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 "reaffirm[ed] 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 had pledged that NATO would not expand eastward, although this is disputed. At the
2008 Bucharest summit, Ukraine and
Georgia sought to join NATO. The response among existing members was divided, with Western European countries concerned about antagonising Russia. NATO ultimately refused to offer Ukraine and Georgia membership but also issued a statement agreeing that "these countries will become members of NATO". Vladimir Putin voiced strong opposition to the NATO membership bids, and Russian foreign minister
Sergei Lavrov said Russia would do everything it could to prevent their admittance.
Ukraine, with the annexed
Crimea in the south and two Russia-backed separatist republics in
Donbas in the east
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 USAnatoly Antonov on 20 February 2022, and Russian ambassador to the Czech Republic Alexander Zmeevsky on 23 February 2022. Meanwhile, on 22 February, the
Federation Council of Russia authorised the use of military force outside the country.
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
minister of defenceSergei Shoigu.
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 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 respective 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 he invade Ukraine. Scholz, in trying to negotiate a settlement, also told Zelenskyy to renounce aspirations to join NATO and declare neutrality; however, Zelenskyy said Putin could not be trusted to uphold such an agreement.
Putin's address to the nation on 24 February 2022. Minutes after Putin's announcement, the invasion began.
On 24 February, before 5:00 a.m. Kyiv time, Putin announced a "special military operation" in the country 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,
Odesa, and the Donbas region. Later an alleged report from Russia's
Federal Security Service (FSB) was leaked, claiming that the intelligence agency had not been aware of Putin's plan to invade Ukraine. 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
The invasion began at the 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 a.m. 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.
A third axis was 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
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 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.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with members of the Ukrainian Army on 18 June 2022
Russian forces improved their focus on the protection of supply lines by advancing slowly and methodically. They also benefited from centralising command under General Dvornikov. Ukraine's reliance on Western-supplied equipment constrained operational effectiveness, as supplying countries feared that Ukraine would use Western-made materiel to strike targets in Russia. Military experts disagreed on the future of the conflict; some suggested that Ukraine should trade territory for peace, while others believed that Ukraine could maintain its resistance thanks to the Russian losses. On 26 May 2022, the
Conflict Intelligence Team, citing reports from Russian soldiers, reported that
Colonel GeneralGennady Zhidko had been put in charge of Russian forces during the invasion, replacing Army General Dvornikov.[f]
By 30 May, disparities between Russian and Ukrainian artillery were apparent with Ukrainian artillery being vastly outgunned by range and number. In response to
US PresidentJoe Biden's indication that enhanced artillery would be provided to Ukraine, Putin indicated that Russia 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."
On 8 October, the
Russian Defence Ministry named Air Force General
Sergei Surovikin as the overall commander of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine without naming who Surovikin was replacing. By 11 January 2023, another change in high command put
Valery Gerasimov, author of the
Gerasimov doctrine, as the general in charge of the Ukrainian invasion by Russia. On 20 February,
Biden visited Kyiv in person on a diplomatic mission to assure Zelenskyy and his government of sustaining US financial and military supplies support on the eve of the end of the first year of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
First phase: Invasion of Ukraine (24 February – 7 April)
Animated map of phase 1 of the Russian invasion from 24 February to 7 April 2022
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.
“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, allegedly 25 February 2022, Associated Press
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. Around this time, the United States contacted President Zelenskyy and offered assistance with helping him flee the country, should the Russian Army attempt to kidnap or kill him upon the planned seizure of Kyiv. Zelenskyy reportedly said in response to the request to evacuate: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” according to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation. The Washington Post, who described the quote as "one of the most-cited lines of the Russian invasion", was not entirely sure of the comment's accuracy. Reporter
Glenn Kessler said it came from "a single source, but on the surface it appears to be a good one".
Russian forces advancing on Kyiv from Belarus
gained control of the ghost towns of
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.
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. One person was killed and several were injured in the attack
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.
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.
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,
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)
Animated map of phase 2 of the Russian invasion from 7 April to 5 September 2022
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 480-kilometre (300 mi) 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".
In June 2022 the chief spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defence
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
Russian Ground Forces started recruiting volunteer battalions from the regions in June 2022 to create a new
3rd Army Corps within the Western Military District, with a planned strength estimated at 15,500–60,000 personnel. Its units were deployed to the front around the time of Ukraine's 9 September
Kharkiv oblast counteroffensive, in time to join the Russian retreat, leaving behind tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and personnel carriers: the 3AC "melted away" according to Forbes, having little or no impact on the battlefield along with other irregular forces.
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
Military control around Donbas as of 23 March 2023
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 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 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.
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 Severodonetsk; several hundred civilians taking refuge in the Azot chemical plant were left behind in the withdrawal, with some comparing their plight to that of the civilians at the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol in 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
Saltivka residential area after battle of Kharkiv on 19 May 2022
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 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 Mechanised 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.
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
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".
On 7 July, it was reported that after the Russians captured the nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia earlier in the invasion, they installed heavy artillery and mobile missile launchers between the separate reactor walls of the nuclear installation, using it as a shield against possible Ukrainian counterattack. A counterattack against the installed Russian artillery sites would not be possible without the risk of radiation fallout in case of near misses. On 19 August, Russia agreed to allow IAEA inspectors access to the Zaporizhzhia plant from Ukrainian-held territory, after a phone call between Macron and 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
Enerhodar, 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.
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 12:12 p.m. 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 12:29 p.m., 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.
Third phase: Russian annexations and Ukrainian counterattacks (6 September – present)
Animated map of phase 3 of the Russian invasion from 5 September to 23 February (every third day)
On 6 September 2022, Ukrainian forces launched a surprise counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, beginning near
Balakliia. This counteroffensive was led by General Syrskyi. 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, 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".
On 8 October 2022, the
Crimean Bridge partially collapsed due to an
explosion. Russia later blamed Ukraine for the blast, and launched retaliatory
missile strikes against Ukrainian civilian areas. Since mid-October, Russia has carried out waves of strikes on Ukrainian electrical and water systems. On 15 November 2022, Russia fired 85 missiles at the Ukrainian Power Grid, causing major power outages in Kyiv and neighboring regions. A missile, initially reported to be Russian and later claimed to be "Russian-made",
crossed into Poland, killing two people in
Przewodów, which led to the top leaders of Poland holding an emergency meeting. The next day, US president Joe Biden stated that the missile that struck Polish territory was 'unlikely' to have been fired from Russia. On 31 December, Putin ordered an extensive and large missile and drone attack upon Kyiv accompanied by his declaration that he intends to increase the diplomatic ante and military ante of his special military operation against Ukraine for all Russians to now be a "sacred duty to our ancestors and descendants". By 11 January 2023, another change in high command put Valery Gerasimov as the general in charge of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. On 7 February, The New York Times reported that Russians had newly mobilised nearly 200,000 soldiers to participate in the offensive towards Nevske, against Ukraine troops already wearied by previous fighting. On 20 February
Biden visited Kyiv to assure Zelenskyy of sustaining US financial and military supplies support to Ukraine on the eve of the end of the first year of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In late September 2022, Russian-installed officials in Ukraine organised
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 denounced the annexation as illegal.
Following defeat in Kherson and Kharkiv, Russian and Wagner forces have focused on taking the city of Bakhmut and breaking the
half year long stalemate that has prevailed there since the start of the war. Russian forces have sought to encircle the city, attacking from the north via
Soledar and after taking heavy casualties during
the battle Russian and Wagner forces took control of the settlement on 16 January 2023. Attacking from the south, the Russian defence ministry and Wagner forces claimed to have captured Klishchiivka, a village located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) southwest of Bakhmut in Donetsk on 20 January, however, this has yet to be independently verified. This would mean that Bakhmut is facing attacks from North, South and East, with the sole line of supplies coming from the west via
Chasiv Yar to fend off renewed Russian assaults.
By 22 February, Russian forces encircled Bakhmut from the east, south, and north. By 3 March, Ukrainian soldiers destroyed two key bridges, creating the possibility for a controlled fighting withdrawal. On 4 March, Bakhmut's deputy mayor told news services that there was street fighting but that Russian forces had not taken control of the city. Also on 4 March, the chief of the Wagner Group said that the city was encircled except for one road still controlled by the Ukrainian military, as had been the case since 22 February. On 7 March, the New York Times reported that Ukrainian generals were requesting permission to continue fighting against the Russians in the nearly fully surrounded and besieged city.
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 3:14 a.m., 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". On 24 January 2023, The Wall Street Journal reported an intensification of fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region with both sides suffering heavy casualties.
On 6 September 2022, Ukrainian forces launched a surprise counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, beginning near Balakliia. This counteroffensive was led by General Syrskyi. 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 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.
On 4 September, 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. Ukrainian attacks also continued along the southern frontline, though reports about territorial changes were largely unverifiable. On 12 September, Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian forces had retaken a total of 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 sq mi) from Russia, in both the south and the east. The BBC stated that it could not verify these claims.
In October, Ukrainian forces pushed further south towards the city of Kherson, taking control of 1,170 square kilometres (450 sq mi) of territory, with fighting extending to
On 9 November, defence minister Shoigu ordered Russian forces to leave part of Kherson Oblast, including the city of
Kherson, and move to the eastern bank of the Dnieper. On 11 November, Ukrainian troops entered Kherson, as Russia completed its withdrawal. This meant that Russian forces no longer had a foothold on the west (right) bank of the Dnieper.
Controlled by Ukraine Occupied by Russia Map of the Kharkiv counteroffensive as of 23 March 2023
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
Ministry of Defence confirmed that Russia had either lost or withdrawn from almost all of their positions west of
Oskil river. The retreating units had also abandoned various high-value military assets. The offensive continued pushing east and by 2 October, Ukrainian Armed Forces had liberated another key city in the
Second Battle of Lyman.
By 28 January 2023, Russian forces launched renewed attacks near Chervonopopivka (6 km north of Kreminna) in the direction of Nevsky (18 km north-west of Kreminna) and Makievka (22 km north-west of Kreminna). The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled an attack by Russian infantry near Bilohorivka (12 km south of Kreminna across the Donets River). On 28 January, Ukrainian troops responded to the Russian counteroffensive with missile strikes from the HIMARS system on a hospital in the city of Novoaidar (55 km from Kreminna), killing 14 military patients and staff. On 7 February, The New York Times reported that Russians had newly mobilised nearly 200,000 newly soldiers to participate in the offensive towards Nevske, against Ukraine troops already wearied by previous fighting.
Ukrainian oblasts annexed by Russia since 2014 (
Crimea) and 2022 (others). The 2022 annexation creates the equivalent of a strategic land bridge between Crimea and Russia.
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, a major Ukrainian commander during the war, 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 Crimean 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.
On the morning of 8 October, the
Kerch Bridge, which links occupied Crimea with Russia, was hit by
a large explosion which collapsed part of the roadway and caused damage to the railway line.
A street in Kyiv following Russian missile strikes on 10 October 2022
Aerial warfare began on the first day of the invasion. By September, the Ukrainian air force was still at 80% of its prewar strength and had shot down about 55 Russian warplanes. By late December, 173 Ukrainian aircraft and UAVs were confirmed to have been shot down, whereas Russia had lost 171 aircraft. With the beginning of the invasion, dozens of missile attacks were recorded across both Eastern Ukraine and Western Ukraine. Dozens of missile strikes across Ukraine also reached as far west as Lviv. Starting in mid-October, Russian forces launched massive missile strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure, intending to knock out energy facilities throughout the country. By late November, hundreds of civilians had been killed and wounded by the attacks, and millions of civilians had been left without power due to
On 16 October, the Washington Post reported that Iran was planning to supply Russia with both drones and missiles. On 21 November, the Ukrainian defense ministry said that according to reports in the Israeli press,
Israel might respond by transferring short-range and medium-range missiles to Ukraine. On 18 October 2022 the U.S. State Department accused Iran of violating UN Resolution 2231 by selling
Shahed 131 and
Shahed 136 drones to Russia, agreeing with similar assessments by France and the United Kingdom. Iran denied sending arms for use in the Ukraine war. On 22 October France, Britain and Germany formally called for an investigation by the UN team responsible for UNSCR 2231. On 1 November, CNN reported that Iran was preparing to send ballistic missiles and other weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine. On 21 November, CNN reported that an intelligence assessment had concluded that Iran planned to help Russia begin production of Iran-designed drones in Russia. The country making the intelligence assessment was not named.
By 29 December, the Biden administration stated through diplomatic entreaties that Iran would need to curtail its supply of drones to Russia being used in its invasion of Ukraine, under the alternative that the United States would be compelled to redouble its supply of anti-drone missile intercept technology to Ukraine in order to nullify Iranian drone weaponry currently being deployed against Ukraine.
In December several attacks on Dyagilevo and Engels air bases in
Western Russia were allegedly carried out by drones launched from Ukraine causing 10 casualties in addition to heavily damaging 2
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 shipYuri 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. 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
targetingintelligence) to assist in the sinking of the 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 Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, 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 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." In January 2023,
Graham Allison, writing for Time, presented a seven-point summary of Putin's hypothetical intention to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Ukrainian civilians resisted the Russian invasion, volunteering for territorial defence units, making
Molotov cocktails, donating food, building barriers such as
Czech hedgehogs, and helping 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 has reported forced disappearances, mock executions, hostage-taking,
extrajudicial killings, and sexual violence perpetrated by the Russian military. To facilitate Ukrainian attacks, civilians reported Russian military positions via a
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.
Although Ukraine is not a member of NATO and does not have any military alliance with the United States or with any NATO nation, the
Kiel Institute has tracked $84.2 billion from the 40 countries and the European Union in financial, humanitarian, and military aid to Ukraine from 24 January to 3 August 2022. NATO is coordinating and assisting member states in providing billions of dollars in military equipment and financial aid to Ukraine. The United States has provided the most military assistance, having committed over $29.3 billion from 24 February 2022 to 3 February 2023.[g] Many NATO allies, including Germany, have reversed past policies against providing offensive military aid in order to support Ukraine. The European Union for the first time in its history supplied lethal arms and has provided €3.1 billion to Ukraine. Bulgaria, a major manufacturer of Soviet-pattern weapons, has covertly supplied more than €2 billion worth of arms and ammunition to Ukraine, including a third of the ammunition needed by the Ukrainian military in the critical early phase of the invasion; Bulgaria also provides fuel supplies and has, at times, covered 40% of the fuel needs of the Ukrainian armed forces.
Foreign involvement in the invasion has been worldwide and extensive, ranging from foreign military sales and aid, foreign military involvement, foreign sanctions and ramifications, and including foreign condemnation and protest. Although NATO and the EU have publicly taken a strict policy of "no boots on the ground" in Ukraine, the United States has significantly increased the secret involvement of special operations military and
CIA operatives in support of Ukrainian forces since the beginning of the invasion. 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.
Combat deaths can be inferred from a variety of sources, including
satellite photos and videos of military action. Both Russian and Ukrainian sources are widely believed 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 suffering "significant" and "considerable" losses, respectively.BBC News reported in April 2022 that Ukrainian claims of Russian deaths included the living injured.Agence France-Presse and independent conflict monitors could not verify Russian and Ukrainian claims of enemy losses and suspected that they were inflated.
The number of civilian and military deaths is impossible to determine precisely in the
fog of war. On 12 October 2022, the independent Russian media project
iStories reported that more than 90,000 Russian soldiers had been killed, been seriously wounded, or gone missing in Ukraine, citing sources close to the Kremlin. The
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) estimates 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 that 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 25,000 have been killed; but investigations of morgue records indicate many more, and some bodies remain uncollected.
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, Ukrayinska Pravda 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 25 August, research conducted by the Humanitarian Research Lab of the
Yale School of Public Health and the
Conflict Observatory was published which reported the identification of some 21
filtration camps in and around Russian-controlled Donetsk oblast, run by Russian and Russian allied forces and used for Ukrainian "civilians, POWs, and other personnel". These camps were allegedly used for four main purposes: as registration points; as camps and other holding facilities for those awaiting registration; as interrogation centers; and as "correctional colonies" (i.e., prisons). At
Olenivka prison, one of the identified camps, the disturbed earth seen in imagery was said by researchers to be consistent with graves. Kaveh Khoshnood, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, 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 humanitarian impact of the invasion has been extensive and has included negative impacts on international food supplies and the
2022 food crises. The invasion has also had a negative impact upon the cultural heritage of Ukraine, with over 500 Ukrainian cultural heritage sites, including cultural centers, theatres, museums, and churches, having been impacted by "Russian aggression", and Ukraine's
Minister of Culture calling it
cultural genocide. The deliberate destruction and looting of Ukrainian cultural heritage sites in this way is considered a
Ukrainian refugees in
Kraków protesting against the war, 6 March 2022
Ukrainian refugees in
Helsinki protesting against the war, 26 February 2022. The red sign reads "Russia, get out of Ukraine."
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 eight million by 31 January 2023. 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, opted to remain in Ukraine voluntarily in order 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. Britain has accepted 146,379 refugees, as well as extending the ability to remain in the UK for 3 years with broadly similar entitlements as the EU, three years residency and access to state welfare and services.
According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russia has engaged in "massive deportation" of over 1.3 million Ukrainian civilians, potentially constituting
crimes against humanity. The OSCE and Ukraine have accused Russia of
forcibly moving civilians to filtration camps 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. For instance, as of 8 April, Russia claimed to have evacuated about 121,000 Mariupol residents to Russia. Also, on 19 October, Russia announced the forced deportation of 60,000 civilians from areas around the line of contact in Kherson oblast.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 to build new cities in Siberia.[l]
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 an initial 200,000 more Russians to flee the country, rising to 400,000 by early October, double the number of those conscripted. To facilitate conscription and
militarization, on 17 January 2023, Russian authorities re-imposed the Soviet-era Moscow and Leningrad
Peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine took place on 28 February, 3 March, and 7 March 2022, in an undisclosed location in the
Gomel Region on the
Belarus–Ukraine border, with further talks held on 10 March in Turkey prior to a fourth round of negotiations which began on 14 March. The Ukrainian foreign minister
Dmytro Kuleba stated on 13 July that peace talks are frozen for the time being. On 19 July, former Russian President and current Deputy head of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, said: "Russia will achieve all its goals. There will be peace – on our terms."
Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that any peace plan can only proceed from Ukraine's recognition of Russia's sovereignty over the regions it
annexed from Ukraine in September 2022. By 29 December, following the Russian declared annexation of multiple Ukrainian oblasts, hopes for Ukrainian peace talks with Russia dimmed significantly with Russia taking a hardline position that the full Russian occupation of the four oblasts would be non-negotiable under any circumstances. In addition, Zelenskyy announced that Ukraine would not hold peace talks with Russia while Putin was president and signed a decree to ban such talks. In January 2023, Putin's spokesperson Peskov said that "there is currently no prospect for diplomatic means of settling the situation around Ukraine."
abThe Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic were Russian-controlled puppet states that declared their independence in May 2014. They received
international recognition from each other, Russia, Syria and North Korea, and some other partially recognised states. On 30 September 2022, after
a referendum, Russia declared
it had formally annexed both entities.
^Including military, paramilitary, and 34,000 separatist militias.
^A report of 5 June placed Dvornikov still in command.
^By early September 2022 the US had given 126
M777 howitzer cannons and over 800,000 rounds of 155 mm ammunition for them. By January 2023 the US had donated 250,000 more 155 mm shells to Ukraine. The US is producing 14,000 155 mm shells monthly and plans to increase production to 90,000 shells per month by 2025.
^Confirmed figure by source, not final (confirmations ongoing), estimates are higher.
^The DPR stated 4,176 of its servicemen were killed and 17,379 wounded between 1 January and 22 December 2022, of which 13 died and 50 were wounded between 1 January and 25 February 2022, leaving a total of 4,163 killed and 17,329 wounded in the period of the Russian invasion.
^See table here for a detailed breakdown of civilian deaths by oblast, according to Ukrainian authorities.
^The DPR stated 1,091 of its civilians were killed and 3,533 wounded between 1 January and 28 December 2022, of which 8 died and 23 were wounded between 1 January and 25 February 2022, leaving a total of 1,083 killed and 3,510 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.
^Brown, Colin (3 April 2008). "EU allies unite against Bush over Nato membership for Georgia and Ukraine". The Independent. p. 24.
abEvans, Michael (5 April 2008). "President tells summit he wants security and friendship". The Times. p. 46. President Putin, in a bravura performance before the world's media at the end of the Nato summit, warned President Bush and other alliance leaders that their plan to expand eastwards to Ukraine and Georgia "didn't contribute to trust and predictability in our relations.
^Dickinson, Peter; Haring, Melinda; Lubkivsky, Danylo; Motyl, Alexander; Whitmore, Brian; Goncharenko, Oleksiy; Fedchenko, Yevhen; Bonner, Brian; Kuzio, Taras (15 July 2021).
"Putin's new Ukraine essay reveals imperial ambitions".
Archived from the original on 15 July 2021. Retrieved 25 January 2021. Vladimir Putin's inaccurate and distorted claims are neither new nor surprising. They are just the latest example of gaslighting by the Kremlin leader.
^Wilson, Andrew (23 December 2021).
"Russia and Ukraine: 'One People' as Putin Claims?".
Royal United Services Institute.
Archived from the original on 24 January 2022. Retrieved 25 January 2022. Putin's key trope is that Ukrainians and Russians are 'one people', and he calls them both 'Russian'. He starts with a myth of common origin: 'Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus', which was the largest state in Europe' from the 9th–13th centuries AD.
^Fořtová, Klára (8 March 2022).
"Velvyslanec Ukrajiny v Česku denně promlouvá, ruský mlčí a je 'neviditelný'" [Ukraine's ambassador to the Czech Republic speaks daily, the Russian is silent and 'invisible']. Mladá fronta DNES (in Czech).
Archived from the original on 8 March 2022. Retrieved 10 March 2022. Zmejevský... 'Důrazně jsme odmítli jako nepodložená obvinění Ruska z přípravy, agrese vůči Ukrajině a fámy o vstupu ruských jednotek na ukrajinské území,' stojí v něm. [Zmeevsky... 'We emphatically dismissed Russia's allegations of preparation, aggression against Ukraine and rumors of Russian troops entering Ukrainian territory,' he said.]
^Lister, Tim; Pennington, Josh (24 February 2022).
"February 24, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news".
CNN. Entry: Audio emerges appearing to be of Ukrainian fighters defending island from Russian warship.
Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.