Russia-Ukraine war set to complete 500 days: A brief timeline of the conflict

The Russia-Ukraine war began on February 24, 2022.
Image source: AP The Russia-Ukraine war began on February 24, 2022.

The Russia-Ukraine war, an unprecedented conflict that has engulfed almost the entire world, is about to complete 500 days this weekend. Thousands of military personnel and civilians have lost their lives in intense fighting and countless bombings and missile attacks since Russia’s military invaded Ukraine last year.

The war began as a result of rising tensions following Ukraine’s membership bid in the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which threatened Russia’s territorial reach. The Russian offensive did not go as smoothly as President Vladimir Putin had planned, as they faced stiff resistance from Ukrainian troops and a strong response from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

So far, Ukraine is struggling to launch a large-scale counteroffensive to repel Russian forces in key cities, including Bakhmut, while Russia continues to launch a barrage of military and drone strikes to paralyze Ukrainian forces. Ukraine has received aid from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, and other NATO member states.

Here’s a brief timeline of the war, 16 months after the Russian invasion.

February 24, 2022: Putin announced a special military operation in Ukraine intended to ‘demilitarize’ and ‘unintegrate’ the country to protect ethnic Russians, effectively launching the invasion. Western countries and Ukraine declared it an illegal invasion and Russian military attempts to capture major cities and the capital Kiev were strongly opposed.

March 2, 2022: Russian forces managed to capture the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine and a significant area of ​​the neighboring Zaporizhia region. His attempts to capture Kiev were thwarted.

March 16, 2022: In one of the deadliest attacks of the war, Russian forces bombed the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol, killing over 600 people. Several groups called the strike a war crime.

April 9, 2022: Russia launched a missile attack on a railway station in Kramatorsk, resulting in the deaths of 52 people and injuries to over 100 others.

April 13, 2022: In a major breakthrough for Ukraine, its military claimed to have attacked the 500-crew missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. However, Russia said that the ship sank after the explosion.

May 16, 2022: The area of ​​Mariupol was occupied by Russian forces as the last remaining Ukrainian troops surrendered, securing a land corridor to Moscow.

June 30, 2022: Russian forces withdraw from Snake Island in the Black Sea after a ‘successful operation’. The island was occupied early in the war. Russia claimed the move as a gesture of goodwill and facilitation of grain exports.

July 29, 2022: A prison holding Ukrainian prisoners of war in the town of Olenivka in the Donetsk region was destroyed in a missile attack, killing more than 50 inmates. Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for the attack.

August 20, 2022: Daria Dugina, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a Russian nationalist ideologue and close ally of President Vladimir Putin, died in a car explosion that was originally planned to kill Alexander. Also known as ‘Putin’s brain’, Alexander Dugin is a leading proponent of the “Russian world” ideology and a strong supporter of Russia sending troops to Ukraine.

September 6, 2022: The Ukrainian army launched a counteroffensive that caught the Russians by surprise and recaptured several areas of the Kharkiv region.

November 9, 2022: Russian forces were ordered to retreat from the Ukrainian city of Kherson, the only regional capital they held at the time, dealing a major blow to the Russian offensive.

December 21, 2022: Ukrainian President Zelensky visited the US for the first time since the war and met US President Joe Biden to secure advanced air defense missile systems, among other weapons. America also announced financial assistance to Ukraine.

January 1, 2023: The Ukrainian military launched a missile attack on the town of Makiivka, where Russia claimed 89 of its soldiers were killed. However, the Ukrainian military claimed that around 400 Russian soldiers were killed in the attack.

January 12, 2023: Russia captured the salt-mining of Soledar, its first victory after a series of setbacks in the war. Nevertheless, Ukrainian officials insisted that the fight for the hotly disputed city would continue.

February 20, 2023: US President Biden made a surprise visit to Kiev and met with Zelensky to reiterate solidarity with Ukrainian forces. He also announced $500 million in aid to Ukraine, which includes spears, howitzers and artillery ammunition.

24 February 2023: On the anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) suspended Russia’s membership for “illegal, unprovoked and unwarranted” aggression.

March 25, 2023: Putin threatened to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus as Western support for Ukraine continues to grow, particularly because of Britain’s decision to provide armor-piercing rounds to Kiev.

May 14, 2023: Two military helicopters and two Russian warplanes were shot down near the Ukrainian border.

May 20, 2023: Russia’s private military group Wagner claimed that its forces had taken control of the eastern city of Bakhmut. Ukrainian officials denied the claims of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.

May 28, 2023: Russia launched its biggest ever drone attack on Ukraine’s capital Kiev on the occasion of the anniversary of its founding. Several drones were shot down and one person died in the attack.

June 4, 2023: The Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have killed 250 Ukrainian soldiers and destroyed several combat vehicles in a ‘massive’ retaliatory attack in Donetsk province.

June 6, 2023: Ukraine accused Russia of blowing up the Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper River in territory controlled by Moscow, while Russia blamed the Ukrainian bombing. The bombardment caused widespread flooding and endangered the supply of drinking water for both sides.

June 18, 2023: Ukraine has taken control of the village of Pyatikhatki on the Zaporizhia battleground, according to a statement by Vladimir Rogov, an official from the Moscow-appointed administration in the region.

June 24, 2023: In a major blow to Putin, the head of the Wagner Group staged an armed rebellion and warned the government to topple the country’s defense ministry. Wagner’s troops marched into the city of Rostov-on-Don and took control of key military facilities before marching on Voronezh. The Russian president called it a “stab in the back” and warned of “brutal” action against rebel soldiers.

June 25, 2023: Less than 24 hours after the uprising, Wagner chief Prigozhin halted his operation after reaching an agreement with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. He insisted that the decision was made to avoid ‘bloodshed’ in Russia and that he would move with his troops to Belarus.

June 27, 2023: In one of the deadliest recent Russian attacks, two Russian missiles struck a popular pizza restaurant in the city of Kramatorsk, killing 11 people, including four children. 56 people were injured in the attack.

July 6, 2023: Another Russian missile attack killed 10 people and injured 42 others in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Dozens of missile attacks and bombardments have turned vast swaths of Ukrainian territory into smoking ruins, severely affecting security and civilian life.

So far, Iran is the only country to openly support Russia, reportedly supplying combat drones to Moscow. There are rumors that China is secretly providing aid to Moscow in the midst of its confrontation with the US. The Putin administration has also described China as one of its key allies.

India has remained neutral in the conflict and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly called for peace between the two regions in his meetings with Putin.

(with inputs from agencies)

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