Russia invaded Ukraine early on February 24, sparking Europe’s worst conflict in decades.
We look back on six months of war that killed tens of thousands of civilians.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announces on February 24, 2022 a “special military operation” to protect the Russian-speaking self-proclaimed separatist republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, whose independence he has just recognized.
He says he wants to “denazify” Ukraine, a former Soviet state, and demands a guarantee that it will never join NATO.
The full-scale invasion begins with air and missile strikes on several cities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to stay in Kyiv to lead the resistance.
The European Union announced for the first time arms deliveries to Ukraine. The West is imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russia, which are tightening over time.
Russian troops are attacking Ukraine’s southern coast, capturing most of the strategic Kherson region, which is crucial for agriculture and important because of its proximity to Russia’s annexed Crimean peninsula.
On March 3, Kherson, the capital of the same name, became the first southern city to fall.
Russian troops are seeking to encircle the capital Kyiv and capture Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, in the northeast, but are meeting resistance.
A month after the fighting began, Russia is pulling out of northern Ukraine, saying it will focus on capturing the eastern industrial region of Donbas, partly held by separatists, along with the south.
On April 2 and 3, the bodies of dozens of civilians were found scattered on the streets or buried in shallow graves in the Kiev suburb of Bucha, which Russian forces had occupied.
The International Criminal Court begins an investigation.
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Mariupol was captured
Russia has been besieging the strategic southeastern port city of Mariupol since the start of its invasion.
On May 21, Russia announced it was in full control of the city after Ukraine ordered troops holed up for weeks at the Azovstal steel plant to lay down their arms.
Nearly 2,500 soldiers surrendered and were captured by Russia.
Kyiv claims that Mariupol was 90 percent destroyed and that at least 20,000 people were killed there. EU denounces “major war crime”.
On July 22, Kyiv and Moscow signed an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in Istanbul to resume grain exports in a bid to ease the global food crisis caused by Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s ports.
The first official grain shipment since the invasion left the port of Odessa on August 1 with 26,000 tons of corn.
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, has about 20 million tons of grain stored in its silos.
The West accuses Moscow of using energy as a weapon of war in retaliation for massive sanctions imposed after the invasion.
Vital Russian gas exports to Europe, particularly Germany and Italy, have been cut repeatedly, while Gazprom has also halted supplies to several European customers, refusing to pay in rubles.
The battle for Donbass
On July 3, Russian forces said they were in control of the eastern Luhansk region after capturing the twin cities of Lisichansk and Severodonetsk.
Moscow forces are now seeking to capture Donetsk, the other province of Donbass.
In the cities under its control, Moscow pursued a policy of Russification with the introduction of the ruble and the issuance of Russian passports. Referendums are also planned to make the annexation by Russia official.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have been conducting a counter-offensive in southern Ukraine.
With the help of American and European heavy weaponry, they have captured dozens of villages and damaged strategic bridges in the Kherson region, Kyiv says.
Unannounced explosions at a Russian military air base and a military facility in Crimea have led experts to speculate that Kyiv may have been able to acquire or develop longer-range missiles or carry out sabotage operations.
On August 5, Russia and Ukraine accused each other of shelling the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, which is under Russian military control, raising the specter of a nuclear disaster.
The Ukrainian operator of the plant, Europe’s largest, has accused Russian forces of preparing to connect the plant to Crimea, thereby damaging its power grid.
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