War in Ukraine: a month that changed the world

Published: 08:01 PM, 23 Mar, 2022
War in Ukraine: a month that changed the world
Caption: Ukrainian firefighters work next to a digger amid the rubble of the Retroville shopping mall, a day after it was shelled by Russian forces in a residential district in the northwest of the Ukranian capital Kyiv.
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Russia invaded Ukraine in the early hours of February 24, setting off the worst conflict in Europe in decades.

We look back on a month of fighting that has killed hundreds of civilians, including dozens of children, and displaced over 10 million people.

- February 24: Russia invades - 

Russian President Vladimir Putin announces a "special military operation" to "demilitarise"and "de-nazify" the former Soviet state and protect Russian speakers in the country. He warns the international community against intervening.

A full-scale invasion starts with air and missile strikes on several cities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pledges to stay in Kyiv to lead the resistance.

- February 26: Stinging sanctions -

The West weighs in with unprecedented sanctions against Russia and military aid for Ukraine

A number of Russian banks are banished from the SWIFT interbank system.

Air spaces are closed to Russian aircraft and Russia is kicked out of sporting and cultural events.

- February 27: Nuclear threat -

With his troops quickly getting bogged down, Putin puts Russia's nuclear forces on high alert, citing "aggressive" statements by NATO members and the financial sanctions.

The dramatic move is seen as a warning to NATO not to intervene in Ukraine.

- February 28: First talks - 

During the first peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow, Russia sets out its demands, including the recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the "demilitarisation" and "de-nazification" of the Ukrainian state and the guarantee of its neutrality.

Zelensky appeals for "immediate" EU membership.

- March 3: Kherson falls -

Russian troops gain ground in the south, where they lay siege to the strategic port of Mariupol, in a bid to link up territory held by pro-Russian rebels with the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea.

On March 3, the southern city of Kherson becomes to first city to fall.

- March 4: Media crackdown -

Russia enacts a new law punishing "fake news" about what it terms its "special military operation" in Ukraine with jail terms of up to 15 years. Several international broadcasters suspend their coverage from Russia and an independent Russian radio station and TV channel close down.

NATO rejects Kyiv's pleas for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

- March 8: First evacuations -

Several attempts to evacuate residents trapped for days without power, water and heat in Mariupol fail in the face of continued shelling.

Ukraine and the UN reject Moscow's offer to evacuate people to Russia.

On May 8, the first humanitarian corridors are set up, allowing thousands of civilians to escape the northeastern city of Sumy and suburbs of Kyiv. Relief comes later to other regions.

- March 8: Oil embargo -

In a bid to starve Moscow of funds for the war, US President Joe Biden announces a ban on US imports of Russian oil and gas. The EU says it will cut its imports of Russian gas by two-thirds.

- March 13: Strikes near Poland -

The war nears the border with Poland, a NATO member, when 35 people are killed and more than 130 injured in air strikes on a military training ground outside the city of Lviv.

Help finally comes to Mariupol, with more than 160 cars driving out of the city on March 14.

- March 14: TV protest -

In a sign of cracks in domestic support for the war, a Russian journalist interrupts the country's most-watched evening news broadcast to hold up a sign denouncing the war.

As central Kyiv comes under fire, peace talks intensify.

- March 16: 'Remember Pearl Harbor' - 

Zelensky likens the invasion of his country to the attack on Pearl Harbor that drew the US into World War II in an emotional video address to the US Congress. He repeats his appeals for a no-fly zone.

- March 17: 'War criminal' Putin -

US President Joe Biden brands Putin a "war criminal" following the bombing of a theatre in Mariupol where families were sheltering. Moscow reacts by saying US-Russia ties are at breaking point.

- March 18: Hypersonic weapons -

Russia says it has used hypersonic missiles for the first time in Ukraine to destroy a weapons storage site in the west of the country.

- March 22: Zelensky eyes 'compromise' -

Zelensky appeals for direct talks with Putin. He says he is prepared to discuss the status of Russian-occupied Crimea and two breakaway Moscow-backed regions in eastern Ukraine but that any "compromise" would have to be ratified by Ukrainians in a referendum. 

Russia calls for "more substantial" talks.


Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.