Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 731

These are the main developments on the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Firefighters extinguish a fire after a Russian attack on a residential neighborhood in Kharkiv
On this day two years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, triggering a brutal war with no end in sight [File: Yevhen Titov/Reuters]

Here is the situation on Saturday, February 24, 2024.

Second anniversary of the war

  • On this day two years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, triggering a brutal war with no end in sight.
  • To mark the anniversary, the United States issued sanctions against more than 500 Russian-linked targets and imposed new export restrictions on nearly 100 entities for providing support to Russia in the largest single tranche of penalties since the start of the conflict.
  • The European Union announced its 13th package of sanctions against Russia, banning nearly 200 additional entities and individuals accused of involvement in the two-year war.
  • The United Kingdom also imposed sanctions on six officials overseeing the penal colony where Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny died in mysterious circumstances last week.
  • The prime ministers of Italy, Canada and Belgium, Giorgia Meloni, Justin Trudeau and Alexander De Croo, and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, travelled to the Ukrainian capital together by train from neighbouring Poland in a show of solidarity.
  • Von der Leyen has praised Ukraine’s “extraordinary resistance” as she arrived in Kyiv.
  • Meloni and Trudeau are expected to sign security pacts with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in line with deals recently agreed to with France and Germany that are worth billions of dollars.
    US President Joe Biden is due to take part in a video conference call of fellow leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) major democracies, which will be chaired by Meloni, with Zelenskyy invited to join the discussion. Italy holds the rotating G7 presidency and organised the call.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called for Germany and Europe to make a bigger effort when it comes to defence. “Russia is not only attacking Ukraine, it is also destroying peace in Europe,” Scholz said, adding that Ukraine would be supported in its self-defence “for as long as necessary”.
  • During the two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, more than 14 million people – nearly one-third of Ukraine’s population – have fled their homes, according to the International Organization for Migration.
  • The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine says at least 10,582 civilians have been killed and nearly 20,000 have been wounded since the start of the war.
  • Switzerland has told the United Nations that it intends to organise a high-level Ukraine peace conference “by the summer”.

Fighting, weapons

  • Putin has claimed that 95 percent of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces had been modernised and that the Air Force had just taken delivery of four new supersonic nuclear-capable bombers.
  • The Ukrainian Air Force says it downed a rare Russian spy plane, an A-50, over the Azov Sea, its chief Mykola Oleshchuk said.
  • Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Moscow’s forces in occupied Ukraine where he was briefed that Russian forces were on the offensive after taking full control of the industrial hub of Avdiivka, according to an army statement.
  • Russian forces launched 28 attacks on Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy province targeting five communities, the Kyiv Independent newspaper has reported citing local authorities.
  • At least one man was killed in a Russian drone attack in the southern city of Odesa, regional governor Oleh Kiper wrote on social media, adding that three other people were wounded.
  • Russian strikes also killed one civilian in the town of Myrnohrad, in the Donetsk province, and two others in the southeastern city of Dnipro, local officials say.
  • Biden has renewed calls for lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to unblock a $60bn aid package for Ukraine, warning that “history is waiting” and “failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will not be forgotten”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies