Ukraine war: A month-by-month timeline of the conflict so far

A father puts his hand on the window as he says goodbye to his daughter in front of an evacuation train at the central train station in Odessa on March 7, 2022.
A father puts his hand on the window as he says goodbye to his daughter in front of an evacuation train at the central train station in Odessa on March 7, 2022. Copyright BULENT KILIC/AFP or licensors
By Joshua Askew
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Here's our look at the key moments since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February last year.

February 2022: Invasion begins

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Russia invades on 24 February, a day etched in the mind of every Ukrainian.

Fierce fighting erupts in northern Ukraine as tens of thousands of Russian troops try to take the Ukrainian capital and decapitate the country. Wagner mercenaries are reportedly redeployed from Africa to assassinate the Ukrainian president.

A defiant Zelenskyy films himself walking through the streets of Kyiv, delivering a clear and compelling message: “I am here. We will not lay down any weapons.”

Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
The body of a serviceman is coated in snow next to a destroyed Russian military multiple rocket launcher vehicle on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022.Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The move by the former comedian-turned-politician instantly becomes a PR masterstroke, rallying ordinary Ukrainians and the world behind him.

The EU throws open its doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring out of Ukraine, with neighbouring countries like Poland, Hungary and Romania heavily praised for their generosity. 

Some criticise the double standards shown by the bloc towards Ukrainians compared to those escaping violence in the Middle East or North Africa.

The United Nations overwhelmingly condemns Russia’s aggression and the West slaps sanctions on Moscow.

March 2022: Horror in Bucha

Shockwaves from the Russian invasion reverberate around the world. 

Food and energy prices climb as attention turns to the wider impact of the war. There are pointed concerns about the cost of living in the west, while food security becomes a worry across huge swathes of the developing world. 

Russian forces encounter stubborn resistance around Kyiv and their advance starts to splutter and stall. Snaking convoys of tanks and military vehicles clog up roads, as military logistics and communications break down.

Some senior Russian commanders are killed trying to check on what is happening at the front.

Grizzly evidence of war crimes emerges as Russian forces pull back from areas around Kyiv. Hundreds of bodies of civilians are found in mass graves in Bucha. Many were bound and shot at close range, while others show signs of torture and rape.

But Russia's push to capture the Ukrainian capital has failed – for now.

Russia begins cracking down on independent media and festering opposition to the war inside the country, with several local stations shut down and access to foreign media restricted.

April 2022: A new phase of war

A Russian missile strike hits a train station in Kramatorsk on 8 April, killing at least 50 civilians -- including women and children -- and wounding more than 100. Most of them were trying to evacuate to safety, say Ukrainian officials.

This catastrophe kicks off Moscow's pivot towards the east as it launches a new offensive to seize the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

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The hand of a corpse buried along with other bodies is seen in a mass grave in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022.Rodrigo Abd/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.

A suspected Ukrainian missile sinks the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva. It is a major blow to Moscow’s naval supremacy and military prestige

Parents start asking questions about the fate of their missing sons as authorities remain tight-lipped about casualties among the ship's 500-strong crew.

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Nearly two-thirds of Ukraine’s children are now displaced by war, says the UN.

May 2022: NATO grows

Sweden and Finland unveil their bids to join NATO, although there is political opposition from Turkey and Hungary which will continue all year. 

The pair were closely aligned with NATO for decades, but not formally part of the organisation. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited NATO expansion as one of the main reasons for invading Ukraine, but it appears the invasion has had the opposite effect of strengthening the western military alliance.

Russia holds its yearly Victory Day Parade on 9 May to mark the USSR’s defeat of Nazism in the Second World War. 

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In a rare glimpse of lighter news, Ukraine wins the Eurovision song contest, though Italian police reveal the event was targeted by Russian hackers.

Fighters in the Azovstal steel mill -- the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol -- finally hoist up the white flag. Holding out for several apocalyptic weeks in the sprawling Soviet industrial complex, their dogged struggle was watched closely by the world.

June 2022: 100 days of war

100 days of war have now passed. Tens of thousands lay dead, millions more are uprooted from their homes and Ukraine’s historical and cultural sites are devastated by fighting.

Nike leaves Russia, becoming the latest in a string of western brands to exit the country over the war. Experts say these high-profile departures, along with international sanctions, are crippling the Russian economy

However, there are still debates about Russia's economic resilience and whether sanctions are the right approach, with some claiming they unduly affect ordinary Russians and play into the government's anti-western rhetoric. 

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French President Emmanuel Macron examine debris as they visit Irpin, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, June 16, 2022.Ludovic Marin/AP

But Russia is not the only one struggling. A global food crisis is looming, with millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain languishing in silos since the start of the war. 

Up to 181 million people in 41 countries could face acute food insecurity and outright famine, UN projections show.

Ukrainian forces recapture Snake Island, a tiny islet off the coast of southern Ukraine in the Black Sea.

July 2022: Russian advances in the east

The last city in the eastern Luhansk region falls to the grinding Russian invasion. Ukraine’s embattled forces focus on defending Donetsk, the second part of the prized Donbas. 

The Donbas, a heavily industrialised region in eastern Ukraine, has become the site of the biggest battle in Europe in generations.

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Inflation reaches record highs in the Eurozone, with the euro and the dollar reaching parity (1 EUR = 1 USD).

Russia begins to periodically shut down the Nord Stream gas pipelines in a bid to ratchet up pressure on Europe. European leaders are spooked, teetering on the edge of an energy precipice ahead of winter.

Ukraine and Russia agree to a landmark deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported across the Black Sea. It is a major breakthrough aimed at easing the global food crisis -- one that brings a moment of reprieve to millions.

HIMARS missiles from the US begin hitting Russian ammo depots, logistics and command and control systems.

August 2022: Gas exports to Europe stop

Amnesty International publishes a report that accuses Ukraine of riding roughshod with civilian life by placing its military in residential areas. Kyiv acts with outrage, while others maintain its armed forces are not above scrutiny, even if the country is under attack. 

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Powerful explosions rock an airbase in the Russian-occupied Crimea peninsula.

No side says what they think is behind the string of blasts, which destroy several Russian planes and damage more than 80 buildings. But Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov suggests that Russia’s “military guys” had failed to observe a “very simple” rule: “Don't smoke in dangerous places”.

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Ukrainian servicemen take their position at the frontline in Mykolaiv region, Ukraine, Aug. 8, 2022.Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

Ukraine and Russia have been flirting with catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine for months. But now UN chief Antonio Guterres says the pair should stop their “suicidal attacks” on the nuclear plant, saying both sides should end fighting there. 

A suspected car bomb goes off in Moscow killing TV commentator Daria Dugina, though observers think her father Aleksandr Dugin – dubbed ‘Putin’s brain’ – may have been the intended target.

All gas exports to Europe are halted on 31 August, with Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom citing maintenance work on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Prices surge immediately. 

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September 2022: Mobilisation

Ukraine launches a rapid counter-offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region, sending Russian units into retreat. 

Zelenskyy raises the Ukrainian flag in the war-scarred city of Izium on 10 September. Occupied by Russia for six months, it is a big strategic win for Kyiv. 

Putin announces a “partial mobilisation” of 300,000 troops to fight in Ukraine, triggering a mass flight of Russians escaping conscription into neighbouring Georgia and Kazakhstan.

The US claims “hundreds of thousands” of Ukrainian citizens are being forcibly deported to Russia in a “series of horrors”.

Almost 1,200 protestors are arrested in cities across Russia after the call-up, as the authority's vice-like grip on anti-war dissent tightens. Many of these demonstrations are in areas populated by Russia's ethnic minorities, who claim they are disproportionately targeted by the draft. 

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Russia officially annexes Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia on 30 September. In a move branded illegal under international law, Putin says the annexed regions will be part of Russia "forever".

October 2022: Sabotage

A large explosion tears through a bridge linking Russia and Crimea, which serves as a major supply route for Moscow’s forces fighting in Ukraine. It happens one day after Putin’s birthday.

Kyiv does not take responsibility for the blast, though Russia points to “Ukrainian terror”. Russia’s prestige in the region is dealt a stinging blow.

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Flame and smoke rise from Crimean Bridge connecting Russian mainland and Crimean peninsula over the Kerch Strait, in Kerch, Crimea, on Oct. 8, 2022.AP/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.

Russia begins bombing Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, knocking out power and heating ahead of winter. Military analysts tell Euronews this is a “strategy of escalation” intended to “break the national morale”.

The war in Ukraine and rising inflation plunge an additional four million children into poverty, according to an October report by UNICEF. A large proportion of them -- 2.8 million -- are Russian.

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November 2022: Kherson liberated

Ukrainian troops pour into Kherson on 11 November.

The southern port city, once home to 250,000 people, was one of the first to fall to Russian forces, during the early days of the war. There are jubilant scenes across Ukraine, though officials warn of an unfolding humanitarian disaster in the bombed-out ruins.

Poland is put on high alert after a blast near the Ukrainian border kills two. It turns out the deadly explosion was caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile.  

Inflation in Europe eases but it is still in painful double digits, hitting 10% in November. Russia is hoping surging consumer prices and new waves of Ukrainian refugees will erode European leaders' resolve. 

NATO promises to admit Ukraine into the western alliance, though there are considerable doubts over when Kyiv will be allowed to join. 

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December 2022: Grim warnings for spring

Zelenskyy heads to the US -- his first state visit outside the country since the start of the war.

Saying that Ukraine will “never be alone”, US President Joe Biden promises to send Patriot air defence systems to help Ukraine stave off Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure.

The US had been reluctant to supply this long-range weapon to Ukraine over fears of inflaming tensions with Russia. Moscow warns Washington over sending more weapons to Kyiv.

OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP or licensors
Biden and Zelenskyy met at the White House.OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP or licensors

Ukrainian authorities raise fears that Russia may try to take Kyiv again in the New Year, after its abortive offensive at the start of the war. 

On Christmas Day, Putin claims Russia is “ready to negotiate” with Ukraine - a demand ruled out by leaders in Ukraine. The Russian president publicly uses the word "war" to refer to his country's invasion for the first time.

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January 2023: Tanks, tanks, tanks

Amid mounting political pressure, Germany finally agrees to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks, paving the way for the US and other NATO allies to follow suit.

Some hailed the move as a significant boost to Kyiv’s war effort -– which could enable fresh offensives -– though others questioned if the number of tanks was enough and whether Ukraine would be able to use them effectively on the battlefield.

Russia slammed it as a “blatant provocation”.

Almost as soon as the tank deliveries got the green light, Kyiv began asking for fighter jets -– something western European leaders flatly ruled out.

After months of gritty fighting, Ukraine admits withdrawing from the eastern town of Soledar, reversing Russia's military fortunes. 

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Moscow has portrayed the fight as key to seizing the strategic town of Bakhmut and the prized Donbas region. But the importance of the salt-mining town is debated.

Russia and Belarus begin joint drills, sparking fears that Moscow could use its ally to launch a fresh ground offensive in spring.

February 2023: Festering corruption

The month gets off to a bumpy start as a damaging corruption scandal hits Ukraine's Defence Ministry, with officials accused of signing off on over-inflated contracts to supply frontline troops with food.

Corruption has long been an endemic evil in Ukraine. 

Attempting to ensure the allegations don't sour Western allies' willingness to provide crucial military and financial support, Zelenskyy vows swift action to tackle the problem, long an endemic evil in Ukraine.

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A historic summit with Kyiv and EU leaders happens a few days later, with a relatively undeterred Brussels pledging more support for Ukraine and a tenth round of Russia sanctions.

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Supporters of Ukraine hold signs and wave flags during a Stand with Ukraine rally at Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 26, 2023.JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP or licensors

Rallies are held across Europe calling for peace as Ukraine -- and the world -- marks one year since Russian troops and tanks flooded over the border.

Zelenskyy marks the anniversary of a year blighted by "pain, sorrow, faith and unity" striking a tone of grim defiance.

“We survived the first day of the full-scale war. We didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but we clearly understood that for each tomorrow, you need to fight. And we fought,” he said in an early morning video address.

"[It was] the longest day of our lives. The hardest day of our modern history. We woke up early and haven’t fallen asleep since."

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March 2023: Back and forth in Bakhmut

It's an action-packed month. 

Bitter fighting rages in Bakhmut, with each side repeatedly claiming they control the eastern city. 

In a situation referred to as a meat grinder, western military analysts claim Wagner's mercenary force - recently stocked with fresh conscripts - is being depleted in the brutal battle, though Ukrainian forces suffer heavy losses too. 

Ukraine gets its first delivery of Western heavy tanks, with British Challengers and German Leopards a welcome boost for the country's armed forces. Polish fighter jets also arrive. 

Martin Meissner/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
A Leopard 2 tank is seen in action at the Bundeswehr tank battalion 203 at the Field Marshal Rommel Barracks in Augustdorf, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.Martin Meissner/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Russia says it wants to move tactical nukes to Belarus, prompting a fierce backlash from the EU which blasts the move as irresponsible and threatens more sanctions. Moscow points out that the US also has weapons of mass destruction parked in Europe. 

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During a highly scripted trip to Mairupol, a woman reportedly heckles Putin from a window, shouting "it's all lies". 

Russia's president rolls out the red carpet for his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. The pair renew their anti-Western alliance, raising fears Beijing will begin supplying Moscow with lethal military aid. 

Speaking to Euronews, experts suggest this is unlikely as China would not want to run the risk of escalating tensions with the West or possibly ruining its chances of rebuilding Ukraine. But the possibility remains.

April 2023: Shocking revelations

A treasure trove of classified US intelligence about the Ukraine war and other things is leaked. They detail Russian infighting over Ukrainian dead, Washtington's accusations about UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres being "too accommodating" to Moscow and that Western special forces are operating inside the country. 

The EU steps in with a deal to resolve a dispute over Ukrainian grain, after Poland and Hungary announced a "protectionist" ban, deemed "unacceptable" by Brussels.

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Russia readies its weapons for a much-talked-about Ukrainian counter-offensive, but none is forthcoming.  

The battle for Bakhmut rages on, with the Russian Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin claiming his forces are in "legal control of the city".

Posting a gruesome video of him next to dead soldiers, he later threatens to pull out of the key fight, unless much-needed ammo is supplied by the Russian armed forces. 

It points to his growing assertiveness - and tensions - with Russia's military establishment.

May 2023: Drones rain down on Kyiv

Whispers of a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive start to be heard, though Kyiv remains tight-lipped about its military plans. 

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EU's High Representative Josep Borell warns Ukraine can fall in a "matter of days" if European support is not massively increased. Macron agrees, calling on NATO to promise tangible security guarantees. 

A growing rift between the Russian army and the Wagner military group deepens, with boss Yevgeny Prigozhin accusing the military of abandoning its positions in Bakhmut. He has repeatedly criticised the Defence Ministry in the past. 

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A trail of a jet is seen during a sunrise over Red Square, with St. Basil Cathedral and the Spasskaya Tower, right, in the background in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Dec 2020.Pavel Golovkin/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved

South Africa is put in the spotlight, as the US ambassador to the country accuses it of providing weapons and ammunition to Russia.

Ukraine is blamed for a drone strike on the Kremlin, but the US-based Insitute for the Study of War suggest it could be an inside job to prepare the Russian population for further mobilisations. 

Moscow ramps up bombardments on Ukraine, with Kyiv targeted more than 16 times in May. Speaking to Euronews, Dr Jade McGlynn at King's College London said this "terror bombing" was a deliberate attempt to subject the Ukrainian population to psychological pressure. 

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June 2023: Kherson dam explosion and Wagner's mutiny

A major disaster unfolds when the Soviet-era Nova Kakhovka dam in Russia-controlled southern Ukraine is blown up. 

Zelenskyy blames it on "Russian terrorists", while Moscow denies any involvement. 

The incident kills 50 people, floods a vast stretch of land - reportedly changing Ukraine's counteroffensive plans - and costs around €1.2 billion in damage, according to Ukrainian Environment Minister Ruslan Strilets. 

Observing an uptick in military activity across the frontline, the US-based think tank Institue for the Study of War claims Ukraine's counteroffensive has begun

Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner mercenaries rebel against Russia's leadership. A dramatic 36-hour sage unfolds, as they capture Russian cities and march on Moscow. 

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The spark is efforts by the Russian MoD to take over Wagner - something Prigozhin flatly rejects.    

Belarusian president Aleksander Lukashenko brokers a deal, convincing Prigozhin to call off his troops en route to the Russian capital. It allows the Wagner boss and his troops to live in Belarus in exile, freeing him from criminal charges.

July 2023: NATO disappointment

A pivotal NATO summit takes place in Vilnius, Lithuania. Despite high hopes among some, the US-led military alliance does not offer a clear timetable for Ukraine's membership. Kyiv is disappointed and angry but receives formalised security guarantees and assurances it will join - eventually. 

Ukraine is accused of using indiscriminate landmines, while the US controversially agrees to send Kyiv cluster bombs. Supplying the munitions, renowned for maiming civilians long after a conflict has finished, prompts a sharp reaction from Moscow. 

Wagner mercenaries begin training Belarusian troops. Fears rise in neighbouring Poland and Lithuania that Russia's guns for hire may target them with hybrid attacks, as one expert warns Wagner could cut off the Baltics from NATO. 

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US intelligence publishes a report revealing China is likely supplying Russia's war in Ukraine with key military equipment, including fighter jet parts and jamming devices.

Moscow pulls out of the Black Sea grain deal and begins bombing Ukraine's export infrastructure, the spectre of famine is raised once more. 

Ukraine takes the war more directly to Moscow firing drones at the Russian capital, as its troops experience heavy fighting on the ground.

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