On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014. The invasion has likely resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides and caused Europe's largest refugee crisis since World War II, with around 7.5 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. Russia experienced its greatest emigration since the 1917 October Revolution. The invasion has also caused global food shortages.
|2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine|
|Part of the Russo-Ukrainian War|
Military situation as of 3 October 2022
Controlled by Ukraine
Controlled by Russia
For a more detailed map, see the Russo-Ukrainian War detailed map
|Commanders and leaders|
|Order of battle||Order of battle|
Strength estimates are as of the start of the invasion.|
|Casualties and losses|
Reports vary widely.|
See Casualties for details.
Following the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, Russia annexed Crimea, and Russian-backed paramilitaries seized part of the Donbas region of south-eastern Ukraine, which consists of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, sparking a regional war. In March 2021, Russia began a large military build-up along its border with Ukraine, amassing up to 190,000 troops and their equipment. Despite the build-up, denials of plans to invade or attack Ukraine were issued by various Russian government officials up to the day before the invasion. On 21 February 2022, Russia recognised the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, two self-proclaimed breakaway quasi-states in the Donbas. The next day, the Federation Council of Russia authorised the use of military force and Russian troops entered both territories.
The invasion began on the morning of 24 February, when Russian president Vladimir Putin announced in his public address a "special military operation" for the "demilitarisation and denazification" of Ukraine. In his address, Putin espoused irredentist views, challenged Ukraine's right to statehood, and falsely claimed Ukraine was governed by neo-Nazis who persecuted the ethnic Russian minority. Minutes later, missiles and airstrikes hit across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, followed by a large ground invasion from multiple directions. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy enacted martial law and a general mobilisation. Russian attacks were initially launched on a northern front from Belarus towards Kyiv, a north-eastern front towards Kharkiv, a southern front from Crimea, and a south-eastern front from Luhansk and Donetsk. Russia's advance towards Kyiv stalled in March, with Russian troops retreating from the northern front by April. On the southern and south-eastern fronts, Russia captured Kherson in March and then Mariupol in May after a siege. On 19 April, Russia launched a renewed attack on the Donbas region, with Luhansk Oblast fully captured by 3 July. Russian forces continued to bomb both military and civilian targets far from the frontline. Ukrainian forces launched counteroffensives in the south in August, and in the northeast in September. Soon after, Russia annexed the four partially occupied Ukrainian oblasts of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
The invasion has received widespread international condemnation. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the invasion and demanding 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 sanctions on Russia, as well as on its ally Belarus, which have affected the economies of Russia and the world, and provided humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. Protests occurred around the world; those in Russia were met with mass arrests and increased media censorship, including a ban on the words "war" and "invasion". Over 1,000 companies have pulled out of Russia and Belarus in response to the invasion. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into crimes against humanity in Ukraine since 2013, including war crimes in the 2022 invasion.
After the Soviet Union (USSR) dissolved in 1991, the newly independent republics of Ukraine and Russia maintained ties. Ukraine agreed in 1994 to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and dismantle the nuclear weapons in Ukraine left by the USSR. In return, Russia, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US) agreed in the Budapest Memorandum to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine. In 1999, Russia signed the Charter for European Security, which "reaffirmed the inherent right of each and every participating state to be free to choose or change its security arrangements, including treaties of alliance". After the Soviet Union collapsed, several former Eastern Bloc countries joined NATO, partly due 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 claimed Western powers pledged that NATO would not expand eastward, although this is disputed.
Following the Euromaidan protests and the Revolution of Dignity which resulted in the removal of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, pro-Russian unrest erupted in eastern and southern parts of Ukraine. Russian soldiers without insignia took control of strategic positions and infrastructure in the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and seized the Crimean Parliament. Russia organised a controversial referendum, whose outcome was for Crimea to join Russia. Russia's annexation of Crimea followed in March 2014, then the war in Donbas, which began in April 2014 with the formation of two Russia-backed separatist quasi-states: the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic. Russian troops were involved in the conflict. The Minsk agreements signed in September 2014 and February 2015 were a bid to stop the fighting, but ceasefires repeatedly failed.
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. In 2021, Putin refused offers from Zelenskyy to hold 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. The annexation of Crimea led to a new wave of Russian nationalism, with much of the Russian neo-imperial movement aspiring to annex more Ukrainian land, including the unrecognised Novorossiya. Analyst Vladimir Socor argued that Putin's 2014 speech after the annexation of Crimea was a de facto "manifesto of Greater-Russia Irredentism". In July 2021, Putin published an essay titled "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians", reaffirming that Russians and Ukrainians were "one people". American historian Timothy Snyder described Putin's ideas as imperialism. British journalist Edward Lucas described it as historical revisionism. Other observers have noted that the Russian leadership has a distorted view of modern Ukraine and its history.
Russian military buildup (March 2021 – February 2022)
In March and April 2021, Russia began a major military build-up near the Russo-Ukrainian border. A second build-up followed from October 2021 to February 2022, in both Russia and Belarus. Members of the Russian government repeatedly denied having plans to invade or attack Ukraine; including government spokesman Dmitry Peskov on 28 November 2021, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on 19 January 2022, Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov on 20 February 2022, and Russian ambassador to the Czech Republic Alexander Zmeevsky on 23 February 2022.
Putin's chief national security adviser, Nikolai Patrushev, believed that the West had been in an undeclared war with Russia for years. Russia's updated national security strategy, published in May 2021, said that Russia may use "forceful methods" to "thwart or avert unfriendly actions that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation". Sources say the decision to invade Ukraine was made by Putin and a small group of war hawks in Putin's inner circle, including Patrushev and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
When in early December 2021 Russia denied plans to invade, the US released intelligence, including satellite photographs of Russian troops and equipment near the Russo-Ukrainian border, that indicated otherwise, and continued to accurately predict invasion events. The intelligence also said that the Russians had a list of key sites, and of individuals to be killed or neutralised in the invasion.
Russian accusations and demands
In the months preceding the invasion, Russian officials accused Ukraine of Russophobia, inciting tensions, and repressing Russian speakers in Ukraine. They also made multiple security demands of Ukraine, NATO, and non-NATO allies in the EU. Commentators and Western officials described these as attempts to justify war. "Russophobia is a first step towards genocide", Putin said on 9 December 2021. Putin's claims about "de-Nazification" have been described as absurd, and Russian claims of genocide were widely rejected as baseless. Scholars of genocide and Nazism said that Putin's claims were "factually wrong", and that they actually contribute to incitement to genocide of Ukrainians by accusation in a mirror.
Putin challenged the legitimacy of the Ukrainian state and claimed that "Ukraine never had a tradition of genuine statehood", incorrectly described it as created by Soviet Russia, and falsely said Ukrainian society and government were dominated by neo-Nazism.
Ukraine, like pro-Russian separatists in Donbas, has a far-right fringe, including the neo-Nazi-linked Azov Battalion and Right Sector, but experts have described Putin's rhetoric as greatly exaggerating the influence of far-right groups within Ukraine; there is no widespread support for the ideology in the government, military, or electorate. Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, rebuked Putin's allegations, noting that his grandfather served in the Soviet army fighting Nazis. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem condemned this use of Holocaust history and allusion to Nazi ideology in propaganda.
During the second build-up, Russia demanded that the US and NATO enter into a legally binding arrangement preventing Ukraine from ever joining NATO, and remove multinational forces from NATO's Eastern European member states. Russia threatened an unspecified military response if NATO followed an "aggressive line". These demands were widely seen as non-viable; new NATO members in Central and Eastern Europe had joined the alliance because they preferred the safety and economic opportunities offered by NATO and the EU, and their governments sought protection from Russian irredentism. A formal treaty to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO would contravene the treaty's "open door" policy, despite NATO's unenthusiastic response to Ukrainian requests to join.
Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz made efforts to prevent the war in February. Macron met with Putin but failed to convince him not to go forward with the attack. Scholz warned Putin about heavy sanctions that would be imposed should the invasion happen. Scholz also pleaded with Zelenskyy to renounce the aspiration to join NATO and declare neutrality, however Zelenskyy refused it.
Alleged clashes (17–21 February 2022)
Fighting in Donbas escalated after 17 February 2022. Ukraine and separatists in the Donbas each accused the other of firing across the line of conflict. On 18 February, the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics ordered emergency evacuations of civilians, though a BBC analysis found that the video announcing the "emergency" evacuation had been filmed two days prior to its purported date. There was a sharp increase in artillery shelling by the Russian-led militants in Donbas, which was considered by Ukraine and its allies to be an attempt to provoke the Ukrainian army or create a pretext for invasion. On 19 February both separatist republics declared full mobilisation.
In the days leading up to the invasion, the Russian government intensified a disinformation campaign intended to mute public criticism. Russian state media promoted fabricated videos (many amateurish) that purported to show Ukrainian forces attacking Russians in Donbas; evidence showed that the purported attacks, explosions, and evacuations were staged by Russia. On 21 February, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said that Russian forces had killed five Ukrainian "saboteurs" that had crossed into Russian territory, captured one Ukrainian serviceman and destroyed two armoured vehicles. Ukraine denied this, and warned that Russia sought a pretext for an invasion. The Sunday Times described it as "the first move in Putin's war plan".
Escalation (21–23 February 2022)
On 21 February, the Russian government recognised the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics. The same evening, Putin ordered Russian troops into Donbas, on what he called a "peacekeeping mission". Several members of the UN Security Council condemned the 21 February intervention in Donbas; none voiced support. On 22 February, video footage shot in the early morning showed Russian armed forces and tanks moving in the Donbas region. The Federation Council authorised the use of military force outside Russia.
Zelenskyy called up army reservists; and Ukraine's parliament proclaimed a 30-day national state of emergency. Russia evacuated its embassy from Kyiv. DDoS attacks widely attributed to Russian-backed hackers hit the websites of the Ukrainian parliament and executive branch, and many bank websites also. Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) denied reports of Chinese military espionage on the eve of the invasion, including on nuclear infrastructure.
On 23 February, Zelenskyy gave a speech in Russian, appealing to Russian citizens to prevent war. He refuted Russian claims of neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian government and said that he had no intention of attacking Donbas. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on 23 February that separatist leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk had sent Putin a letter saying that Ukrainian shelling had caused civilian deaths and appealing for military support from Russia. Ukraine requested an urgent UN Security Council meeting. Half an hour into the emergency meeting, Putin announced the start of military operations in Ukraine. Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian representative, called on the Russian representative, Vasily Nebenzya, to "do everything possible to stop the war" or relinquish his position as president of the UN Security Council; Nebenzya refused.
Declaration of military operations
On 24 February, before 5:00 a.m. Kyiv time, Putin announced a "special military operation" in eastern Ukraine and "effectively declared war on Ukraine." In his speech, Putin said he had no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory and that he supported the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination. He said the purpose of the "operation" was to "protect the people" in the predominantly Russian-speaking region of Donbas who he falsely claimed that "for eight years now, [had] been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime".
Putin said that Russia sought the "demilitarisation and denazification" of Ukraine. Within minutes of Putin's announcement, explosions were reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and the Donbas region. An alleged leaked report from within the FSB claimed that the intelligence agency was not warned of Putin's plan to invade Ukraine. Immediately following the attack, Zelenskyy declared martial law in Ukraine. The same evening, he ordered a general mobilisation of all Ukrainian males between 18 and 60 years old who were prohibited from leaving the country. Russian troops entered Ukraine from the north in Belarus (towards Kyiv); from the north-east in Russia (towards Kharkiv); from the east in the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic; and from the south in Crimea. 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.
Invasion and resistance
The invasion began at dawn of 24 February, with infantry divisions and armoured and air support in Eastern Ukraine, and dozens of missile attacks across both Eastern Ukraine and Western Ukraine. The first fighting took place in Luhansk Oblast near Milove village on the border with Russia at 3:40 am Kyiv time. The main infantry and tank attacks were launched in four spearhead incursions, creating a northern front launched towards Kyiv, a southern front originating in Crimea, a south-eastern front launched at the cities of Luhansk and Donbas, and an eastern front.
Dozens of missile strikes across Ukraine reached as far west as Lviv. Wagner Group mercenaries and Chechen forces reportedly made several attempts to assassinate Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The Ukrainian government said these efforts were thwarted by anti-war officials in Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), who shared intelligence of the plans. The Russian invasion was unexpectedly met by fierce Ukrainian resistance. In Kyiv, Russia failed to take the city as its attacks were repulsed at the suburbs during the battles of Irpin, Hostomel and Bucha. The Russian army tried to encircle the capital but Ukrainian forces managed to hold ground and put to effective use Western arms, including Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, stretching thin Russian supply lines and stalling the offensive.
On 9 March, a column of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles was ambushed in Brovary, suffered heavy losses and was forced to retreat. On the northern front, the Russian army adopted siege tactics to the key cities of Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv but failed to capture them due to stiff resistance and logistical setbacks On the southern front, Russian forces captured the major city of Kherson on 2 March. In Mykolaiv Oblast, it advanced as far as Voznesensk but was repelled to south of Mykolaiv. On 25 March, the Russian Defence Ministry said the first stage of the "military operation" in Ukraine was "generally complete", that the Ukrainian military forces had suffered serious losses, and the Russian military would now concentrate on the "liberation of Donbas". The "first stage" of the invasion was conducted on four fronts including one towards western Kyiv from Belarus, conducted by the Russian Eastern Military District, comprising the 29th, 35th, and 36th Combined Arms Armies. A second axis deployed towards eastern Kyiv from Russia by the Central Military District (north-eastern front), comprised the 41st Combined Arms Army and 2nd Guards Combined Arms Army.
A third axis deployed towards Kharkiv by the Western Military District (eastern front), with the 1st Guards Tank Army and 20th Combined Arms Army. A fourth, southern, front originating in occupied Crimea and Russia's Rostov oblast with an eastern axis towards Odesa and a western area of operations toward Mariupol was opened by the Southern Military District, including the 58th, 49th, and 8th Combined Arms Army, the latter also commanding the 1st and 2nd Army Corps of the Russian separatist forces in Donbas. By 7 April, Russian troops deployed to the northern front by the Russian Eastern Military District pulled back from the Kyiv offensive, apparently to resupply and then redeploy to the Donbas region to reinforce the renewed invasion of south-eastern Ukraine. The north-eastern front, including the Central Military District, was similarly withdrawn for resupply and redeployment to south-eastern Ukraine. By 8 April, General Alexander Dvornikov was placed in charge of military operations during the invasion.
On 18 April, retired Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, the former US ambassador to NATO, reported in a PBS NewsHour interview 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 from adequate weapon stockpiles in Russia. For Lute, this contrasted sharply with the vast size of the Ukrainian conscription of all-male Ukrainian citizens between 16 and 60 years of age, but without adequate weapons in Ukraine's highly limited stockpiles of weapons. On 26 April, delegates of the US and 40 allied nations met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss forming a coalition to provide economic support and military supplies and refitting to Ukraine. Following Putin's Victory Day speech in early May, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said no short term resolution to the invasion should be expected.
Russian forces improved their focus on protecting their supply lines by advancing more slowly, and more methodically. They also benefited from centralising command under General Dvornikov. Ukraine's reliance on Western-supplied equipment constrained it, as Western countries feared that Ukraine would use it to strike targets in Russia. Military experts disagreed on the future of the conflict; some suggested Ukraine to trade territory for peace, while others assessed that Ukraine could sustain its resistance to the invasion, due to the Russian losses. On 26 May 2022, the Conflict Intelligence Team, citing Russian soldiers, reported that Colonel General Gennady Zhidko had been put in charge of Russian forces during the invasion, replacing Army General Dvornikov.
By 30 May, disparities between Russian and Ukrainian artillery were apparent with Ukrainian artillery being vastly outgunned by range and number. In response to Biden's indication that enhanced artillery would be provided to Ukraine, Putin indicated that Russian would expand its invasion front to include new cities in Ukraine and in apparent retribution ordered a missile strike against Kyiv on 6 June after not directly attacking the city for several weeks. On 10 June 2022, Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine's military intelligence, stated during the Severodonetsk campaign that the frontlines were where the future of the invasion would be decided: "This is an artillery war now, and we are losing in terms of artillery. Everything now depends on what [the west] gives us. Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our western partners have given us about 10% of what they have."
On 29 June, Reuters reported that Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, updating U.S. intelligence assessment of the Russian invasion, said that U.S. intelligence agencies agree that the invasion will continue "for an extended period of time... In short, the picture remains pretty grim and Russia's attitude toward the West is hardening." On 5 July, BBC reported that extensive destruction by the Russian invasion would cause immense financial damage to Ukraine's reconstruction economy stating: "Ukraine needs $750bn for a recovery plan and Russian oligarchs should contribute to the cost, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has told a reconstruction conference in Switzerland."
First phase: Invasion of Ukraine (24 February – 7 April)
The invasion began on 24 February, launched out of Belarus to target Kyiv, and from the northeast against the city of Kharkiv. The southeastern front was conducted as two separate spearheads, from Crimea and the southeast against Luhansk and Donetsk.
Russian efforts to capture Kyiv included a probative spearhead on 24 February, from Belarus south along the west bank of the Dnipro River, apparently to encircle the city from the west, 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. These were likely intended to encircle Kyiv from the north-east and east.
Russia apparently tried to rapidly seize Kyiv, with Spetsnaz infiltrating into the city supported by airborne operations and a rapid mechanised advance from the north, but was unsuccessful. Russian forces advancing on Kyiv from Belarus gained control of the ghost towns of Chernobyl and Pripyat. Russian Airborne Forces attempted to seize two key airfields near Kyiv, launching an airborne assault on Antonov Airport, and a similar landing at Vasylkiv, near Vasylkiv Air Base, on 26 February.
By early March, Russian advances along the west side of the Dnipro were limited by Ukrainian defences. As of 5 March, a large Russian convoy, reportedly 64 kilometres (40 mi) long, had made little progress toward Kyiv. The London-based think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) assessed Russian advances from the north and east as "stalled". Advances from Chernihiv largely halted as a siege began there. Russian forces continued to advance on Kyiv from the northwest, capturing Bucha, Hostomel, and Vorzel by 5 March, though Irpin remained contested as of 9 March. By 11 March, the lengthy convoy had largely dispersed and taken cover. On 16 March, Ukrainian forces began a counter-offensive to repel Russian forces. Unable to achieve a quick victory in Kyiv, Russian forces switched their strategy to indiscriminate bombing and siege warfare.
On 25 March, a Ukrainian counter-offensive retook several towns to the east and west of Kyiv, including Makariv. Russian troops in the Bucha area retreated north at the end of March. Ukrainian forces entered the city on 1 April. Ukraine said it had recaptured the entire region around Kyiv, including Irpin, Bucha, and Hostomel, and uncovered evidence of war crimes in Bucha. 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 Ukraine, by redeploying and concentrating his forces on Eastern Ukraine. Kyiv was generally left free from attack apart from isolated missile strikes. One did occur while UN Secretary-General António Guterres was visiting Kyiv on 28 April to discuss with Zelenskyy the survivors of the siege of Mariupol.
Russian forces advanced into Chernihiv Oblast on 24 February and besieged its administrative capital. The next day Russian forces attacked and captured Konotop. A separate advance into Sumy Oblast the same day attacked the city of Sumy, just 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the Russo-Ukrainian border. The advance bogged down in urban fighting, and Ukrainian forces successfully held the city, claiming more than 100 Russian armoured vehicles were destroyed and dozens of soldiers were captured. Russian forces also attacked Okhtyrka, deploying thermobaric weapons.
On 4 March, Frederick Kagan wrote that the Sumy axis was then "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". Travelling along highways, Russian forces reached Brovary, an eastern suburb of Kyiv, on 4 March. The Pentagon confirmed on 6 April that the Russian army had left Chernihiv Oblast, but Sumy Oblast remained contested. On 7 April, the governor of Sumy Oblast said that Russian troops were gone, but left behind rigged explosives and other hazards.
On 24 February, Russian forces took control of the North Crimean Canal, allowing Crimea to obtain water from the Dnieper, cut off since 2014. On 26 February, the siege of Mariupol began as the attack moved east linking to separatist-held Donbas. En route, Russian forces entered Berdiansk and captured it. On 1 March, Russian forces attacked Melitopol and nearby cities. On 25 February, Russian units from the DPR moves on Mariupol and were defeated near Pavlopil. By evening, the Russian Navy reportedly began an amphibious assault on the coast 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.
The Russian 22nd Army Corps approached the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on 26 February and besieged Enerhodar to take control of it. A fire began, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) subsequently said that essential equipment was undamaged. The nuclear power plant fell under Russian control but despite the fires, it recorded no radiation leaks. A third Russian attack group from Crimea moved northwest and captured bridges over the Dnieper. On 2 March, Russian troops won a battle at Kherson the first major city to fall to Russian forces in the invasion. Russian troops moved on Mykolaiv and attacked it two days later, but were repelled by Ukrainian forces. Also on 2 March, Ukrainian forces initiated a counter-offensive on Horlivka, controlled by the DPR since 2014.
After renewed missile attacks on 14 March in Mariupol, the Ukrainian government said more than 2,500 had died. By 18 March, Mariupol was completely encircled and fighting reached the city centre, hampering efforts to evacuate civilians. On 20 March, an art school sheltering around 400 people, was destroyed by Russian bombs. The Russians demanded surrender, and the Ukrainians refused. On 24 March, Russian forces entered central Mariupol. On 27 March, Ukrainian deputy prime minister Olha Stefanishyna said that "(m)ore than 85 percent of the whole town is destroyed."
Putin told Emmanuel Macron in a phone call on 29 March that the bombardment of Mariupol would only end when the Ukrainians surrendered. On 1 April Russian troops refused safe passage into Mariupol to 50 buses sent by the United Nations to evacuate civilians, as peace talks continued in Istanbul. On 3 April, following the retreat of Russian forces from Kyiv, Russia expanded its attack on Southern Ukraine further west, with bombardment and strikes against Odesa, Mykolaiv, and the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
In the east, Russian troops attempted to capture Kharkiv, less than 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the Russian border, and met strong Ukrainian resistance. On 25 February, the Millerovo air base was attacked by Ukrainian military forces with OTR-21 Tochka missiles, which according to Ukrainian officials, destroyed several Russian Air Force planes and started a fire. On 28 February, missile attacks killed several people in Kharkiv. On 1 March, Denis Pushilin, head of the DPR, announced that DPR forces had almost completely surrounded the city of Volnovakha. On 2 March, Russian forces were repelled from Sievierodonetsk during an attack against the city. Izium was reportedly captured by Russian forces on 17 March, although fighting continued.
On 25 March, the Russian defence ministry said it would seek to occupy major cities in Eastern Ukraine. On 31 March, the Ukrainian military confirmed Izium was under Russian control, and PBS News reported renewed shelling and missile attacks in Kharkiv, as bad or worse than before, as peace talks with Russia were to resume in Istanbul.
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. Ukraine denied responsibility. By 7 April, the renewed massing of Russian invasion troops and tank divisions around the towns of Izium, Sloviansk, and Kramatorsk prompted Ukrainian government officials to advise the remaining residents near the eastern border of Ukraine to evacuate to western Ukraine within 2–3 days, given the absence of arms and munitions previously promised to Ukraine by then.
Second phase: South-Eastern front (8 April – 5 September)
On 8 April, the Russian ministry announced that all troops and divisions in south-eastern Ukraine would unite under General Aleksandr Dvornikov, who was placed in charge of combined military operations, including the units redeployed from the northern front and north-eastern fronts. By 17 April, Russian progress on the south-eastern front appeared to be impeded by opposing Ukrainian forces in the large, heavily fortified Azovstal steel mill and surrounding area in Mariupol.
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 (480 km) front extending from Kharkiv to Donetsk and Luhansk, with simultaneous missile attacks again directed at Kyiv in the north and Lviv in Western Ukraine. As of 30 April, a NATO official described Russian advances as "uneven" and "minor". An anonymous US Defence Official called the Russian offensive: "very tepid", "minimal at best", and "anaemic". On 26 May 2022, the Conflict Intelligence Team, citing Russian soldiers, reported that Colonel General Gennady Zhidko had been put in charge of Russian forces during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, replacing Army General Dvornikov.
In June 2022 the chief spokesman for the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation Igor Konashenkov revealed that Russian troops are divided between the Army Groups "Center" commanded by Colonel General Aleksander Lapin and "South" commanded by Army General Sergey Surovikin. On 20 July, Lavrov announced that Russia would respond to the increased military aid being received by Ukraine from abroad as justifying the expansion of its special military operation to include objectives in both the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.
Missile attacks and bombardment of the key cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa continued as the second phase of the invasion began. On 22 April, Russia's Brigadier General Rustam Minnekayev in a defence ministry meeting said that Russia planned to extend its Mykolayiv–Odesa front after the siege of Mariupol further west to include the breakaway region of Transnistria on the Ukrainian border with Moldova. The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine described this intention as imperialism, saying that it contradicted previous Russian claims that it did not have territorial ambitions in Ukraine and that the statement was an admission 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". Georgi Gotev, writing for Reuters on 22 April, noted that occupying Ukraine from Odesa to Transnistria would transform it into a landlocked nation without any practical access to the Black Sea. On 24 April, Russia resumed its missile strikes on Odesa, destroying military facilities and causing two dozen civilian casualties.
On 27 April, Ukrainian sources indicated that explosions had destroyed two Russian broadcast towers in Transnistria, primarily used to rebroadcast Russian television programming. At the end of April, Russia renewed missile attacks on runways in Odesa, destroying some of them. During the week of 10 May, Ukrainian troops began to take military action to dislodge Russian forces installing themselves on Snake Island in the Black Sea approximately 200 kilometres (120 mi) from Odesa. On 30 June 2022, Russia announced that it had withdrawn troops from the island after objectives were completed.
On 23 July, CNBC reported a Russian missile strike on Ukrainian port Odesa stating that the action was swiftly condemned by world leaders, a dramatic revelation amid a recently U.N. and Turkish-brokered deal that secured a sea corridor for grains and other foodstuff exports. On 31 July, CNN reported significant intensification of the rocket attacks and bombing of Mykolaiv by Russians also killing Ukrainian grain tycoon Oleksiy Vadaturskyi in the city during the bombing.
Russian forces continued to fire missiles and drop bombs on the key cities of Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia. On 10 April, Russian missiles destroyed the Dnipro International Airport. On 2 May the UN reportedly evacuated about 100 survivors from the siege at Mariupol with the cooperation of Russian troops, to the village of Bezimenne near Donetsk, from whence they were to move to Zaporizhzhia. On 28 June, Reuters reported that a Russian missile attack was launched upon the city of Kremenchuk north-west or Zaporizhzhia detonating in a public mall and causing at least 18 deaths while drawing condemnation from France's Emmanuel Macron, among other world leaders, who spoke of it as being a "war crime". 2022 July Dnipro missile strike killed four.
On 7 July, it was reported that after the Russians captured the nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia earlier in the invasion, installed heavy artillery and mobile missile launchers between the separate reactor walls of the nuclear installation as a shield against possible Ukrainian counterattack, not possible without the risk of radiation fallout in case of near misses against the installed Russian artillery sites. On 19 August, Russia agreed to allow IAEA inspectors access to the Zaporizhzhia plant from Ukrainian-held territory, after a phone call between the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and Russian president, Vladimir Putin. A temporary ceasefire around the plant still needed to be agreed for the inspection.
Russia reported that 12 attacks with over 50 artillery shells explosions had been recorded at the plant and the staff town of Energodar, by 18 August. Also on 19 August, Tobias Ellwood, chair of the UK's Defence Select Committee, said that any deliberate damage to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant that could cause radiation leaks would be a breach of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, according to which an attack on a member state of NATO is an attack on all of them. The next day, United States congressman Adam Kinzinger said that any radiation leak would kill people in NATO countries, which would be an automatic activation of Article 5.
Shelling hit coal ash dumps at the neighbouring coal-fired power station on 23 August, and ash was on fire by 25 August. The 750 kV transmission line to the Dniprovska substation, which was the only one of the four 750 kV transmission lines that had not yet been damaged and cut by military action, passes over the ash dumps. At 12:12pm on 25 August the line cut off due to the fire below, disconnecting the plant and its two operating reactors from the national grid for the first time since it started operating in 1985. In response, reactor 5's back-up generators and coolant pumps started up, and reactor 6 reduced generation.
Incoming power was still available via the 330 kV line to the substation at the coal-fired station, so the diesel generators were not essential for cooling reactor cores and spent fuel pools. The 750 kV line and reactor 6 resumed operation at 12:29pm, but the line was cut by fire again two hours later. The line, but not the reactors, resumed operation again later that day. On 26 August, one reactor restarted in the afternoon and another in the evening, resuming electricity supplies to the grid. On 29 August 2022, an IAEA team led by Rafael Grossi went to investigate the plant. Lydie Evrard and Massimo Aparo were also in the leadership team. No leaks had been reported at the plant before their arrival but shelling had occurred days before.
Fall of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk
A Russian missile attack on Kramatorsk railway station in the city of Kramatorsk took place on 8 April, reportedly killing at least 52 and injuring 87 to 300. On 11 April, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine expected a major new Russian offensive in the east. American officials said that Russia had withdrawn or been repulsed elsewhere in Ukraine, and therefore was preparing a retraction, resupply, and redeployment of infantry and tank divisions to the south-eastern Ukraine front. Military satellites photographed extensive Russian convoys of infantry and mechanised units deploying south from Kharkiv to Izium on 11 April, apparently part of the planned Russian redeployment of its north-eastern troops to the south-eastern front of the invasion.
On 14 April, Ukrainian troops reportedly blew up a bridge between Kharkiv and Izium used by Russian forces to redeploy troops to Izium, impeding the Russian convoy. On 18 April, with Mariupol almost entirely overtaken by Russian forces, the Ukrainian government announced that the second phase of the reinforced invasion of the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions had intensified with expanded invasion forces occupying of the Donbas.
On 5 May, David Axe writing for Forbes stated that the Ukrainian army had concentrated its 4th and 17th Tank Brigades and the 95th Air Assault Brigade around Izium for possible rearguard action against the deployed Russian troops in the area; Axe added that the other major concentration of Ukraine's forces around Kharkiv included the 92nd and 93rd Mechanized Brigades which could similarly be deployed for rearguard action against Russian troops around Kharkiv or link up with Ukrainian troops contemporaneously being deployed around Izium.
On 13 May, BBC reported that Russian troops in Kharkiv were being retracted and redeployed to other fronts in Ukraine following the advances of Ukrainian troops into surrounding cities and Kharkiv itself, which included the destruction of strategic pontoon bridges built by Russian troops to cross over the Seversky Donets river and previously used for rapid tank deployment in the region. On 22 May, the BBC reported that after the fall of Mariupol, Russia had intensified offensives in Luhansk and Donetsk while concentrating missile attacks and intense artillery fire on Sievierodonetsk, the largest city under Ukrainian control in Luhansk province.
On 23 May, Russian forces were reported entering the city of Lyman, fully capturing the city by 26 May. Ukrainian forces were reported leaving Sviatohirsk. By 24 May, Russian forces captured the city of Svitlodarsk. On 30 May, Reuters reported that Russian troops had breached the outskirts of Sievierodonetsk. By 2 June, The Washington Post reported that Sievierodonetsk was on the brink of capitulation to Russian occupation with over 80 per cent of the city in the hands of Russian troops. On 3 June, Ukrainian forces reportedly began a counter-attack in Sievierodonetsk. By 4 June, Ukrainian government sources claimed 20% or more of the city had been recaptured. However, on 5 June Ukrainian governor of Luhansk Serhiy Haidai said Dvornikov was still in command and had been given until 10 June by his superiors to complete the reduction of Severodonetsk.
On 12 June it was reported that possibly as many as 800 Ukrainian civilians (as per Ukrainian estimates) and 300–400 soldiers (as per Russian sources) were besieged at the Azot chemical factory in Severodonetsk. With the Ukrainian defences of Severodonetsk faltering, Russian invasion troops began intensifying their attack upon the neighbouring city of Lysychansk as their next target city in the invasion. On 20 June it was reported that Russian troops continued to tighten their grip on Severodonetsk by capturing surrounding villages and hamlets surrounding the city, most recently the village of Metelkine.
On 24 June, CNN reported that, amid continuing scorched-earth tactics being applied by advancing Russian troops, Ukraine's armed forces were ordered to evacuate the city; they'd leave several hundred civilians seeking refuge in the Azot chemical plant in Severodenetsk, which has been compared to the civilian refugees left at the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol during May. On 3 July, CBS announced that the Russian defense ministry claimed that the city of Lysychansk had been captured and occupied by Russian forces. On 4 July, The Guardian reported that after the fall of the Luhansk oblast, that Russian invasion troops would continue their invasion into the adjacent Donetsk oblast to attack the cities of Sloviansk and Bakhmut.
Fall of Mariupol
On 13 April, Russian forces intensified their attack on the Azovstal iron and steel works in Mariupol, and the Ukrainian defence forces that remained there. By 17 April, Russian forces had surrounded the factory. Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal said that the Ukrainian soldiers had vowed to ignore the renewed ultimatum to surrender and to fight to the last soul. On 20 April, Putin said that the siege of Mariupol could be considered tactically complete, since the 500 Ukrainian troops entrenched in bunkers within the Azovstal iron works and estimated 1,000 Ukrainian civilians were completely sealed off from any type of relief in their siege.
After consecutive meetings with Putin and Zelenskyy, UN Secretary-General Guterres on 28 April said he would attempt to organise an emergency evacuation of survivors from Azovstal in accordance with assurances he had received from Putin on his visit to the Kremlin. On 30 April, Russian troops allowed civilians to leave under UN protection. By 3 May, after allowing approximately 100 Ukrainian civilians to depart from the Azovstal steel factory, Russian troops renewed non-stop bombardment of the steel factory. On 6 May, The Telegraph reported that Russia had used thermobaric bombs against the remaining Ukrainian soldiers, who had lost contact with the Kyiv government; in his last communications, Zelenskyy had authorised the commander of the besieged steel factory to surrender as necessary under the pressure of increased Russian attacks. On 7 May, the Associated Press reported that all civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel works at the end of the three-day ceasefire.
After the last civilians evacuated from the Azovstal bunkers, nearly two thousand Ukrainian soldiers remained barricaded there, with 700 injured; they were able to communicate a plea for a military corridor to evacuate, as they expected summary execution if they surrendered to the Russians. Reports of dissent within the Ukrainian troops at Azovstal were reported by Ukrainskaya Pravda on 8 May indicating that the commander of the Ukrainian Marines assigned to defend the Azovstal bunkers made an unauthorised acquisition of tanks, munitions, and personnel, broke out from the position there and fled. The remaining soldiers spoke of a weakened defensive position in Azovstal as a result, which allowed progress to advancing Russian lines of attack. Ilia Somolienko, deputy commander of the remaining Ukrainian troops barricaded at Azovstal, said: "We are basically here dead men. Most of us know this and it's why we fight so fearlessly."
On 16 May, the Ukrainian General staff announced that the Mariupol garrison had "fulfilled its combat mission" and that final evacuations from the Azovstal steel factory had begun. The military said that 264 service members were evacuated to Olenivka under Russian control, while 53 of them who were "seriously injured" had been taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk also controlled by Russian forces. Following the evacuation of Ukrainian personnel from Azovstal, Russian and DPR forces fully controlled all areas of Mariupol. The end of the battle also brought an end to the Siege of Mariupol. Russia press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed that the fighters who surrendered would be treated "in accordance with international standards" while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an address that "the work of bringing the boys home continues, and this work needs delicacy — and time". Some prominent Russian lawmakers called on the government to deny prisoner exchanges for members of the Azov Regiment.
Attacks in Crimea
On 31 July 2022, Russian Navy Day commemorations were cancelled after a drone attack reportedly wounded several people at the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol. On 9 August 2022, there were large explosions reported at Saky Air Base in western Crimea. Satellite imagery showed that at least eight aircraft were damaged or destroyed. The cause of the explosions is unknown, but may have been long-range missiles, sabotage by special forces or an accident; Ukrainian commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi claimed on 7 September that it had been a Ukrainian missile attack.
The base is located near the town of Novofedorivka, which is popular with tourists. Queues to leave the area formed at the Kerch bridge after the explosions. A week later there were explosions and a fire at an arms depot near Dzhankoi in northeastern Crimea, which Russia blamed on "sabotage". A railway line and power station were also damaged. According to the Russian regional head, Sergei Aksyonov, 2,000 people were evacuated from the area. On 18 August, explosions were reported at Belbek Air Base, north of Sevastopol.
Third phase: Ukrainian counteroffensives (6 September – present)
On 6 September 2022, Ukrainian forces launched a surprise counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, beginning near Balakliia. By 12 September, an emboldened Kyiv launched a counteroffensive in the area surrounding Kharkiv with sufficient success for Russia to publicly admit to losing key positions in the area. The New York Times reported on 12 September that the success of the counteroffensive dented the image of a "Mighty Putin", and led to encouraging the government in Kyiv to seek more arms from the West to sustain its counteroffensive in Kharkiv and surrounding areas.
On 21 September 2022, Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization. He also said that his country will use "all means" to "defend itself". Later that day, the minister of defence Sergei Shoigu stated that 300,000 reservists would be called on a compulsory basis. Mykhailo Podolyak, the adviser to the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that the decision was predictable, and was an attempt to justify "Russia's failures". British Foreign Office Minister Gillian Keegan called the situation an "escalation", while former Mongolian president Tsakhia Elbegdorj accused Russia of using Russian Mongols as "cannon fodder".
In late September 2022, Russian-installed officials in Ukraine organized referendums on annexation of occupied territories of Ukraine, including the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic in Russian occupied Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine, as well as the Russian-appointed military administrations of Kherson Oblast and Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Denounced by Ukraine's government and its allies as sham elections, the official results showed overwhelming majorities in favor of annexation.
On 30 September 2022, Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in an address to both houses of the Russian parliament. Ukraine, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations all condemned the annexation.
On 29 August, Zelenskyy advisedly vowed the start of a full-scale counteroffensive in the southeast. He first announced a counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied territory in the south concentrating on the Kherson-Mykolaiv region, a claim that was corroborated by the Ukrainian parliament as well as Operational Command South. At the start of the operation, the Ukrainian operational group "Kakhovka" and some Ukrainian officials claimed that their forces had broken through defensive lines manned by the 109th DPR Regiment and Russian paratroopers.
The 109th DPR Regiment, which was a conscript unit that was known to serve on garrison duty in the Kherson area, was reported to have withdrawn from it. Ukrainian officials also claimed that they had hit and destroyed a large Russian base in the area amid a general increase of Ukrainian air and artillery bombardments of Russian positions. On 1 September, the Ukrainian army claimed to have captured Stanislav and Snihurivka, confirmed by local sources. On 4 September, president Zelenskyy announced the liberation of two unnamed villages in Kherson Oblast and one in Donetsk Oblast. Ukrainian authorities released a photo showing the raising of the Ukrainian flag in Vysokopillia by Ukrainian forces.
On 6 September, Ukraine started a second offensive in the Kharkiv area, where it achieved a rapid breakthrough. Meanwhile, Ukrainian attacks also continued along the southern frontline, though reports about territorial changes were largely unverifiable. On 12 September, President Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian forces had retaken a total of 6,000 sq km from Russia, in both the south and the east. The BBC stated that it could not verify these claims. By 13 September, that Russian forces had withdrawn from Kyselivka, a settlement 15 km from Kherson.
On the same day, the Russia-backed deputy head of the Kherson Region posted a video from the outskirts of the settlement in which he claimed that Ukrainian troops have not been able to enter it. The mayor of Melitopol reported that Russian forces were abandoning the city and were moving to Russian-held Crimea. Ukraine also claimed to have retaken Oleksandrivka on 13 September. A local official claimed that Ukraine had retaken Kyselivka, but this had not been confirmed by the Ukrainian military or outside sources such as the ISW as of 14 September.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces launched another surprise counteroffensive on 6 September in the Kharkiv region, beginning near Balakliia. By 7 September, Ukrainian forces had advanced some 20 kilometres (12 mi) into Russian occupied territory and claimed to have recaptured approximately 400 square kilometres (150 sq mi). Russian commentators said this was likely due to the relocation of Russian forces to Kherson in response to the Ukrainian offensive there. On 8 September, Ukrainian forces captured Balakliia and advanced to within 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) of Kupiansk. Military analysts said Ukrainian forces appeared to be moving towards Kupiansk, a major railway hub, with the aim of cutting off the Russian forces at Izium from the north.
On 9 September, the Russian occupation administration of Kharkiv Oblast announced it would "evacuate" the civilian populations of Izium, Kupiansk and Velykyi Burluk. The Institute for the Study of War said it believed Kupiansk would likely fall in the next 72 hours, while Russian reserve units were sent to the area by both road and helicopter. On the morning of 10 September, photos emerged claiming to depict Ukrainian troops raising the Ukrainian flag in the centre of Kupiansk, and the Institute for the Study of War said Ukrainian forces had captured approximately 2,500 square kilometres (970 sq mi) by effectively exploiting their breakthrough.
Later in the day, Reuters reported that Russian positions in northeast Ukraine had "collapsed" in the face of the Ukrainian assault, with Russian forces forced to withdraw from their base at Izium after being cut off by the capture of Kupiansk. By 15 September, an assessment by UK's Ministry of Defence confirmed that Russia has either lost or withdrawn from almost all of their positions west of Oskil river. The retreating units have also abandoned various high-value military assets.
On 3 September 2022, an IAEA delegation visited the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia and on 6 September a report was published documenting damages and threats to the plant security caused by external shelling and presence of occupational troops in the plant. On 11 September, at 3.14am, the sixth and final reactor was disconnected from the grid, "completely stopping" the plant. The statement from Energoatom said that "Preparations are underway for its cooling and transfer to a cold state".
Missile attacks and air war
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. 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. On 16 May, US defence officials say that in the previous 24 hours Russians fired long range missiles targeting military training facility near Lviv.
On 24 February, Russian forces attacked the Chuhuiv air base, which housed Bayraktar TB2 drones. The attack caused damage to fuel storage areas and infrastructure. The next day, Ukrainian forces attacked the Millerovo air base. On 27 February, Russia reportedly fired 9K720 Iskander missiles from Belarus at the civilian Zhytomyr Airport. Many Ukrainian air defence facilities were destroyed or damaged in the first days of the invasion by Russian air strikes. In the opening days of the conflict, Russia fired many cruise and ballistic missiles at the principal Ukrainian ground-based early warning radars, thereby blinding the Ukrainian Air Force to their air activity. Craters in the operating surfaces at the major Ukrainian air bases hindered Ukrainian aircraft movements, and several Ukrainian long-range S-300P surface-to-air missile batteries were destroyed.
On 1 March, Russia and the US established a deconfliction line to avoid any misunderstanding that could cause an unintentional escalation. Russia lost at least ten aircraft on 5 March. On 6 March, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that 88 Russian aircraft had been destroyed since the war began. 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. 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. In contrast, according to the United States, 49 Ukrainian fighter aircraft were lost by 18 March.
On 11 March, US officials said that Russian aircraft launched up to 200 sorties a day, most not entering Ukrainian airspace, instead staying in Russian airspace. 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. The poor performance of the Russian Air Force has been attributed by The Economist to Russia's inability to suppress Ukraine's medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries and Russia's lack of precision-guided bombs. Ukrainian mid-range SAM sites force planes to fly low, making them vulnerable to Stinger and other shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, and lack of training and flight hours for Russian pilots renders them inexperienced for the type of close ground support missions typical of modern air forces. On 5 May, Forbes magazine reported that Russians had continued air attacks and "continue to send Su-24 and Su-25 attack planes on treetop-level bombing runs targeting Ukrainian positions."
By June 2022, Russia had not achieved air superiority, having lost around 165 of its combat aircraft over Ukraine which amounted to approximately 10% of its frontline combat strength. Western commentators noted the qualitative and quantitative advantages the Russian Air Force had over its Ukrainian counterpart, but attributed the poor performance of Russian aviation to the extensive ground-based anti-aircraft capabilities of the Ukrainians.
An attack on Dnipro proper was carried out by Russian armed forces on 15 July 2022. As a result, 4 people died and 16 were injured. The main target was the largest space plant of Ukraine located within the city. The city was struck by X-101 missiles launched from Tu-95 aircraft in the northern part of the Caspian Sea. According to preliminary data, eight missiles were launched, of which four were shot down by the Ukrainian Air Defence Forces. Each missile costs 13 million dollars (8 missiles cost Russia more than 100 million dollars).
Part of the rockets hit the "Pivdenmash" enterprise. As a result of the impact, the city's water supply was damaged, and part of the city's residents were left without water supply. More than ten cars were damaged, doors and windows were destroyed in residential buildings. Four people were killed. One of the victims was a city bus driver. On the first day, 15 wounded were reported, and the next day their number increased to 16.
In August the USAF was able to integrate AGM-88 HARM missiles into the Ukrainian Su-27s and MiG-29s. This effort has taken "some months" to achieve. This does not give the Ukrainian air force the same "capabilities that it would on an F-16." However US Air Force General James B. Hecker said: "Even though you don't get a kinetic kill … you can get local air superiority for a period of time where you can do what you need to do."
On 19 September, US Air Force General James B. Hecker said that 55 Russian military aircraft had been shot down by Ukrainian air defences since the start of the invasion. He credited this success to the Ukrainian use of SA-11 and SA-10 air defence systems. As the US does not have these systems, getting new missiles from European allies is a "big ask" from Kyiv. Russian airplanes increased their operations in response to the 2022 Ukrainian Kharkiv Oblast counteroffensive. The tally of downed aircraft increased to 55 when the UK MoD stated that it believed that some 4 Russian jets had been downed by Ukraine over the previous 10 days. These losses were due to changing front lines (Russia's loss of controlled territory) and other factors. Also, Russian aviation resources were under pressure to provide closer support to ground forces. As of 19 September, the Ukrainian Air Force was at "about 80%" of its pre-invasion strength after 7 months of combat.
Ukraine lies on the Black Sea, which has ocean access only through the Turkish-held Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. On 28 February, Turkey invoked the 1936 Montreux Convention and sealed off the straits to Russian warships not registered to Black Sea home bases and not returning to their ports of origin. This prevented the passage of four Russian naval vessels through the Turkish Straits in late February.
On 24 February, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine announced that an attack on Snake Island by Russian Navy ships had begun. The guided missile cruiser Moskva and patrol boat Vasily Bykov bombarded the island with their deck guns. 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!" After the bombardment, a detachment of Russian soldiers landed and took control of Snake Island.
Russia stated on 26 February that US drones supplied intelligence to the Ukrainian navy to help target Russian warships in the Black Sea, which the US denied. 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. 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. 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.
In March 2022, the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) sought to create a safe sea corridor for commercial vessels to leave Ukrainian ports. On 27 March, Russia established a sea corridor 80 miles (130 km) long and 3 miles (4.8 km) wide through its Maritime Exclusion Zone, for the transit of merchant vessels from the edge of Ukrainian territorial waters south-east of Odesa. Ukraine closed its ports at MARSEC level 3, with sea mines laid in port approaches, until the end to hostilities.
The Russian cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, was, according to Ukrainian sources and a US senior official, hit on 13 April by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles, setting the ship on fire. The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed the warship had suffered serious damage due to a munition explosion caused by a fire, and said that its entire crew had been evacuated. 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.
Later on the same day, the Russian Ministry of Defence stated that Moskva had sunk while under tow in rough weather. 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. On 5 May, a US official confirmed that the US gave "a range of intelligence" (including real-time battlefield targeting intelligence) to assist in the sinking of the Russian cruiser Moskva.
In early May, Ukrainian forces launched counterattacks on Snake Island. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed to have repelled these counterattacks. Ukraine released footage of a Russian Serna-class landing craft located in the Black Sea being destroyed near Snake Island by a Ukrainian drone. The same day, a pair of Ukrainian Su-27 conducted a high-speed, low level bombing run on Russian-occupied Snake Island; the attack was captured on film by a Baykar Bayraktar TB2 drone.
On 1 June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserted that Ukraine's policy of mining its own harbours to impede Russia maritime aggression had contributed to the food export crisis, stating that: "If Kyiv solves the problem of demining ports, the Russian Navy will ensure the unimpeded passage of ships with grain to the Mediterranean Sea." On 30 June 2022, Russia announced that it had withdrawn troops from the island in a "gesture of goodwill". The withdrawal was later officially confirmed by Ukraine.
Four days into the invasion, President Putin placed Russia's nuclear forces on high alert, raising fears that Russia could use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine, or a wider escalation of the conflict could occur. During April, Putin and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov made a number of threats alluding to the use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine and the countries supporting Ukraine. On 14 April, CIA director William Burns said that "potential desperation" in the face of defeat could encourage President Putin to use tactical nuclear weapons.
In response to Russia's disregard of safety precautions during its occupation of the disabled former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl and its firing of missiles in the vicinity of the active nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia, on 26 April President Zelenskyy called for an international discussion on regulating Russia's use of nuclear resources, stating: "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." In August, shelling around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant developed into a crisis, prompting an emergency inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Ukraine has described the crisis as an act of nuclear terrorism by Russia.
On 19 September, CNBC reported that Biden's response to Russian uncertainties about its lack of combat success in its invasion stating: "President Joe Biden warned of a 'consequential' response from the U.S. if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to use nuclear or other non-conventional weapons... Asked what he would say to Putin if he was considering such action, Biden replied, 'Don't. Don't. Don't.'" Following his statement made on the 19 September, Biden appeared before the United Nations on 21 September and continued his criticism of Putin's nuclear sabre-rattling, stating that Putin was "overt, reckless and irresponsible... A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought."
Ukrainian civilians resisted the Russian invasion, volunteered for territorial defence units, made Molotov cocktails, donated food, built barriers such as Czech hedgehogs, and helped to transport refugees. 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. By the beginning of April, Ukrainian civilians began to organise 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.
People physically blocked Russian military vehicles, sometimes forcing them to retreat. The Russian soldiers' response to unarmed civilian resistance varied from reluctance to engage the protesters to firing into the air or directly into crowds. 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. 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.
As of 21 May, President Zelensky indicated that Ukraine had 700,000 servicemembers on active duty combating the Russian invasion. Throughout 2022, Ukraine withdrew soldiers and military equipment deployed to United Nations peacekeeping missions, such as MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, back to Ukraine.
Foreign military sales and aid
Between 2014 and 2021, the UK, US, EU, and NATO provided mostly non-lethal military aid to Ukraine. Lethal military support was initially limited. The US began to sell weapons including Javelin anti-tank missiles starting in 2018, and Ukraine agreed to purchase TB2 combat drones from Turkey in 2019. Russia built up equipment and troops on Ukraine's borders in January 2022. In response, the US worked with other NATO member states to transfer US-produced weapons to Ukraine.
The UK also began to supply Ukraine with NLAW and Javelin anti-tank weapons. After the invasion, NATO member states including Germany agreed to supply weapons, but NATO as an organisation did not. NATO and its members also refused to send troops into Ukraine, or to establish a no fly-zone, lest this spark a larger-scale war, a decision some labelled appeasement.
On 26 February, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $350 million in lethal military assistance, including anti-armor and anti-aircraft systems. 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 for Ukraine, with Poland handling distribution. During the first week of the invasion, NATO member states supplied more than 17,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine; by mid-March, the number was estimated to be more than 20,000. In three tranches agreed in February, March and April 2022, the European Union committed to €1.5 billion to support the capabilities and resilience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the protection of the Ukrainian civilian population, under the purview of the European Peace Facility line.
As of 11 April, Ukraine had been provided with approximately 25,000 anti-air and 60,000 anti-tank weapon systems by the US and its allies. The following day, Russia reportedly received anti-tank missiles and RPGs from Iran, supplied through undercover networks via Iraq.
On 19 April 2022, Romania announced a planned reform to the government decree that regulates the export of military weapons and national defence products to provide these weapons not only to NATO allies but also to Ukraine. The Ministry of Defense developed the draft decree which states that the reason behind this decision was Russia's aggression against Ukraine. However, on 27 April Defense Minister Vasile Dincu said that his plan had been discontinued.
On 28 April, US President Biden asked Congress for an additional $33 billion to assist Ukraine, including $20 billion to provide weapons to Ukraine. On 5 May, Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced that Ukraine had received more than $12 billion worth of weapons and financial aid from Western countries since the start of Russia's invasion on 24 February. On 10 May, the House passed legislation that would provide $40 billion in new aid to Ukraine. After the legislation was approved by the Senate, Biden signed the legislation on 21 May.
On 30 May, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna announced the provision to Ukraine of additional CAESAR self-propelled howitzer systems, mounted on the Renault Sherpa 5 6×6 chassis. On 25 May, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny said that the first batch was already on the front lines fighting the invader. On 10 June, the AFU demonstrated the combat systems to representatives from the press; by that date the Ukrainian gunners had possession of 18 CAESAR units.
On 31 May, the White House informed the press that the US would be supplying HIMARS multiple launch rocket system to Ukraine. Some analysts have said HIMARS can be a "game-changer" in the war. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl stated that the US would be able to send more systems as the fighting evolves.
On 10 June, an official from the Ukrainian military said that they were using 5,000 to 6,000 artillery rounds a day and were then using 155-calibre NATO standard shells because all their Soviet-era guns had been destroyed. The official said the Russians had transformed the war into an artillery duel focused on the southeast of the country. On 12 June, a Ukrainian Presidential advisor put on Twitter a list of weapons that Ukraine needs to achieve "heavy weapons parity". The top item is "1000 howitzers caliber 155 mm".
Ukraine claims it has enough 155 mm ammunition, it lacks the artillery to use it. According to Oryxspioenkop only 250 howitzers have been promised or delivered. On 13 June, a Deutsche Welle correspondent said that the Ukrainian supply of Soviet-era ammunition had been exhausted and all they had was a dwindling supply obtained from friendly ex-Soviet countries.
In June 2022 Germany declassified its list of military aid to Ukraine.
By 21 July 2022, the EUCOM Control Center-Ukraine/International Donor Coordination Centre, or ECCU/IDCC, a joint cell which formed in March 2022, had trained 1,500 Ukrainian Armed Forces members on coalition-donated equipment.
For the 16 US-supplied HIMARS systems in Ukraine (2 August 2022), the US is providing more in munitions (additional HIMARS rocket pods in monthly installments, as well as more 155-mm howitzer shells) at a cost of $550 million for the 17th Presidential drawdown package.
The 18th US presidential drawdown package was released (8 Aug 2022), a $1 billion package including additional HIMARS rocket pods, 75,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, 20 120mm mortar systems and 20,000 rounds of 120mm mortar ammunition, National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), 1000 Javelins and hundreds of AT4 anti-tank weapons, 50 armored medical treatment vehicles, Claymore mines, C4 explosives, and medical supplies.
The 19th US presidential drawdown package (19 Aug 2022) is a $775 million package which includes additional HIMARS rocket pods, 16 105mm howitzers with 36,000 artillery rounds (this supplements the UK's past contributions of 105mm howitzers), 1000 anti-armor Javelins, 2000 anti-armor rounds which are for the Swedish Carl Gustaf 8.4 cm recoilless rifle, 1,500 tube-launched, optically tracked, wire guided anti-tank missiles (BGM-71 TOWs), additional AGM-88 HARM air-launched: 4:17 anti-radiation missiles which home on radar sites, 15 ScanEagles (UAVs to guide Ukrainian artillery), 40 mine flail vehicles to clear out minefields, 50 Humvees, tactical secure communication systems, demolition munitions, night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, optics and laser rangefinders.
- Ukraine security assistance package
On 24 August 2022, $3 billion in US security assistance to Ukraine comes from a congressional funding source (Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative —USAI); instead the ammunition, and other materiel, such as ScanEagle and Puma drones, and Vampire counter-drone missiles will be from suppliers, rather than by drawdown from US government stocks. This aid is for longer-term requirements by Ukraine. The longer-term deliveries of materiel include 6 additional NASAMS air defense units and their attendant rounds (for a total of 8 units); up to 245,000 155mm howitzer shells; up to 65,000 120mm mortar rounds; up to 24 counter-battery radars, and the attendant training, maintenance, and sustainment. US aid since January 2021 exceeds $13.5 billion, as of 24 August 2022.
By August 2022, the United Kingdom had provided military aid to the value of £2.3bn ($2.8bn). This included three M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, some 5,000 NLAW anti-tank missiles, "hundreds" of Brimstone missiles, 120 armoured vehicles including Mastiff Protected Patrol Vehicles, and heavy-lift drones. Additionally, 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers are being given an intensive 120-day infantry training course at four bases in Britain, delivered by a multi-national team of trainers.
On 8 September 2022, US secretary of state Blinken announced $2 billion in aid to Ukraine and eighteen partners in the defence industrial base. In addition US secretary of defense Austin announced the 20th drawdown package —up to $675 million for Ukraine military aid at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in Germany, as well as discussion of initiatives for the respective industrial bases of the Defense Contact Group, in order to defend Ukraine's sovereign territory for the long haul. On 28 September William LaPlante, US under-secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment (USD (A&S)) met in Brussels with 40 counterparts in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. On the agenda was the identification of industrial suppliers of replacement materiel such as gun barrels, ball bearings, steel casings, and microchips, without which the existing military aid will eventually cease to function due to heavy use on the battlefield.
On 28 September 2022 the US department of defense announced a USAI (Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative) package worth up to $1.1 billion which will purchase 18 additional HIMARS systems and their associated rockets from vendors in the future. Currently 16 HIMARS systems drawn from the US and an additional 10 equivalent systems from the allies are in service in Ukraine. This USAI package also includes 150 Humvees, 150 tactical vehicles, 20 multi-mission radars, explosive ordnance disposal equipment, body armor and tactical secure communications systems, surveillance systems and optics. Training for Ukrainian troops, maintenance, and sustainment are included in this long-term package, currently totaling $16.2 billion in aid since the beginning of the 2022 invasion.
- Lend-Lease for Ukraine
On 1 October 2022 Lend-Lease for Ukraine came into effect.[e] A proposal to administer US security assistance as part of EUCOM is under consideration at the Pentagon. This plan would systematise the services currently being provided to Ukraine on an ad hoc basis, and would provide a long-term vehicle for countering Russian plans under the provisions of the Lend-Lease act, and for coordinating Allied aid for Ukraine's defense with Ukrainian requests at a single point of contact in Wiesbaden, Germany.
Foreign military involvement
Although NATO and the EU have taken a strict policy of "no boots on the ground" in support against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 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 defence of Ukraine, Europe and the world".
Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that as of 6 March, approximately 20,000 foreign nationals from 52 countries have volunteered to fight. Most of these volunteers joined the newly created International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine. On 9 June, the Donetsk People's Republic sentenced three foreign volunteers to death. Two of them were British citizens and one was a Moroccan national.
On 3 March, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov warned that mercenaries are not entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions, and captured foreign fighters would not be considered prisoners of war, but prosecuted as criminals. Shortly thereafter, however, 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. A video uploaded online showed armed Central African paramilitaries preparing to fight in Ukraine with Russian troops.
Foreign sanctions and ramifications
Western countries and others imposed limited sanctions on Russia when it recognised Donbas as an independent nation. When the attack began, many other countries applied sanctions intended to cripple the Russian economy. The sanctions targeted individuals, banks, businesses, monetary exchanges, bank transfers, exports, and imports. The sanctions cut major Russian banks from SWIFT, the global messaging network for international payments, but left some limited accessibility to ensure the continued ability to pay for gas shipments. Sanctions also included asset freezes on the Russian Central Bank, which holds $630 billion in foreign-exchange reserves, to prevent it from offsetting the impact of sanctions and froze the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. By 1 March, total Russian assets frozen by sanctions amounted to $1 trillion.
Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), warned that the conflict posed a substantial economic risk both regionally and internationally. The IMF could help other countries affected, she said, in addition to the $2.2 billion loan package for Ukraine. David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group, warned of far-reaching economic and social effects, and reported that the bank was preparing options for significant economic and fiscal support to Ukraine and the region.
Economic sanctions affected Russia from the first day of the invasion, with its stock market falling by up to 39% (RTS Index). The Russian ruble fell to record lows, and Russians rushed to exchange currency. Stock exchanges in Moscow and Saint Petersburg closed until at least 18 March, the longest closure in Russia's history. 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. On 11 April, S&P Global placed Russia under "selective default" on its foreign debt for insisting on payments in rubles. Dozens of corporations, including Unilever, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Hermès, Chanel, and Prada ceased trading in Russia.
Peace talks and stability of international borders were discussed during the week of 9 May within both Sweden and Finland when their parliaments applied to become full members of NATO.
On 24 March, Joe Biden's administration issued an executive order, which barred the sale of Russian gold reserves in the international market. Gold has been one of Russia's major avenues to protect its economy from the impact of the sanctions imposed since the 2014 annexation of Crimea. In April 2022, Russia supplied 45% of EU's natural gas imports, earning $900 million a day. Russia is the world's largest exporter of natural gas, grains, and fertilisers, and among the world's largest suppliers of crude oil, coal, steel and metals, including palladium, platinum, gold, cobalt, nickel, and aluminium.
In May 2022, the European Commission proposed a ban on oil imports from Russia. With European policy-makers deciding to replace Russian fossil fuel imports with other fossil fuels imports and European coal energy production, as well as due to Russia being "a key supplier" of materials used for "clean energy technologies", the reactions to the war may also have an overall negative impact on the climate emissions pathway. Due to the sanctions imposed on Russia, Moscow is now looking to capitalise on alternative trade routes as the country has practically broken all logistic corridors for trade.
The Russia–EU gas dispute flared up in March 2022. On 14 June, Russia's Gazprom announced that it would be slashing gas flow via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, due to what it claimed to be Siemens' failure to return on time compressor units that had been sent off to Canada for repair. The explanation was challenged by Germany's energy regulator.
On 17 June, president Putin spoke to investors at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum about economic sanctions, saying that "the economic blitzkrieg against Russia had no chance of succeeding from the very beginning". He further claimed that the sanctions would hurt the countries imposing them more than they would hurt Russia, calling the restrictions "mad and thoughtless". He said to the investors: "Invest here. It's safer in your own house. Those who didn't want to listen to this have lost millions abroad".
In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Estonia has removed a remaining Soviet era monument from a square in Narva. After its removal Estonia was subject to "the most extensive cyberattack" since the 2007 cyberattacks on Estonia.
On 25 August 2022, president Zelensky thanked president Biden for the $3 billion USAI security aid package (24 August 2022), as well as the $3 billion World Bank financial aid package for Ukraine. On 2 September, president Biden requested $13.7 billion "for equipment, intelligence support and direct budgetary support" to Ukraine from Congress.
Foreign condemnation and protest
The invasion received widespread international condemnation and protests occurred around the world. On 2 March, the United Nations General Assembly passed UNGA resolution ES-11/1 condemning the invasion and demanding 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 sanctions on Russia, which have affected the economies of Russia and the world, and provided humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. The International Criminal Court opened an investigation into crimes against humanity in Ukraine since 2013, as well as war crimes in the 2022 invasion.
Field casualties and injuries
Combat deaths can be inferred from a variety of sources, including satellite imagery and video footage of military actions. Both Russian and Ukrainian sources are widely considered to inflate casualty numbers in opposing forces, while downplaying their own losses for the sake of morale. Russian news outlets have largely stopped reporting the Russian death toll. Russia and Ukraine admitted to suffering "significant" and "considerable" losses, respectively. BBC News reported in April 2022 that Ukrainian claims of Russian fatalities included the injured as well. Agence France-Presse, 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.
The number of civilian and military deaths is impossible to determine with precision given the fog of war. 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 has been able to certify. On 16 June, the Ukrainian Minister of Defense told CNN that he believed tens of thousands of Ukrainians had died, adding that he hoped that the true death toll was below 100,000. In the destroyed city of Mariupol alone, Ukrainian officials believe at least 22,000 have been killed, but investigations of morgue records indicate many more, while still more bodies remain uncollected.
|Breakdown||Confirmed casualties||Time period||Source|
|Civilians||5,996 killed, 8,848 wounded[f]
(378 killed in DPR/LPR areas)
|24 February – 25 September 2022||United Nations|
|Ukrainian forces (ZSU, NGU, SBGS)||10,000 killed, 30,000 wounded||24 February – 3 June 2022||Ukrainian government|
|Ukrainian forces (ZSU)||≈9,000 killed||24 February – 21 August 2022||Ukrainian government|
(VSRF, Rosgvardiya, FSB)
|6,756 killed (conf. by name,
possibly 40–60% lower than total buried in Russia)
|24 February – 23 September 2022||BBC News Russian & Mediazona|
|Russian forces (VSRF)||5,937 killed||24 February – 21 September 2022||Russian government|
|Donetsk People's Republic forces||3,138 killed, 13,270 wounded||26 February – 22 September 2022||Donetsk People's Republic[g]|
|Luhansk People's Republic forces||500–600 killed||24 February – 5 April 2022||Russian government[h]|
|Breakdown||Estimated & claimed casualties||Time period||Source|
|Civilians||7,000–28,737+ killed[i]||24 February – 22 September 2022||Ukrainian government|
|1,047 killed, 3,348 wounded||17 February – 22 September 2022||DPR[j] and LPR|
(ZSU, NGU, SBGS)
|61,207 killed and 49,368 wounded||24 February – 21 September 2022||Russian government|
|Russian and other forces|
(VSRF, Rosgvardiya, FSB,
PMC Wagner, DPR & LPR)
|15,000 killed, 45,000 wounded||24 February – 20 July 2022||US, UK & Estonian estimates|
|70,000–80,000 killed and wounded
|24 February – 8 August 2022||US estimate|
|60,430 killed, 98,000–117,000 wounded||24 February – 3 October 2022||Ukrainian government|
Prisoners of war
Official statistics and estimates of prisoners of war (POW) have varied. In the initial stages of the invasion, on 24 February, Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the US, said that a platoon of the 74th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade from Kemerovo Oblast surrendered, saying they were unaware that they had been brought to Ukraine and tasked with killing Ukrainians. Russia claimed to have captured 572 Ukrainian soldiers by 2 March 2022, while Ukraine claimed 562 Russian soldiers were being held as prisoners as of 20 March, with 10 previously reported released in a prisoner exchange for five Ukrainian soldiers and the mayor of Melitopol.
A report by The Independent on 9 June cited an intelligence report estimating that more than 5,600 Ukrainian soldiers had been captured, while the number of Russian servicemen being held as prisoners had fallen to 550, from 900 in April, following several prisoner exchanges. In contrast, the Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper claimed 1,000 Russian soldiers were being held as prisoners as of 20 June.
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. On 1 April, 86 Ukrainian servicemen were exchanged for an unknown number of Russian troops.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
On 25 August, research conducted by the Yale School of Public Health's Humanitarian Research Lab and the Conflict Observatory have located some 21 filtration camps in Russian-controlled Donetsk. These camps are alleged to be run by Russian and Russian allied forces. These sites are used for Ukrainian "civilians, POWs, and other personnel". With these camps being used for four main purposes: "1) registration points, 2) camps and other holding facilities for those awaiting registration, 3) interrogation centers, and 4) correctional colonies". There are also satellite pictures indicating disturbed earth, which researchers say is consistent with graves. Kaveh Khoshnood, a professor at the Yale's School of Public Health's, said: "Incommunicado detention of civilians is more than a violation of international humanitarian law — it represents a threat to the public health of those currently in the custody of Russia and its proxies. The conditions of confinement documented in this report allegedly include insufficient sanitation, shortages of food and water, cramped conditions, and reported acts consistent with torture."
The war caused the largest refugee and humanitarian crisis within Europe since the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s; the UN described it as the fastest-growing such crisis since World War II. As Russia built up military forces along the Ukrainian border, many neighbouring governments and aid organisations prepared for a mass displacement event in the weeks before the invasion. In December 2021, the Ukrainian defence minister estimated that an invasion could force three to five million people to flee their homes.
In the first week of the invasion, the UN reported over a million refugees had fled Ukraine; this subsequently rose to over 7,405,590 by 24 September, a reduction from over eight million due to some refugees' return. On 20 May, NPR reported that, following a significant influx of foreign military equipment into Ukraine, a significant number of refugees are seeking to return to regions of Ukraine which are relatively isolated from the invasion front in south-eastern Ukraine. However, by 3 May, another 8 million people were displaced inside Ukraine.
Most refugees were women, children, the elderly, or people with disabilities. Most male Ukrainian nationals aged 18 to 60 were denied exit from Ukraine as part of mandatory conscription, unless they were responsible for the financial support of three or more children, single fathers, or were the parent/guardian of children with disabilities. Many Ukrainian men, including teenagers, in any case opted to remain in Ukraine to join the resistance.
Regarding destinations, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees, as of 13 May, there were 3,315,711 refugees in Poland, 901,696 in Romania, 594,664 in Hungary, 461,742 in Moldova, 415,402 in Slovakia, and 27,308 in Belarus, while Russia reported it had received over 800,104 refugees. As of 23 March, over 300,000 refugees had arrived in the Czech Republic. Turkey has been another significant destination, registering more than 58,000 Ukrainian refugees as of 22 March, and more than 58,000 as of 25 April. 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.
Ukraine has accused Russia of forcibly moving civilians to "filtration centers" in Russian-held territory, and then into Russia. Ukrainian sources have compared this policy to Soviet-era population transfers and Russian actions in the Chechen War of Independence. As of 8 April, Russia claimed to have evacuated about 121,000 Mariupol residents to Russia. RIA Novosti and Ukrainian officials said that thousands were dispatched to various centers in cities in Russia and Russian-occupied Ukraine, from which people were sent to economically depressed regions of Russia. In April, Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council secretary Oleksiy Danilov said Russia planned to build "concentration camps" for Ukrainians in western Siberia, and that it likely planned to force prisoners build new cities in Siberia.[k]
A second refugee crisis created by the invasion and by the Russian government's suppression of human rights has been the flight of more than 300,000 Russian political refugees and economic migrants, the largest exodus from Russia since the October Revolution of 1917, to countries such as the Baltic states, Finland, Georgia, Turkey, and Central Asia. By 22 March, it was estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 high-tech workers had left the country, and that 70,000 to 100,000 more might follow. Fears arose in Russia over the effect of this flight of talent on economic development. Some Russian refugees sought to oppose Putin and help Ukraine from outside their country, and some faced discrimination for being Russian. There has also been an exodus of millionaires. On 6 May, The Moscow Times, citing data from the FSB, reported that almost four million Russians had left the country, although this figure included travellers for business or tourism. Russia's partial mobilization of 300,000 men in September prompted approximately 200,000 more Russians to flee the country.
Impact on international food supplies
Ukraine is among the world's top agricultural producers and exporters and is often described as the "breadbasket of Europe". At the start of the invasion, Russian ground forces quickly overran Ukraine's Azov Sea coast and its Black Sea coast east of the city of Kherson, while the Russian navy imposed a blockade of Ukraine's ports and threatened an amphibious assault against the port city of Odesa. This prevented the export of Ukraine's 2021 grain harvest by sea, triggering a major international food crisis. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization warned in March that global food prices could rise by up to 20% as a result of the war.
Ukraine and partner countries made efforts to increase land exports, but this was unable to compensate for the lost sea shipping capacity. Additionally, Ukraine accused Russia of stealing "hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grain" from grain elevators and other storage facilities throughout occupied Ukraine, and transporting the grain to occupied ports for export. The defeat of Russian forces on Snake Island on 30 June offered partial relief, with Ukraine opening two ports, Reni and Izmail, along the Danube River.
On 22 July, the United Nations and Turkey brokered an agreement between Russian and Ukraine to allow the safe export of Ukrainian grain by sea, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative. On 1 August, the first vessel with grain left Odesa, and by 26 August, according to President Zelenskyy, 1 million tonnes of grain had been exported by Ukraine under the deal.
Crimes against cultural heritage
As of late May, Russian forces had destroyed or damaged 250 museums and institutions in Ukraine. 2,000 art objects are estimated to have been looted, and special squads exist to track down and expropriate antiquities such as Scythian artefacts from archaeological digs, to relocate to Russia. Notable heritage sites destroyed during the invasion include the Sviatohirsk Lavra in Donbas and the house of Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in Trostyanets.
The invasion received widespread international condemnation from governments and intergovernmental organisations, with political reactions including new sanctions imposed on Russia, which triggered widespread economic effects on the Russian and world economies. The European Union and other Western governments financed and delivered humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. The bloc also implemented various economic sanctions, including a ban on Russian aircraft using EU airspace, a SWIFT ban on certain Russian banks, and a ban on certain Russian media outlets. Reactions to the invasion have varied considerably across a broad spectrum of concerns including public response, media responses, peace efforts, and the examination of the legal implications of the invasion.
The invasion received widespread public condemnation internationally, while in some countries, certain sectors expressed sympathy or outright support for Russia due in part to distrust of US foreign policy. Protests and demonstrations were held worldwide, including some in Russia and parts of Ukraine occupied by Russia. Calls for a boycott of Russian goods spread on social media platforms, while hackers attacked Russian websites, particularly those operated by the Russian government. Anti-Russian sentiment against Russians living abroad surged after the invasion.
- 2020s commodities boom
- 2022 in Russia
- 2022 in Ukraine
- 2022 Russian and Ukrainian tornado outbreak
- List of interstate wars since 1945
- List of invasions and occupations of Ukraine
- List of military engagements during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
- List of ongoing armed conflicts
- List of wars between Russia and Ukraine
- Post-Soviet conflicts
- Timeline of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
- The Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic are separatist states that declared their independence in May 2014. They received international recognition from each other, Russia, some UN member states and partially recognised states. On 30 September 2022, Russia formally annexed both states, claiming its territory.
- Russian forces were permitted to stage part of the invasion from Belarusian territory. Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko also stated that Belarusian troops could take part in the invasion if needed, and Belarusian territory was used to launch missiles into Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have claimed that Belarusian troops have entered Ukraine. See also: Belarusian involvement in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
- Outside of Ukraine, there was spillover into the Russian cities of Millerovo, Belgorod, Klimovo, and Otradny in the Belgorodsky District of Belgorod Oblast. See also: 2022 Western Russia attacks
- Denoted the Ukraine Contact Group
- First day of the fiscal year of the US government.
- Confirmed figure by source, not final (confirmations ongoing), estimates are higher.
- The DPR stated 3,151 of its servicemen were killed and 13,320 wounded between 1 January and 22 September 2022, of which 13 died and 50 were wounded between 1 January and 25 February 2022, leaving a total of 3,138 killed and 13,270 wounded in the period of the Russian invasion.
- Russia stated 1,500 DPR and LPR servicemen were killed 24 Feb.–5 April 2022. Taking into account that officially confirmed DPR losses were 979 killed 26 Feb.–7 April 2022, it can be estimated 500–600 LPR servicemen died 24 Feb.–5 April 2022.
- See table here for a detailed breakdown of civilian deaths by oblast, according to Ukrainian authorities.
- The DPR stated 960 of its civilians were killed and 3,088 wounded between 1 January and 22 September 2022, of which 8 died and 23 were wounded between 1 January and 25 February 2022, leaving a total of 952 killed and 3,065 wounded in the period of the Russian invasion.
- Most likely, new cities meant new industrial cities in Siberia, the construction plans of which were announced by Shoigu in the fall of 2021.
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Nov. 28 – ... 'Russia has never hatched, is not hatching and will never hatch any plans to attack anyone,' Peskov said. ... 19 Jan – ... Ryabkov ... 'We do not want and will not take any action of aggressive character. We will not attack, strike, invade, quote unquote, whatever Ukraine.'
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On Sunday ... "There is no invasion. There is no such plans," Antonov said.
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