Russia invaded Ukraine early on February 24, sparking the worst conflict in Europe in decades.

As the two powers sign a deal to resume grain shipments across the Black Sea, we look back at nearly five months of war that have killed tens of thousands of civilians.

– Invasion –

Russian President Vladimir Putin announces on February 24 a “special military operation” to “demilitarise” and “de-Nazify” the former Soviet state and protect Russian speakers there.

A full-scale invasion starts with air and missile strikes on several cities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pledges to stay in Kyiv to lead the resistance.

– Massive sanctions –

Two days later the West adopts unprecedented sanctions against Russia and offers Ukraine military aid.


Air spaces are closed to Russian aircraft and Russia is kicked out of sporting and cultural events.

– Nuclear threat –

Putin on February 27 puts Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert, in an apparent warning to the West not to intervene.

– First talks –

During the first peace talks a day later, Russia demands recognition of its sovereignty over Crimea, the “demilitarisation” and “de-Nazification” of Ukraine and a guarantee Ukraine will never join NATO. Ukraine demands a complete Russian withdrawal.

– Kherson falls –

Russian troops attack Ukraine’s south coast, seeking to link up territory held by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine with the Russian-annexed Crimea peninsula.

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On March 3, Kherson becomes the first southern city to fall.

– Mariupol theatre razed –

Russia strikes a Mariupol theatre on March 16, killing an estimated 300 people sheltering inside. Moscow blames the attack on Ukraine’s nationalist Azov battalion.

– Horror in Bucha –

A month into fighting, Russia withdraws from northern Ukraine, announcing it will focus on conquering the eastern industrial Donbas region.

On April 2 and 3, Ukrainians find dozens of corpses of civilians scattered on the street or buried in shallow graves in the Kyiv suburb Bucha, which Russian forces had occupied.


Moscow dismisses accusations of war crimes, saying the images of the bodies are fakes.

– ‘Genocide’ –

US President Joe Biden on April 12 accuses Russia of “genocide”.

– Flagship sinks –

On April 14 Ukrainian missiles hit and sink Russia’s missile cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea, a major setback for Moscow.

– $40 billion in US aid –

US lawmakers on May 11 back a huge $40-billion package of military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

– Battle for Mariupol ends –

Russia declares on May 21 that it is in full control of the southern port city after Ukraine ordered troops holding out for weeks in the Azovstal steelworks to lay down their arms.

Nearly 2,500 soldiers surrender and are taken prisoner by Russia.

– EU bans most Russian oil –

EU leaders overcome resistance from Hungary to agree on May 30 to halt most Russian oil imports by the end of the year.

The deal allows landlocked countries such as Hungary to continue receiving Russian oil by pipeline.


– EU grants Ukraine candidate status –

EU leaders on June 23 accept Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova as candidates for EU membership.

On June 29, NATO leaders invite Finland and Sweden to join, reversing decades of the nordic countries’ military non-alignment.

– Russia looks beyond east –

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announces on July 20 that the Kremlin’s military aims in Ukraine are no longer focused “only” on the country’s east.

– Grain deal –

Kyiv and Moscow on July 22 sign a deal in Istanbul to unblock grain exports across the Black Sea and relieve a global food crisis.

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