Timeline: A month of Russia’s war in Ukraine

In the month since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, more than 10 million people have been displaced.

A woman holds a child in an improvised bomb shelter in Mariupol
A woman holds a child in an improvised bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine [File: Mstyslav Chernov/AP]

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of February 24, sparking the biggest war on a European state since World War II.

In the month since the invasion began, more than 10 million people have been displaced, several Ukrainian towns and cities have been besieged and bombarded beyond recognition, and hundreds of civilians have been killed.

Russia has been hammered with severe punitive sanctions, including asset freezes and export bans. These have darkened the growth prospects of the global economy, which had just begun to recover from the COVID-19 recession.

Key moments from the first month of the war are as follows:

February 24: Russia launches a full-scale assault on Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy orders a general mobilisation.

Moscow’s stock exchange plummets by 45 percent after the United States announces sanctions on Russian banks.

February 26: The European Union bars selected Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), cutting them off from the global financial system.

February 27: The EU bans Russian civilian aircraft from EU airspace. State-owned media Sputnik and Russia Today (RT), along with their subsidiaries, are banned from EU airwaves and the internet.

Russian troops press towards Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and towards Kharkiv and Kherson. Ukrainians enlist.

February 28: Ukraine applies to join the EU. Russia and Ukraine start ceasefire talks. The Russian rouble tumbles 30 percent, forcing Putin to impose capital controls. The EU bans transactions with Russia’s central bank, and approves a 500-million-euro ($554m) support package for the Ukrainian military. It is the first time the EU has agreed to provide lethal equipment to a third country.

People fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, cross train tracks to get to a train leaving for Poland, at the train station in Lviv, Ukraine February
People fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cross train tracks to get to a train leaving for Poland, at the train station in Lviv, Ukraine on February 28 [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

March 1: A 65km-long Russian convoy heads for Kyiv. Pressure increases on Kharkiv and Mariupol in the east, and Kherson in the south. Human Rights Watch reports that Russians are using cluster bombs against civilians. The US closes its skies to Russian aircraft.

March 2: Russian tanks enter Kherson, the first and only regional capital city to fall during the first month of the war. Russian forces surround the port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine. The number of refugees who have fled Ukraine surpasses one million.

March 3: The International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor sends an advance team to investigate possible war crimes.

March 4: Putin blocks Twitter, Facebook, Voice of America, the BBC and Deutsche Welle – among other media platforms – in Russia. He signs a law criminalising “fake news”, which could give offenders up to 15 years in prison.

March 5: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

The US urges its citizens to leave Russia immediately.

Aeroflot, Russia’s biggest state-owned airline, says it will cease all international flights.

March 7: Brent crude briefly reaches a high of $139.13 a barrel.

Ukrainian refugees number 1.7million.

Passengers, including evacuees from the cities of Sumy and Kyiv, walk along the platform of a railway station upon their arrival in Lviv, Ukraine
Passengers, including evacuees from the cities of Sumy and Kyiv, walk along the platform of a railway station upon their arrival in Lviv, Ukraine on February 25 [Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters]

March 8: Civilians flee the town of Sumy via an evacuation corridor as agreed in talks between Moscow and Kyiv.

The US rejects a Polish offer to transfer Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter aircraft to Ukraine’s air force, as it seeks to keep NATO out of the war.

The European Commission unveils REPowerEU, a plan to reduce dependence on Russian natural gas by two-thirds by the end of the year.

The US imposes a ban on Russian crude oil imports, bringing the rise in oil prices since the Russian invasion to 30 percent.

The number of Ukrainian refugees surpasses two million.

March 9: Russian air strikes hit a maternity hospital in Mariupol, killing three. Russia says the hospital was housing “radicals”.

Streams of refugees flee bloody battles in Kyiv’s northwestern suburbs Irpin and Vorzel.

The International Monetary Fund’s executive board approves $1.4bn in emergency financing for Ukraine.

March 10: Russian forces bomb an evacuation corridor, preventing humanitarian supplies from reaching Mariupol.

The US Congress approves $13.6bn in spending for refugee and military aid.

March 11: Russians kidnap the mayor of Melitopol, a city in southeastern Ukraine.

Putin approves the deployment of up to 16,000 irregular fighters from Syria.

Total refugees surpass 2.5 million and a further 2 million people are internally displaced, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The EU issues the Versailles Declaration, moving in the direction of a European defence capability.

March 12: In Mariupol, a team of journalists with the Associated Press news agency films a Russian tank shelling an apartment building and an AP reporter is among medical workers targeted by Russian sniper fire. Russian forces pillage a humanitarian convoy trying to relieve the city’s residents.

A woman cyring.
A woman reacts while speaking near a block of flats that was destroyed during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine on March 17 [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

March 13: Russia broadens its attacks to western Ukraine, firing 30 cruise missiles at a military training base in Yavoriv, 25km from the Polish border. At least 35 people are killed and 134 others wounded, according to Ukrainian officials.

March 14: Chechen leader and Putin loyalist Ramzan Kadyrov says Chechens have joined Moscow’s fight against Ukraine.

The US warns China it will not tolerate any form of alleviating sanctions against Russia, as US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan meets China’s Foreign Affairs Director Yang Jiechi for talks.

Around 160 cars manage to leave Mariupol, as Russians block an aid convoy to the city.

March 15: The Czech, Polish and Slovenian prime ministers ride a train to Kyiv.

Twenty thousand civilians manage to flee Mariupol. The number of refugees surpasses three million.

Zelenskyy tells European officials he doesn’t believe NATO membership is a prospect for Ukraine, signalling possible grounds for a compromise in negotiations with Moscow.

March 16: Russian and Ukrainian negotiators say they are discussing neutrality for Ukraine in return for security guarantees and the departure of Russian troops.

Putin likens domestic opponents of the war to “gnats” who weaken the country. He speaks of a “natural and necessary self-purification of society” that will “strengthen the country”, hinting at a potential crackdown on dissent.

A man walks near a block of flats, which was destroyed during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged port city of Mariupol
A man walks near a block of destroyed flats in Mariupol, Ukraine on March 17 [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

March 18: Ukraine says it has rescued 130 people from the ruins of Mariupol’s municipal theatre, bombed two days earlier, and warns that hundreds more could be trapped beneath the rubble. A further 5,000 civilians are evacuated from the city, bringing the number of evacuees to 35,000. Russian forces enter the city and fighting is reported in the centre, as Ukrainian officials say the city has lost access to the sea. The Mariupol city council estimates 2,500 people have been killed during the Russian bombardment.

Six missiles are fired from the Black Sea at the western city of Lviv. Two are intercepted and four strike an aircraft repair hangar, killing one person.

US President Joe Biden warns Chinese President Xi Jinping of “consequences” should China offer Russia “material support” in the conflict.

March 20: Russian air strikes destroy an art school in Mariupol where some 400 civilians are reportedly sheltering.

The UN says more than 10 million people have been displaced in Ukraine, including those who have fled the country.

March 21: Ukraine rejects a Russian ultimatum to surrender in Mariupol.

March 22: Biden says Putin’s constant claims that Ukraine has chemical and biological weapons are a “clear sign he is considering using both of those”.

Source: Al Jazeera