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Timeline of the Russia-Ukraine war as two-year anniversary nears

A high-rise building in Kyiv damaged in a missile strike on February 7, 2024 (Getty Images)
A high-rise building in Kyiv damaged in a missile strike on February 7, 2024 (Getty Images)

It has been almost two years since Russian forces stormed across the border into Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

In what has become a drawn-out and bloody conflict, the Ukraine-Russia war has claimed many thousands of lives, driven millions from their homes and left entire cities in ruins.

The focus has since turned to even bloodier conflict in the Middle East as Israel continues to shell occupied Palestinian territories, killing thousands of civilians.

At the same time, the military stalemate between Ukraine and Russia shows no sign of ending.

As we look toward the grim anniversary, here is a look at some of the conflict's major incidents.

2022

February 24

Ukraine is invaded by Russia from the north, east and south.

The borders of Kyiv are rapidly reached by Russian forces but they encounter fierce resistance in their attempts to take over the nation's capital and other north-eastern cities. Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, records a video outside his office to demonstrate that he is still present and in charge.

March 16

Russia strikes a theatre in the strategic port city of Mariupol, where civilians had been sheltering, killing hundreds of people in one of the war’s deadliest attacks.

April 9

Hundreds of dead civilians are found in mass graves or left in the streets of Bucha after the Russian withdrawal from Kyiv, many showing indications of torture. Pictures shared online prompt world leaders to call for Russia to be held accountable for potential war crimes.

On this day, 52 civilians are killed and more than 100 are injured when Russian missiles strike a train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk.

April 13

The Russian Black Sea Fleet's flagship, the missile cruiser Moskva, is damaged by Ukrainian missiles and sinks the day after, in a blow to the pride of the Russian leadership.

May 16

After a nearly three-month siege, Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol’s massive Azovstal steel factory, a regional Ukrainian stronghold in Donetsk, agree to submit to Russian forces.

The Azovstal steel mill seen on October 29, 2022 (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
The Azovstal steel mill seen on October 29, 2022 (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

May 18

Finland and Sweden submit bids to join Nato.

June 30

Snake Island, which is off the Black Sea city of Odesa and was taken in the first days of the invasion, is reclaimed from Russian troops.

Ukraine is receiving more weapons from the West, notably Himars multiple rocket launchers supplied by the US.

July 22

With the help of Turkey and the UN, Russia and Ukraine reach an agreement to release grain supplies that have become blocked in Ukraine's Black Sea ports, putting an end to a standoff that threatened world food security.

August 9

Powerful explosions strike an air base in Crimea. The Russian government accuses Ukraine of being responsible for the vehicle bomb explosion south of Moscow that killed the daughter of Russian nationalist ideologist Alexander Dugin.

September 21

Vladimir Putin orders the call-up of 300,000 reserve soldiers, causing hundreds of thousands of Russian men to flee to surrounding nations to avoid being drafted.

September 30

Putin signs documents to annex four regions of Ukraine at a Kremlin ceremony.

November 9

In response to a Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russia declares its withdrawal from Kherson, the sole regional hub it had managed to seize. This is a humiliating retreat for the Russian government.

December 21

Zelensky visits the United States on his first trip abroad since the war began, meeting President Joe Biden to secure Patriot air-defence missile systems and other weapons, and addressing Congress.

2023

January 1

A Ukrainian missile attack on the city of Makiivka results in the deaths of numerous recently recruited Russian soldiers. While Ukrainian officials estimate that hundreds of people have died, the Russian defence ministry claims that 89 servicemen have perished.

January 14

A Russian missile destroys an apartment building in the city of Dnipro, killing 45 people as part of yet another round of attacks by Russia on the energy infrastructure of Ukraine.

February 20

In a meticulously planned high-risk security operation, Joe Biden visits Ukraine, demonstrating US support to Kyiv.

Joe Biden writing in the book of honoured guests during a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky in Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv on February 20, 2023 (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/AFP/via Getty Images)
Joe Biden writing in the book of honoured guests during a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky in Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv on February 20, 2023 (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/AFP/via Getty Images)

March 31

A US general branded the battle for Bakhmut in Ukraine as a “slaughter-fest” for Russia. The invading army had reportedly failed to make any progress for 20 days.

April 28

Russia kills at least 25 Ukrainian civilians after a night of bombing, its first large air-strike in almost two months.

May 29

The Ukrainian prosecutor's office revealed that 483 children had been killed and 986 injured since Russia invaded Ukraine.

June 23

Putin’s right-hand man Yevgeny Prigozhin staged a short-lived rebellion that signals further fractions emerging in Russian forces. Frustrated at Kremlin leadership and lack of support on the battlefield, Prigozhin called on his troops to advance toward Moscow. Tensions were swiftly eased, however, with a settlement reached by July 24.

July 17

Ukrainian forces take responsibility for an attack on the Kerch bridge in Crimea. The bridge is a key access point for Moscow and the damage by naval drones was a major blow to Putin.

Damage to the Kerch bridge, which connects the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula, seen on July 17, 2023 (Reuters)
Damage to the Kerch bridge, which connects the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula, seen on July 17, 2023 (Reuters)

August 23

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was confirmed among those killed in a plane crash in Russia. His death prompted uncertainty about the future of Wagner troops, largely believed to be the driving force behind many of the military initiatives in Ukraine.

September 26

Russia applies to join the United Nations Human Rights Council over a year after the country was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine. The request was denied.

October 21

Six people are killed and 17 injured in Kharkiv after a Russian missile strike.

November 25

Russia launched a massive drone strike on Kyiv, damaging a number of buildings and injuring at least two people.

November 26

Russia reveals that it has shot down Ukrainian drones that were flying over Moscow.

December 26

Russia confirms that Ukraine had destroyed one of its Black Sea warships, with Zelensky joking the ship had joined “the Russian underwater Black Sea fleet”.

2024

January 4

Putin offers foreigners Russian citizenship if they come and fight in Ukraine.

January 18

Ukraine claimed its forces flew a drone over Putin's residence during attacks on St Petersburg, Russia.

January 26

Russia and Ukraine swapped allegations that the opposing side had shot down the Ilyushin-76 plane, which was allegedly carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war.

Firefighters work at a site where production facilities were damaged during a Russian drone strike near Bila Tserkva city, in Kyiv region. Picture released January 30, 2024 (Reuters)
Firefighters work at a site where production facilities were damaged during a Russian drone strike near Bila Tserkva city, in Kyiv region. Picture released January 30, 2024 (Reuters)

February 7

Russia launches another large-scale attack on Ukrainian cities, killing at least five people and injuring over 30. Hours earlier, Russia claimed an attack on a bakery in the Russian-occupied eastern Ukrainian town of Lysychansk had killed 28.