Timeline of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict

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The past month has seen devastation as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has killed thousands and displaced millions.

In February, Putin announced that he was conducting a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine, claiming the objective of stopping a genocide against the Russian people and leading the “de-Nazification” of the Kyiv regime. These statements came as a false flag maneuver by Russia to justify an invasion of Ukraine, which began the same day of the announcement.

Putin ended his announcement with a stark warning to the world, shown above, that has left many unsure of what the future might bear.

“Whoever would try to stop us and further create threats to our country, to our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and lead you to such consequences that you have never faced in your history,” stated Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 24, 2022.

Since the announcement, Russian forces have pushed into Ukraine on several fronts. Putin’s objectives remain unclear as to what he seeks from the conflict, and much speculation has occurred as to why. The invasion comes as the first major conflict seen in Europe since World War II, and it has displaced over four million people to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.

The rising tension has led to many fears of a possible third world war. Russia’s announcement stating that it has placed its nuclear defense forces on higher alert has exacerbated these worries. Many in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization fear what could occur in the fog of war.

Current Timeline

As of March 31, 2022

Russian troops began to move to Ukraine’s border back in November of 2021. On Nov. 28, Ukraine reported that about 94,000 Russian troops had begun to mass near their border. From there, Putin demanded assurances on Dec. 17 that Ukraine would never join NATO, and that the organization limited its joint exercises on their border. Both requests were denied.

From Jan. 17 through Feb. 17, Putin ordered more troops to the Ukraine border, along with sending troops into Russia’s neighboring ally, Belarus. On Jan. 19, the U.S. began to send aid to Ukraine in order to bolster its defenses, then NATO decided to place troops on standby on Jan. 24. The following day, Russia began moving in its air force. On Feb. 10, Russia and Belarus participated in war games; the fighting with Russian separatists in Ukraine began to escalate on Feb. 17.

On Feb. 21, Putin gave an address recognizing two breakaway states in Ukraine; this effectively began the invasion of Ukraine, as Russian claims were now at odds with Ukraine.

On Feb. 24, 2022, Putin initiated his invasion of Ukraine, sending thousands of troops into Ukraine on three fronts.

“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” President Joe Biden said in a statement given on the day of the invasion. “Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring. … The world will hold Russia accountable.”

The international community has imposed heavy sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The impact has left the Russian economy in shambles, with the Russian ruble collapsing in value; shrinking to less than a USD cent. Several companies such as General Motors and Apple have also barred their business in Russia, along with many others.

Since the start of the invasion, the Russian military has conducted operations in Ukraine on several fronts, from the north toward the capital city of Kyiv, from the east toward the Donbas region — previously occupied by Russian separatist forces — and from the south up through Crimea — which was seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Russia has bombed, struck and advanced in Ukraine, taking losses without much progress in what many believed was a forgone conclusion for Ukraine to be defeated. However, in the days since the invasion, Russian forces have run out of gas and food, as logistical issues have plagued the Russian advance, according to NPR.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have been unforgiving in the defense of their nation. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy — who remained in the capital city of Kyiv after the invasion began — has been fierce in his defiance of Russian aggression. When offered an evacuation by the U.S., Zelenskyy reportedly said, “I don’t need a ride, I need more ammunition.”

Military casualty reports have varied depending on the source. However, reports by outlets have placed the Russian military losses to be around 7,000. However, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, as the situation is ongoing and numbers are estimates and not concrete.

U.N. figures have put civilian casualties at nearly 3,200 (1,100 dead, 1,900 injured). According to the report, most of these casualties were caused by, “the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes.”

With reports such as these, allegations have been levied against Russia that they are deliberately bombing civilian targets. The International Criminal Court opened an investigation into possible Russian war crimes on Feb. 28.

“I have reviewed [the court’s] conclusions arising from the preliminary examination of the situation in Ukraine,” said Karim A.A. Khan, prosecutor for the ICC. “[I] have confirmed that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with opening an investigation. In particular, I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine in relation to the events already assessed during the preliminary examination by the [court].”

On Feb. 27, Ukraine and Russia agreed to meet in Belarus to hold talks between the two countries. Zelenskyy stated, “I do not believe much in the result of this meeting but let them try so that not a single Ukrainian citizen has doubts that I as president did not try to stop the war when there was a chance.”

On March 4, Russians struck the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, starting a fire around the surrounding facilities. The fire was extinguished and the reactor shut down: it fell to Russian control the next day, along with the city of Kherson the day previous.

NATO’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, announced that NATO would not impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine on March 4.

“The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO planes, fighter planes, into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” Stoltenberg said. “If we did that, we’ll end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering.”

President Zelenskyy reacted to the NATO summit by saying that it was a “weak” and a “confused summit.” He noted that it seemed no one considered that this was a battle for Europe’s freedom. “All the people who will die starting from this day will also die because of [NATO]. Because of your weakness. Because of your disunity,” Zelenskyy said. “Today the leadership of [NATO] gave the green light for further bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages.”

On March 5, Russia announced a ceasefire that would allow for citizens to be evacuated from the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha, however, these terms were not followed as Russia continued its bombing raids and advances on both cities.

On March 6, U.S. secretary of state Anthony Blinken discussed the possibility of instating a ban on Russian oil, a cornerstone of the Russian economy.

From March 7 to March 9, Russian forces captured several cities including Vasylivka, Tokmak, and Polony. Mayors were also taken captive by Russian forces.

On March 9, Poland offered to send over its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, however, this required the U.S. to deliver them. The U.S. refused to do so, citing that it could bring an escalation on the part of the U.S. in the conflict.

March 13, saw NATO alarmed when several Russian cruise missiles struck a Ukrainian base just 20 miles from the Ukraine-Poland border.

On March 16, Ukrainian officials announced over Twitter that they had begun a counter-offensive against Russian forces in Kyiv. Later that day, bombs were dropped in Mariupol on a regional theater sheltering 1,000 civilians, identified outside with giant depictions of the Russian word for children; this was done reportedly to mark it as a non-military station.

Taking place March 20, the Kyiv shopping center was hit by a Russian cruise missile, Reuters reported that it killed eight people.

March 26, saw a speech by President Biden where he made a controversial comment that Putin shouldn’t remain in power, saying, “For god’s sake, this man [Putin] cannot remain in power.”

On March 29, during the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, Ukrainian diplomats suggested adopting a neutral status in exchange for security guarantees based on NATO’s article five. These guarantees would fall on nations that would be willing to guarantee their security and wouldn’t come from NATO itself.

Events are ongoing, and this timeline can only reflect what was known at the time of being written. The Review will continue to update as events occur.