Russo-Ukrainian War: Key points

Riya Dasgupta, Staff Writer

To those who have not been following updates, the Russian and Ukraine war may seem like “old news.” However, the reality is that new information is released every day, most of which are never good reports. The Russo-Ukrainian war officially began in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and began arming and abetting separatists in the country’s southeast. Russia’s seizure of Crimea was the first time since World War II that a European state annexed the territory of another. More recently, however, is the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, started by President Vladmir Putin of Russia on Feb 24, 2022. The invasion has been ongoing for the past year and two months. During the invasion, there has been a total of around 9,000 – 16,502 confirmed killed civilians, with estimates ranging from 30,000 – 100,000. The death toll for soldiers is predictably worse, with 124,500 – 131,000 casualties and 16,000 – 17,500 killed among Ukrainian forces (US Documentation), and an estimated 150,000 killed and wounded. In the Russian forces, there have been 5,095 killed who have been confirmed by names, yet estimates of wounded and killed range from 200,000 – 220,000+ casualties (US Estimate) and 9,000+ killed (BBC News Russian & Mediazona estimate).

Feb. 24, 2022

The first key point of the invasion was the thing that is the key point of most wars: the initial attack. In the early hours of Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine. Kyiv’s Western allies had been warning of looming Russian aggression for months, however, Putin’s decision still came as a shock to many in Ukraine and across the world. Speaking on Russian state television, he announced the launch of what he called a “special military operation” to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine. Moments later, the first explosions were heard across Ukraine. Amid the chaos of the opening hours of the war, rumors started to swirl about Ukraine’s leadership fleeing the country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his team reacted by filming a video of themselves in central Kyiv, reassuring the nation. “We are all here defending our independence, our state and it will remain so. Glory to our defenders! Glory to our women defenders! Glory to Ukraine!” Zelensky said. The president had refused a US offer to evacuate, where he stated his famous line: “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

March 2, 2022

The brutality of Russia’s invasion forced hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians to flee the country. The United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) said that at least 100,000 people had left their homes in the first 24 hours of the military assault. Thousands of cars formed queues at the borders, with people waiting several days to cross into neighboring countries such as Poland. Many others fled by train, waiting at train stations for days to cram into overcrowded carriages. The majority were women, children and the elderly, as men of fighting age were largely prohibited from leaving the country.

March 16, 2022

The bombing of Mariupol’s Drama Theater was among the most brazen of Russia’s attacks on civilians. Ukrainian officials estimated 1,300 people were sheltering in the theater in the center of a city which had, at that point, been under siege for weeks. Around 300 died that day, authorities said at the time, but subsequent reports suggested the death toll could be higher. Russia, which had been bombarding the city for weeks, denied its forces were responsible. Painted on the ground outside the building, in giant letters visible from the air, was the word “CHILDREN.”

April 1, 2022

When Russian troops withdrew from Bucha in early April, they left behind a trail of destruction and evidence of summary executions, brutality and indiscriminate shelling. Images showing dozens of bodies of civilians scattered around a single street in Bucha prompted calls for Russia to be investigated for war crimes. Russia made baseless claims that the images were fake and has prosecuted several Russian journalists and dissidents who spoke up about the killings for spreading “false information” about the war. International experts from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said they found “grave breaches” of international humanitarian law by Russian forces.

Sept. 1, 2022

A blistering Ukrainian counteroffensive in eastern Ukraine in September recaptured large swaths of territory and forced Russian troops to flee the Kharkiv region. Moscow tried to spin the hasty withdrawal as “regrouping.” But in a sign of just how badly things were going for Russia, the military was publicly criticized by a number of high-profile Kremlin loyalists including Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who supplied thousands of fighters to the offensive.

Sept. 21, 2022

Following a string of embarrassing defeats in Ukraine, Putin announced Russia’s first mobilization since World War II on Sept. 21. The controversial draft sparked protests, a rare sight in Russia, and an exodus of men of fighting age from the country. The partial mobilization was beset by errors and produced fighters that were poorly equipped and largely untrained. However, it significantly increased Russia’s troop numbers.

Oct. 10, 2022

A new phase of the war began when Russia launched the first of several waves of missile strikes on Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure. Using missiles, artillery shells and Iranian-made drones, Moscow began targeting Ukrainian power facilities, leaving large areas of the country without power and water.

Feb. 20, 2023

Biden made a highly symbolic surprise visit to Kyiv on Feb 20, his first since Russia’s full-scale invasion. Standing alongside Zelensky, the US president recalled how the pair spoke by phone as Russian forces rolled in. “One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” Biden declared. “The Americans stand with you and the world stands with you.” Zelensky said Biden’s visit brought Ukraine “closer to victory.” The two leaders went on a walkabout in Kyiv just as air raid sirens sounded across the city.

The Russo-Ukrainian war is far from over, and while there is not much we as individuals can do to help, everything makes a difference. There are numerous charities you can donate to such as UNRefugees and RazonforUkraine, and staying informed is a great way to potentially help out. For more information about the war, you can go to Associated Press; or any reliable news station.