The Russian offensive enters its 85th week, we track where the fighting is happening and how we got here.
Read on for an overview of the situation in infographics and maps.
Where are people fleeing to?
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there have been 27 million border crossings out of Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February 2022. Many people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
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The latest data show 15,474,150 border crossings into Poland, 3,394,150 to Romania, 2,852,395 to Russia, 3,577,340 to Hungary, 1,754,780 to Slovakia, 942,690 to Moldova and 16,705 into Belarus. Most of those displaced have been women and children. Men aged 18 to 60 have been asked to remain in Ukraine to fight.
Ukraine and Russia explained in ten maps and charts
Below are ten infographics that break down the history, politics and economics of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
1. Conflict at a glance
After months of tensions and intense diplomacy, Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Explosions were heard across the country. Kyiv declared martial law, saying Ukraine will defend itself. Below is a summary of the conflict at a glance.
2. History of the USSR
Russia and Ukraine were part of the 15 Soviet republics that made up the Soviet Union. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine declared independence on August 24. The map below shows when each of these countries declared independence.
3. Political leadership
After independence, Ukraine moved to shed its Russian imperial legacy and forge increasingly close ties with the West.
Over the past 30 years, Ukraine has been led by seven presidents. The country has had a rocky path towards democracy with two revolutions, first in 2005 and then in 2014. Both times, protesters rejected Russia’s supremacy and sought a path to join the European Union and NATO.
By comparison, Russia has been led by three presidents, with Putin having been in office for 17 years. In 2021, Putin, the former agent of the Soviet Union’s KGB security services, signed a law that essentially enables him to stay in power until 2036.
Putin has repeatedly claimed that Russians and Ukrainians belong to “one people” and are part of the historical “Russian civilisation” that also includes neighbouring Belarus. Ukrainians reject his claims.
4. How big are Ukraine and Russia?
Ukraine has an estimated population of 44 million – the seventh-largest in Europe. The country comprises 24 regions, known as oblasts. The country’s population has declined since the 1990s with fertility rates among the lowest in the world. As of 2020, Ukraine’s fertility rate was just 1.2. For context, in order for a population to remain stable, an overall total fertility rate of 2.1 is required.
Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe, after Russia. At 603,550sq km (233,031sq miles), Ukraine is a bit smaller than the US state of Texas, about three times smaller than India, half the size of South Africa and about two and a half times the size of the United Kingdom.
5. NATO in Europe
NATO is the world’s most powerful military alliance. Comprising 30 nations, its primary role is to protect its member states by political and military means.
Russia opposes NATO bases near its borders and has asked for written guarantees that NATO will not expand eastwards. One of the Kremlin’s central demands is that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO – a move it considers a red line. The United States has refused to concede to this demand.
Read more about NATO history and expansion here.
6. Military head to head
Russia has one of the most powerful militaries in the world and ranks among the top five defence spenders.
In 2020, Russia spent $61.7bn on its military, which accounted for 11.4 percent of government spending. In comparison, Ukraine spent $5.9bn on its armed forces, or 8.8 percent of government spending, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Since tensions began, NATO allies, fearful of a potential ground invasion by Russia, have stepped up support for Kyiv by sending military equipment to Ukraine.
Read more about the military capabilities of Russia and Ukraine here.
7. Oil and gas resources
Russia and Ukraine are both rich in oil and gas. Russia has the world’s highest proven gas reserves at 48,938 billion cubic metres. More than 70 percent of the country’s gas reserves are held by Gazprom, a state-owned energy giant.
Russia supplies about one-third of Europe’s natural gas. US sanctions over the conflict could disrupt that supply, exacerbating Europe’s energy crisis. On February 22, Germany halted the certification of Nord Stream 2, an $11.6bn Russian gas pipeline project that was designed to move 151 million cubic metres of gas a day into Europe.
Russia also has some of the largest proven oil reserves, at 80 billion barrels, or 5 percent of the world’s total.
Ukraine, too, has a sizeable reserve of oil and gas at 395 million barrels and 349 billion cubic metres, respectively. The country sits at the crossroads between the West and Russia, and plays a key role in delivering Russian gas to European markets.
Read more about the world’s oil and gas pipelines here.
8. Russia and Ukraine’s main exports
More than one-quarter of the world’s wheat exports come from Russia and Ukraine. Economic sanctions or military action may have a significant effect on the cost of food as importers seek to find alternatives. Russia exported $407bn in products and Ukraine $49bn in 2019.
Read more about Russia, Ukraine and the global wheat supply here.
9. Which countries rely most on Russian oil?
In 2019, the world’s top exporters of crude oil were Saudi Arabia ($145bn), Russia ($123bn), Iraq ($73.8bn), Canada ($67.8bn), and the US ($61.9bn).
China bought about one-quarter (27 percent) of Russia’s total oil exports worth $34bn. However, given China’s massive energy needs, this made up only 16 percent of the country’s oil imports.
At least 48 countries imported Russian crude oil in 2019. The countries that rely most on Russian oil include: Belarus, Cuba, Curacao, Kazakhstan, Latvia – each importing more than 99 percent of their crude oil from Russia.
The graphic below shows how much of each country’s total crude oil imports come from Russia.
Read more about what a ban on Russian oil means here.
10. Which countries buy the most Russian weapons?
Russia is the world’s second-largest arms exporter, behind the United States, accounting for roughly 20 percent of global weapons sales. Between 2016 and 2020, Moscow sold $28bn of weapons to 45 countries.
Russia exports nearly 90 percent of its arms to 10 countries. Its biggest customer, India, bought 23 percent of Russia’s weapons for some $6.5bn over the past five years. Half of India’s total arms imports, 49.3 percent, come from Russia.
China is the second-largest buyer of Russian weaponry at $5.1bn over the same period followed by Algeria ($4.2bn), Egypt ($3.3bn), and Vietnam ($1.7bn), according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Read more about Russian weapons here.