to shield the government of Omar al-Bashir. A report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) suggested that Russia may use its influence in Africa to evade sanctions and exploit the illicit gold markets, in particular those in the UAE.[620][621]

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.[50] 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,[622] a SWIFT ban on certain Russian banks, and a ban on certain Russian media outlets.[623] Non-government reactions to the invasion included widespread boycotts of Russia and Belarus in the areas of entertainment, media, business, and sport.[624]

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.[625] 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.[626] 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.[627][628] Human rights organisations and reporters raised concerns of police brutality during the arrests and OVD-Info reported several cases of protestors being tortured under detention. 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.[629]

In some parts of Ukraine that were newly occupied by Russian armed forces, protests against the occupiers took place.[630][631][632] In China,[633] India,[634][635] Indonesia,[636] Malaysia[637] and the Arab regions, many social media users showed sympathy for Russian narratives due in part to distrust of US foreign policy.[638]

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[10] and Transnistrian city of Kolbasna[11][12]
  4. ^ See table here for a detailed breakdown of civilian deaths by oblast, according to Ukrainian authorities
  5. ^ Besides servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces, figure includes more than 70 Rosgvardiya members and one FSB member.[406]
  6. ^ Besides servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces, figure includes Rosgvardiya members.[408]
  7. ^ The DPR stated 1,536 of its servicemen were killed and 6,217 wounded between 1 January and 28 April 2022,[410] of which 13 died and 50 were wounded between 1 January and 25 February 2022,[411] leaving a total of 1,523 killed and 6,167 wounded in the period of the Russian invasion.
  8. ^ Russia stated 1,500 DPR and LPR servicemen were killed 24 Feb.–5 April 2022.[412] Taking into account that officially confirmed DPR losses were 979 killed 26 Feb.–7 April 2022,[413][411] 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".[416][417] According to the BBC, these figures include wounded soldiers,[418][419] while others interpret the figures to be referring to only those killed.[420][421]
  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.[471]

References

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  3. ^ "respublika abkhaziya i luganskaya narodnaya respublika ustanovili diplomaticheskie otnosheniya" АБХАЗИЯ И ЛУГАНСКАЯ НАРОДНАЯ РЕСПУБЛИКА УСТАНОВИЛИ ДИПЛОМАТИЧЕСКИЕ ОТНОШЕНИЯ (in Russian). 10 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
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