Timeline: Week two of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

A United States ban on Russian oil imports, failed ceasefires and more than two million refugees mark the second week of war in Ukraine.

An elderly woman is seen coated in snow as she sits in a wheelchair after being evacuated from Irpin
An elderly woman is coated in snow as she sits in a wheelchair after being evacuated from Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine [File: Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo]

Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of hitting a hospital complex in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues amid growing international pressure on President Vladimir Putin to end the war.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the incident on Wednesday as an “atrocity” and reiterated a call for Kyiv’s allies to impose a no-fly zone over the country – a demand that has been rejected by the United States, the United Kingdom and NATO.

As the war enters its third week, ongoing fighting has hampered efforts to evacuate civilians in hard-hit Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors. The United Nations has said more than two million people have fled the country since Russia’s all-out invasion began on February 24.

Here, Al Jazeera looks at the major events that marked the second week of Russia’s invasion:

March 2: The Ukrainian city of Kherson is the first significant urban centre to fall since Russia’s invasion began. Mayor Igor Kolykhayev says Russian troops were in the streets and had forced their way into the city council building. The city is strategically located in southern Ukraine at the mouth of the Dneiper River’s exit into the Black Sea – and its capture is a major victory for Moscow.

The UN says more than 870,000 people have fled Ukraine so far.

The UN General Assembly approves a nonbinding resolution condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and demanding an immediate withdrawal. The resolution is supported by 141 of the assembly’s 193 members. Thirty-five member states, including China, abstain.

March 3: Ukraine and Russia agree to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians in the second round of talks since Moscow’s invasion began.

The UK’s defence ministry says a column of Russian armoured vehicles heading for Kyiv is still stuck 30km (18 miles) outside the city centre, held up by fierce Ukrainian resistance and mechanical problems.

Russian forces encircle the port of Mariupol, in the southeast, while several other Ukrainian cities are under attack. The UN says more than one million Ukrainians have fled their country.

Putin speaks by telephone with his French counterpart President Emmanuel Macron. Putin tells Macron that Russia will achieve its goals in Ukraine. Macron tells Putin not to lie to himself, warning “Your country will pay dearly … weakened and under sanctions for a very long time.”

The International Criminal Court prosecutor says he will “immediately proceed” with an investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine dating back to 2013.

The International Energy Agency unveils a 10-point plan to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas.

March 4: Russia blocks Facebook in response to what it said were restrictions imposed on Russian state-owned media on the social media platform.

The Russian parliament votes unanimously to approve a draft law criminalising the intentional spreading of what the government deems to be “fake” news reports.

Several international news networks, including CNN and Canada’s national broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada, say they will suspend operations in Russia as a result of the law, which carries jail terms up to 15 years.

Russian forces seize Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia, in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar. A fire breaks out during the shelling, raising fears of another Chernobyl-style nuclear disaster in Europe. It is later put out.

The Ukrainian UN Ambassador accuses Russia of committing “nuclear terrorism” after the attack; Russia’s UN ambassador dismisses reports that Russian troops attacked the site as “lies” and “disinformation”.

March 5: Putin says Ukraine’s statehood is being put in jeopardy as the country continues to resist the Russian invasion. He calls Western sanctions against Moscow “akin to declaring war”.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with Putin in Moscow on Saturday to discuss the Ukraine crisis.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba on the Polish-Ukrainian border. Kuleba repeats Zelenskyy’s estimate that Russia has lost more than 10,000 troops in the war, plus dozens of aircraft and hundreds of armoured vehicles.

Russia intensifies its shelling of Mariupol, a city of 430,000 on Ukraine’s coast. The attacks violate a self-declared ceasefire and prevent civilians from evacuating along what was supposed to be a safe corridor.

Zelenskyy urges the US Congress to sanction Russia’s oil-and-gas sector and allow eastern European countries to send Ukraine Soviet-made aircraft. Congress is also working on a $10bn package of military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

The US urges its citizens to leave Russia immediately, updating an earlier travel advisory not to travel there.

Aeroflot, Russia’s largest state-owned airline, says it will cease all international flights except to Belarus starting March 8 amid fears its foreign-leased aircraft could be impounded under Western sanctions.

March 6: Ukraine says Russia is targeting civilians as it has stepped up up shelling of four cities: Kharkiv in the east, Mykolaiv and Mariupol on the Black Sea coast, and the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv.

A second attempt to evacuate an estimated 200,000 people out of Mariupol has come to a halt amid ongoing fighting. The Red Cross says the situation in the city is extremely “dire” as huge numbers of people are displaced.

A Russian missile strike destroys a civilian airport in Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, Zelenskyy says.

The Ukrainian president renews his demand for Western powers to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine to prevent more Russian attacks. “We repeat every day: close the sky over Ukraine. Close for all Russian missiles, for Russian combat aircraft, for all their terrorists,” he says.

Mastercard, Visa and American Express credit-card companies say they are suspending operations in Russia.

March 7: Russian shelling prevents the evacuation of civilians from Kyiv, Mariupol, Sumy, Kharkiv, Volnovakha and Mykolaiv, the Ukrainian foreign ministry says.

Ukraine slams as “completely immoral” Russia’s stance on humanitarian corridors after Moscow suggested it would allow people to flee Ukrainian cities provided they exited to Belarus or Russia.

Ukraine’s negotiator says a third round of talks with Russia had yielded some progress on evacuation logistics through humanitarian corridors – but no solution on wider issues had been reached. The two sides will continue talks on a ceasefire, Mykhailo Podolyak says.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine, says the city is witnessing “scenes of utter devastation” following shelling by Russian forces.

Putin says he will not send conscripts or reservists to fight in Ukraine and that “professionals” fulfilling “fixed objectives” were leading the war.

As the US and Europe debate whether to ban Russian oil imports, Brent crude prices briefly hit a high of $139.13 in the first hours of trading, a price not seen since July 2008.

Russia’s deputy prime minister, Alexander Novak, warns oil prices could hit $300 a barrel if Russian exports are sanctioned.

The UN says more than 1.7 million people have now fled Ukraine since the invasion began.

March 8: Some civilians flee the Ukrainian town of Sumy after a ceasefire is largely observed.

Safe passage continues to elude Mariupol, where residents have been waiting days to evacuate. Many try to leave, but Ukraine said they came under Russian fire.

The US imposes a ban on all imports of Russian energy, saying the move aims to target “the main artery” of the country’s economy.

The European Commission says it will reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas by two-thirds by the end of the year. The UK also says it will phase out imports of Russian oil and oil products by year’s end.

Several top US brands, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, say they will stop operating in Russia.

The UN says the number of people fleeing Ukraine in search of safety in other countries has now reached two million.

The US rejects Poland’s offer to send MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine via a US airbase in Germany, saying the proposal raised “serious concerns” for the entire NATO alliance.

March 9: Renewed efforts to rescue civilians from increasingly dire conditions in many besieged Ukrainian cities make little progress, as a ceasefire agreed upon by both sides fails to prevent fresh clashes.

Ukrainian officials say a hospital complex in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol has been hit by a Russian attack. Zelenskyy denounces the incident as an “atrocity” and reiterates a call for Kyiv’s allies to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

The top US and UK diplomats once again rule out Ukraine’s demand for a no-fly zone, saying they want to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia.

Kyiv calls for an immediate ceasefire around the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant amid a power cut at the site.

Russia’s defence ministry admits that some conscripts were deployed to Ukraine, days after Putin denied that was the case.

Source: Al Jazeera