Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Russian invasion of Ukraine
Part of the
2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.svg
Military situation as of 8 June 2023
   Controlled by Ukraine
   Controlled by Russia 
(Detailed map)
Date24 February 2022 – present
(1 year, 3 months, 2 weeks and 2 days)
Ukraine, also Russia
Status Ongoing (list of engagements · territorial control · timeline of events)
Supported by:
Commanders and leaders
Units involved
Order of battle Order of battle
Pre-invasion at border:
Pre-invasion total strength:
900,000 military[6]
554,000 paramilitary[6]
In February 2023:
+ 200,000 newly mobilised soldiers[7]
In May 2023:
300,000+ active personnel in Ukraine[8]
Pre-invasion total strength:
196,600 military[9]
102,000 paramilitary[9]
July 2022 total strength:
up to 700,000[10]
Casualties and losses
Reports vary widely, see § Casualties for details.

On 24 February 2022,

fled the country
by May 2023.

For months before the invasion, Russian troops had been concentrating around Ukraine's borders while Russian officials repeatedly denied plans to attack Ukraine. On 24 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" to support the Russian-controlled breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, whose military forces had been fighting Ukraine in the Donbas conflict. He said the goal was to "demilitarise" and "denazify" Ukraine. Putin espoused irredentist views, challenged Ukraine's right to exist, and falsely claimed that Ukraine was governed by neo-Nazis who persecuted the ethnic Russian minority. Minutes later, Russian air strikes and a ground invasion were launched along a northern front from Belarus towards Kyiv, a north-eastern front towards Kharkiv, a southern front from Crimea, and a south-eastern front from the Donbas. In response, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy enacted martial law and ordered a general mobilisation.

Russian troops had retreated from the northern front by April. On the southern and south-eastern fronts, Russia captured Kherson in March and then Mariupol in May after a destructive siege. On 18 April, Russia launched a renewed battle of Donbas. Russian forces continued to bomb both military and civilian targets far from the front line, including Ukraine's energy grid throughout the winter. In late 2022, Ukraine launched counteroffensives in the south and in the east. Soon after, Russia announced the illegal annexation of four partly-occupied oblasts. In November, Ukraine retook parts of Kherson Oblast, including the city of Kherson. On 7 February 2023, Russia mobilised nearly 200,000 soldiers for a renewed offensive towards Bakhmut.

The invasion has been met with widespread

media censorship. Over 1,000 companies left Russia and Belarus in response to the invasion. The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation into possible crimes against humanity, war crimes, abduction of children, and genocide during the invasion, issuing an arrest warrant for Putin
in March 2023.


After the

Charter for European Security, which "reaffirm[ed] the inherent right of each and every participating state to be free to choose or change its security arrangements, including treaties of alliance".[14] After the Soviet Union dissolved, several former Eastern Bloc countries joined NATO, partly due to regional security threats such as the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, the War in Abkhazia (1992–1993) and the First Chechen War (1994–1996).[15] Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, claimed NATO members had promised in 1990 not to let any Eastern European countries join, but this is disputed.[16][17] At the 2008 Bucharest summit, Ukraine and Georgia sought to join NATO.[18] The response from NATO members was divided, with Western European countries worried about antagonising Russia.[19] NATO refused to offer Ukraine and Georgia membership, but also issued a statement agreeing that "these countries will become members of NATO" one day. Putin strongly opposed the NATO membership bids,[20] and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia would do everything it could to prevent their admittance.[21]

Ukraine, with the annexed Crimea in the south and two Russia-backed separatist republics in Donbas
in the east

Ukrainian unrest, Russian activity in Crimea and Donbas

In November 2013, Ukrainian president

armed Russia-backed separatists seized Ukrainian government buildings, proclaiming the independent Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic.[23][24] Russian troops were involved in the conflict.[25][26][27] The Minsk agreements signed in September 2014 and February 2015 were a bid to stop the fighting, but ceasefires repeatedly failed.[28] A dispute emerged over the role of Russia: Normandy Format members France, Germany, and Ukraine saw Minsk as an agreement between Russia and Ukraine, whereas Russia insisted Ukraine should negotiate directly with the two separatist republics.[29][30] In 2021, Putin refused offers from Zelenskyy to hold high-level talks, and the Russian government endorsed an article by former president Dmitry Medvedev arguing that it was pointless to deal with Ukraine while it remained a "vassal" of the United States.[31]

The annexation of Crimea led to a new wave of Russian nationalism, with much of the Russian

Timothy Snyder described Putin's ideas as imperialism.[36] British journalist Edward Lucas described it as historical revisionism.[37] Other observers note that the Russian leadership holds a distorted view of modern Ukraine, as well as its history.[38][39][40]


In March and April 2021, Russia began a major military build-up near the Russo-Ukrainian border. A second build-up followed from October 2021 to February 2022, in both Russia and Belarus.

Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov on 20 February 2022,[43] and Russian ambassador to the Czech Republic Alexander Zmeevsky on 23 February 2022.[46][47]

Putin's chief national security adviser,

May 2021, said that Russia may use "forceful methods" to "thwart or avert unfriendly actions that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation".[50][51] Sources say the decision to invade Ukraine was made by Putin and a small group of war hawks or siloviki in Putin's inner circle, including Patrushev and minister of defence Sergei Shoigu.[52]

(orange) when the 2022 invasion began

During the second build-up, Russia demanded that NATO sign a treaty barring Ukraine from ever joining NATO, and demanded multinational forces be removed from NATO's Eastern European member states.[53] Russia threatened an unspecified military response if NATO followed an "aggressive line".[54] These demands were widely seen as non-viable; Eastern European states had willingly joined NATO for security reasons, and their governments sought protection from Russian irredentism.[55] A treaty to prevent Ukraine joining would go against NATO's "open door" policy, despite NATO's unenthusiastic response to Ukrainian requests to join.[56] NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg replied that "Russia has no say" on whether Ukraine joins, and that "Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence to try to control their neighbors".[57] NATO's official policy is that it does not seek confrontation, and NATO and Russia had co-operated until Russia annexed Crimea.[58]

neutrality and renounce aspirations to join NATO; however, Zelenskyy said Putin could not be trusted to uphold such a settlement.[59]

Putin's invasion announcement

On 21 February, Putin

Federation Council of Russia authorised the use of military force abroad.[61]

Putin's address to the nation on 24 February 2022. Minutes after Putin's announcement, the invasion began.

On 24 February, before 5 a.m. Kyiv time,[62] Putin made another address, announcing that Russia was launching a "special military operation", and "effectively declared war on Ukraine".[63][64] He said the purpose of the operation was to "protect the people" of the Donbas, in the Russian-controlled breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. He falsely claimed they had been "been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime"[65] Putin falsely claimed that Ukraine's government were neo-Nazis under Western control, that Ukraine was developing nuclear weapons, and that NATO was building up military infrastructure in Ukraine to threaten Russia.[66] He said Russia sought the "demilitarisation and denazification" of Ukraine.[67] Putin said he had no plans to occupy Ukraine and supported the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination.[66] Within minutes of Putin's announcement, Russian missiles struck targets throughout Ukraine,[68] and Russian troops invaded from the north, east and south.[69] Later an alleged report from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) was leaked, claiming that the intelligence agency had not been aware of Putin's plan to invade Ukraine.[70]


The invasion began at dawn on 24 February,

Z military symbol (a non-Cyrillic letter), believed to be a measure to prevent friendly fire.[42]

When the invasion began, Zelenskyy declared

general mobilisation of all Ukrainian males between 18 and 60 years old,[79] prohibiting them from leaving the country.[80] Wagner Group mercenaries and Chechen forces reportedly made several attempts to assassinate Zelenskyy. The Ukrainian government said these efforts were thwarted by anti-war officials in Russia's FSB, who shared intelligence of the plans.[81] The Russian invasion was unexpectedly met by fierce Ukrainian resistance.[82] In Kyiv, Russia failed to take the city as its attacks were repulsed at the suburbs during the battles of Irpin, Hostomel and Bucha. The Russian army tried to encircle the capital, but Ukrainian forces managed to hold ground. Ukraine utilised Western arms to great effectiveness, including the Javelin anti-tank missile and the Stinger anti-aircraft missile, thinning Russian supply lines and stalling the offensive.[83] The defense of the Ukrainian capital was under the command of Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi.[84]

On 9 March, a column of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles was

A third axis was deployed towards Kharkiv by the Western Military District (eastern front), with the 1st Guards Tank Army and 20th Combined Arms Army. A fourth, southern front originating in occupied Crimea and Russia's Rostov oblast with an eastern axis towards Odesa and a western area of operations toward Mariupol was opened by the Southern Military District, including the 58th, 49th, and 8th Combined Arms Army, the latter also commanding the 1st and 2nd Army Corps of the Russian separatist forces in Donbas.[91] By 7 April, Russian troops deployed to the northern front by the Russian Eastern Military District pulled back from the Kyiv offensive, apparently to resupply and redeploy to the Donbas region to reinforce the renewed invasion of south-eastern Ukraine. The north-eastern front, including the Central Military District, was similarly withdrawn for resupply and redeployment to south-eastern Ukraine.[91][92] On 18 April, retired Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, the former US ambassador to NATO, reported in a PBS NewsHour interview that Russia had repositioned its troops to initiate a new assault on Eastern Ukraine which would be limited to Russia's original deployment of 150,000 to 190,000 troops for the invasion, though the troops were being well supplied from adequate weapon stockpiles in Russia. For Lute, this contrasted sharply with the vast size of the Ukrainian conscription of all-male Ukrainian citizens between 16 and 60 years of age, but without adequate weapons in Ukraine's highly limited stockpiles of weapons.[93] On 26 April, delegates of the US and 40 allied nations met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss forming a coalition to provide economic support and military supplies and refitting to Ukraine.[94] Following Putin's Victory Day speech in early May, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said no short term resolution to the invasion should be expected.[95]

Ukraine's reliance on Western-supplied equipment constrained operational effectiveness, as supplying countries feared that Ukraine would use Western-made matériel to strike targets in Russia.[96] Military experts disagreed on the future of the conflict; some suggested that Ukraine should trade territory for peace,[97] while others believed that Ukraine could maintain its resistance thanks to the Russian losses.[98]

By 30 May, disparities between Russian and Ukrainian artillery were apparent with Ukrainian artillery being vastly outgunned by range and number.[96] In response to US President Joe Biden's indication that enhanced artillery would be provided to Ukraine, Putin indicated that Russia would expand its invasion front to include new cities in Ukraine and in apparent retribution ordered a missile strike against Kyiv on 6 June after not directly attacking the city for several weeks.[99] On 10 June 2022, Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine's military intelligence, stated during the Severodonetsk campaign that the frontlines were where the future of the invasion would be decided: "This is an artillery war now, and we are losing in terms of artillery. Everything now depends on what [the west] gives us. Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our western partners have given us about 10% of what they have."[100] On 29 June, Reuters reported that Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, updating U.S. intelligence assessment of the Russian invasion, said that U.S. intelligence agencies agree that the invasion will continue "for an extended period of time ... In short, the picture remains pretty grim and Russia's attitude toward the West is hardening."[101] On 5 July, BBC reported that extensive destruction by the Russian invasion would cause immense financial damage to Ukraine's reconstruction economy stating: "Ukraine needs $750bn for a recovery plan and Russian oligarchs should contribute to the cost, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has told a reconstruction conference in Switzerland."[102]

On 20 February, Biden visited Kyiv in person on a diplomatic mission to assure Zelenskyy and his government of sustaining US financial and military supplies support on the eve of the end of the first year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[103]

Initial invasion of Ukraine (24 February – 7 April)

The invasion began on 24 February, launched out of Belarus to target Kyiv, and from the northeast against the city of Kharkiv. The southeastern front was conducted as two separate spearheads, from Crimea and the southeast against Luhansk and Donetsk.[76][77]

Kyiv and northern front

The Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest aircraft ever built, was destroyed during the Battle of Antonov Airport

Russian efforts to capture Kyiv included a probative spearhead on 24 February, from Belarus south along the west bank of the

Dnipro River, apparently to encircle the city from the west, supported by two separate axes of attack from Russia along the east bank of the Dnipro: the western at Chernihiv, and the eastern at Sumy. These were likely intended to encircle Kyiv from the north-east and east.[72][71]

"The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride."

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, allegedly 25 February 2022, Associated Press

Russia apparently tried to seize Kyiv quickly, with

gained control of the ghost towns of Chernobyl and Pripyat.[110][111] Russian Airborne Forces attempted to seize two key airfields near Kyiv, launching an airborne assault on Antonov Airport,[112][113] and a similar landing at Vasylkiv, near Vasylkiv Air Base, on 26 February.[114][115]

By early March, Russian advances along the west side of the Dnipro were limited by Ukrainian defences.

a large Russian convoy, reportedly 64 kilometres (40 mi) long, had made little progress toward Kyiv.[116] The London-based think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) assessed Russian advances from the north and east as "stalled".[117] Advances from Chernihiv largely halted as a siege began there. Russian forces continued to advance on Kyiv from the northwest, capturing Bucha, Hostomel, and Vorzel by 5 March,[118][119] though Irpin remained contested as of 9 March.[120] By 11 March, the lengthy convoy had largely dispersed and taken cover.[121] On 16 March, Ukrainian forces began a counter-offensive to repel Russian forces.[122] Unable to achieve a quick victory in Kyiv, Russian forces switched their strategy to indiscriminate bombing and siege warfare.[123][124]

On 25 March, a Ukrainian counter-offensive retook several towns to the east and west of Kyiv, including Makariv.[125][126] Russian troops in the Bucha area retreated north at the end of March. Ukrainian forces entered the city on 1 April.[127] Ukraine said it had recaptured the entire region around Kyiv, including Irpin, Bucha, and Hostomel, and uncovered evidence of war crimes in Bucha.[128] On 6 April, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said that the Russian "retraction, resupply, and redeployment" of their troops from the Kyiv area should be interpreted as an expansion of Putin's plans for Ukraine, by redeploying and concentrating his forces on Eastern Ukraine.[92] Kyiv was generally left free from attack apart from isolated missile strikes. One did occur while UN Secretary-General António Guterres was visiting Kyiv on 28 April to discuss with Zelenskyy the survivors of the siege of Mariupol. One person was killed and several were injured in the attack[129][130]

North-eastern front

Russian forces advanced into

urban fighting, and Ukrainian forces successfully held the city, claiming more than 100 Russian armoured vehicles were destroyed and dozens of soldiers were captured.[133] Russian forces also attacked Okhtyrka, deploying thermobaric weapons.[134]

On 4 March, Frederick Kagan wrote that the Sumy axis was then "the most successful and dangerous Russian avenue of advance on Kyiv", and commented that the geography favoured mechanised advances as the terrain "is flat and sparsely populated, offering few good defensive positions".[71] Travelling along highways, Russian forces reached Brovary, an eastern suburb of Kyiv, on 4 March.[72][71] The Pentagon confirmed on 6 April that the Russian army had left Chernihiv Oblast, but Sumy Oblast remained contested.[135] On 7 April, the governor of Sumy Oblast said that Russian troops were gone, but left behind rigged explosives and other hazards.[136]

Southern front

On 24 February, Russian forces took control of the

amphibious assault on the coast of the Sea of Azov 70 kilometres (43 mi) west of Mariupol. A US defence official said that Russian forces might be deploying thousands of marines from this beachhead.[145][146][147]


a counter-offensive on Horlivka,[157] controlled by the DPR since 2014.[158]

After renewed missile attacks on 14 March in Mariupol, the Ukrainian government said more than 2,500 had died.[159] By 18 March, Mariupol was completely encircled and fighting reached the city centre, hampering efforts to evacuate civilians.[160] On 20 March, an art school sheltering around 400 people, was destroyed by Russian bombs.[161] The Russians demanded surrender, and the Ukrainians refused.[76][77] On 24 March, Russian forces entered central Mariupol.[162] On 27 March, Ukrainian deputy prime minister Olha Stefanishyna said that "(m)ore than 85 percent of the whole town is destroyed."[163]

Putin told Emmanuel Macron in a phone call on 29 March that the bombardment of Mariupol would only end when the Ukrainians surrendered.[164] On 1 April, Russian troops refused safe passage into Mariupol to 50 buses sent by the United Nations to evacuate civilians, as peace talks continued in Istanbul.[165] On 3 April, following the retreat of Russian forces from Kyiv, Russia expanded its attack on Southern Ukraine further west, with bombardment and strikes against Odesa, Mykolaiv, and the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.[166][167]

Eastern front

In the east, Russian troops attempted to capture Kharkiv, less than 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the Russian border,[168][169] and met strong Ukrainian resistance. On 25 February, the Millerovo air base was attacked by Ukrainian military forces with OTR-21 Tochka missiles, which according to Ukrainian officials, destroyed several Russian Air Force planes and started a fire.[73][74] On 28 February, missile attacks killed several people in Kharkiv.[170] On 1 March, Denis Pushilin, head of the DPR, announced that DPR forces had almost completely surrounded the city of Volnovakha.[171] On 2 March, Russian forces were repelled from Sievierodonetsk during an attack against the city.[172] Izium was reportedly captured by Russian forces on 17 March,[173] although fighting continued.[174]

On 25 March, the Russian defence ministry said it would seek to occupy major cities in Eastern Ukraine.

PBS News reported renewed shelling and missile attacks in Kharkiv, as bad or worse than before, as peace talks with Russia were to resume in Istanbul.[178]

Amid the heightened Russian shelling of Kharkiv on 31 March, Russia reported a helicopter strike against an oil supply depot approximately 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of the border in Belgorod, and accused Ukraine of the attack.[179] Ukraine denied responsibility.[180] By 7 April, the renewed massing of Russian invasion troops and tank divisions around the towns of Izium, Sloviansk, and Kramatorsk prompted Ukrainian government officials to advise the remaining residents near the eastern border of Ukraine to evacuate to western Ukraine within 2–3 days, given the absence of arms and munitions previously promised to Ukraine by then.[181]

Southeastern front (8 April – 5 September)

By 17 April, Russian progress on the south-eastern front appeared to be impeded by opposing Ukrainian forces in the large, heavily fortified Azovstal steel mill and surrounding area in Mariupol.[182]

On 19 April, The New York Times confirmed that Russia had launched a renewed invasion front referred to as an "eastern assault" across a 480-kilometre (300 mi) front extending from Kharkiv to Donetsk and Luhansk, with simultaneous missile attacks again directed at Kyiv in the north and Lviv in Western Ukraine.[183] As of 30 April, a NATO official described Russian advances as "uneven" and "minor".[184] An anonymous US Defence Official called the Russian offensive "very tepid", "minimal at best", and "anaemic".[185] In June 2022 the chief spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defence Igor Konashenkov revealed that Russian troops were divided between the Army Groups "Center" commanded by Colonel General Aleksander Lapin and "South" commanded by Army General Sergey Surovikin.[186] On 20 July, Lavrov announced that Russia would respond to the increased military aid being received by Ukraine from abroad as justifying the expansion of its special military operation to include objectives in both the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.[187]

Russian Ground Forces started recruiting volunteer battalions from the regions in June 2022 to create a new 3rd Army Corps within the Western Military District, with a planned strength estimated at 15,500–60,000 personnel.[188][189] Its units were deployed to the front around the time of Ukraine's 9 September Kharkiv oblast counteroffensive, in time to join the Russian retreat, leaving behind tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and personnel carriers: the 3rd Army Corps "melted away" according to Forbes, having little or no impact on the battlefield along with other irregular forces.[190][191]

Fall of Mariupol

On 13 April, Russian forces intensified their attack on the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol, and the Ukrainian defence forces that remained there.[192] By 17 April, Russian forces had surrounded the factory. Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal said that the Ukrainian soldiers had vowed to ignore the renewed ultimatum to surrender and to fight to the last soul.[193] On 20 April, Putin said that the siege of Mariupol could be considered tactically complete, since the 500 Ukrainian troops entrenched in bunkers within the Azovstal iron works and estimated 1,000 Ukrainian civilians were completely sealed off from any type of relief in their siege.[194]

After consecutive meetings with Putin and Zelenskyy, UN Secretary-General Guterres on 28 April said he would attempt to organise an emergency evacuation of survivors from Azovstal in accordance with assurances he had received from Putin on his visit to the Kremlin.[195] On 30 April, Russian troops allowed civilians to leave under UN protection.[196] By 3 May, after allowing approximately 100 Ukrainian civilians to depart from the Azovstal steel factory, Russian troops renewed non-stop bombardment of the steel factory.[197] On 6 May, The Telegraph reported that Russia had used thermobaric bombs against the remaining Ukrainian soldiers, who had lost contact with the Kyiv government; in his last communications, Zelenskyy had authorised the commander of the besieged steel factory to surrender as necessary under the pressure of increased Russian attacks.[198] On 7 May, the Associated Press reported that all civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel works at the end of the three-day ceasefire.[199]

A children's hospital in Mariupol after a Russian airstrike

After the last civilians evacuated from the Azovstal bunkers, nearly two thousand Ukrainian soldiers remained barricaded there, with 700 injured; they were able to communicate a plea for a military corridor to evacuate, as they expected summary execution if they surrendered to the Russians.[200] Reports of dissent within the Ukrainian troops at Azovstal were reported by Ukrainskaya Pravda on 8 May indicating that the commander of the Ukrainian Marines assigned to defend the Azovstal bunkers made an unauthorised acquisition of tanks, munitions, and personnel, broke out from the position there and fled. The remaining soldiers spoke of a weakened defensive position in Azovstal as a result, which allowed progress to advancing Russian lines of attack.[201] Ilia Somolienko, deputy commander of the remaining Ukrainian troops barricaded at Azovstal, said: "We are basically here dead men. Most of us know this and it's why we fight so fearlessly."[202]

On 16 May, the Ukrainian General staff announced that the Mariupol garrison had "fulfilled its combat mission" and that final evacuations from the Azovstal steel factory had begun. The military said that 264 service members were evacuated to Olenivka under Russian control, while 53 of them who were "seriously injured" had been taken to a hospital in

Azov Regiment.[205]

Fall of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk

A Russian missile attack on Kramatorsk railway station in the city of Kramatorsk took place on 8 April, reportedly killing at least 52[206] and injuring 87 to 300.[207] On 11 April, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine expected a major new Russian offensive in the east.[208] American officials said that Russia had withdrawn or been repulsed elsewhere in Ukraine, and therefore was preparing a retraction, resupply, and redeployment of infantry and tank divisions to the south-eastern Ukraine front.[209][210] Military satellites photographed extensive Russian convoys of infantry and mechanised units deploying south from Kharkiv to Izium on 11 April, apparently part of the planned Russian redeployment of its north-eastern troops to the south-eastern front of the invasion.[211]

On 18 April, with Mariupol almost entirely overtaken by Russian forces, the Ukrainian government announced that the second phase of the reinforced invasion of the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions had intensified with expanded invasion forces occupying of the Donbas.[212]

On 22 May, the BBC reported that after the fall of Mariupol, Russia had intensified offensives in Luhansk and Donetsk while concentrating missile attacks and intense artillery fire on Sievierodonetsk, the largest city under Ukrainian control in Luhansk province.[213]

On 23 May, Russian forces were reported entering the city of Lyman, fully capturing the city by 26 May.[214][215] Ukrainian forces were reported leaving Sviatohirsk.[216] By 24 May, Russian forces captured the city of Svitlodarsk.[217] On 30 May, Reuters reported that Russian troops had breached the outskirts of Sievierodonetsk.[218] By 2 June, The Washington Post reported that Sievierodonetsk was on the brink of capitulation to Russian occupation with over 80 per cent of the city in the hands of Russian troops.[219] On 3 June, Ukrainian forces reportedly began a counter-attack in Sievierodonetsk. By 4 June, Ukrainian government sources claimed 20% or more of the city had been recaptured.[220]

On 12 June, it was reported that possibly as many as 800 Ukrainian civilians (as per Ukrainian estimates) and 300–400 soldiers (as per Russian sources) were besieged at the Azot chemical factory in Severodonetsk.[221][222] With the Ukrainian defences of Severodonetsk faltering, Russian invasion troops began intensifying their attack upon the neighbouring city of Lysychansk as their next target city in the invasion.[223] On 20 June it was reported that Russian troops continued to tighten their grip on Severodonetsk by capturing surrounding villages and hamlets surrounding the city, most recently the village of Metelkine.[224]

On 24 June, CNN reported that, amid continuing scorched-earth tactics being applied by advancing Russian troops, Ukraine's armed forces were ordered to evacuate the Severodonetsk; several hundred civilians taking refuge in the Azot chemical plant were left behind in the withdrawal, with some comparing their plight to that of the civilians at the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol in May.[225] On 3 July, CBS announced that the Russian defense ministry claimed that the city of Lysychansk had been captured and occupied by Russian forces.[226] On 4 July, The Guardian reported that after the fall of the Luhansk oblast, that Russian invasion troops would continue their invasion into the adjacent Donetsk Oblast to attack the cities of Sloviansk and Bakhmut.[227]

Kharkiv front

On 14 April, Ukrainian troops reportedly blew up a bridge between Kharkiv and Izium used by Russian forces to redeploy troops to Izium, impeding the Russian convoy.[228]

On 5 May, David Axe writing for Forbes stated that the Ukrainian army had concentrated its 4th and 17th Tank Brigades and the 95th Air Assault Brigade around Izium for possible rearguard action against the deployed Russian troops in the area; Axe added that the other major concentration of Ukraine's forces around Kharkiv included the 92nd and 93rd Mechanised Brigades which could similarly be deployed for rearguard action against Russian troops around Kharkiv or link up with Ukrainian troops contemporaneously being deployed around Izium.[229]

On 13 May, BBC reported that Russian troops in Kharkiv were being retracted and redeployed to other fronts in Ukraine following the advances of Ukrainian troops into surrounding cities and Kharkiv itself, which included the destruction of strategic

Seversky Donets river and previously used for rapid tank deployment in the region.[230]

Kherson-Mykolaiv front

Missile attacks and bombardment of the key cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa continued as the second phase of the invasion began.[183] On 22 April, Russia's Brigadier General Rustam Minnekayev in a defence ministry meeting said that Russia planned to extend its Mykolayiv–Odesa front after the siege of Mariupol further west to include the breakaway region of Transnistria on the Ukrainian border with Moldova.[231][232] The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine described this intention as imperialism, saying that it contradicted previous Russian claims that it did not have territorial ambitions in Ukraine and that the statement was an admission that "the goal of the 'second phase' of the war is not victory over the mythical Nazis, but simply the occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine".[231] Georgi Gotev, writing for Reuters on 22 April, noted that occupying Ukraine from Odesa to Transnistria would transform it into a landlocked nation without any practical access to the Black Sea.[233] On 24 April, Russia resumed its missile strikes on Odesa, destroying military facilities and causing two dozen civilian casualties.[234]

On 27 April, Ukrainian sources indicated that explosions had destroyed two Russian broadcast towers in Transnistria, primarily used to rebroadcast Russian television programming.[235] At the end of April, Russia renewed missile attacks on runways in Odesa, destroying some of them.[236] During the week of 10 May, Ukrainian troops began to take military action to dislodge Russian forces installing themselves on Snake Island in the Black Sea approximately 200 kilometres (120 mi) from Odesa.[237] On 30 June 2022, Russia announced that it had withdrawn troops from the island after objectives were completed.[238][239]

On 23 July, CNBC reported a Russian missile strike on Ukrainian port Odesa stating that the action was swiftly condemned by world leaders, a dramatic revelation amid a recently U.N. and Turkish-brokered deal that secured a sea corridor for grains and other foodstuff exports.[240][241] On 31 July, CNN reported significant intensification of the rocket attacks and bombing of Mykolaiv by Russians also killing Ukrainian grain tycoon Oleksiy Vadaturskyi in the city during the bombing.[242]

Zaporizhzhia front

Russian forces continued to fire missiles and drop bombs on the key cities of

Bezimenne near Donetsk, from whence they were to move to Zaporizhzhia.[245] On 28 June, Reuters reported that a Russian missile attack was launched upon the city of Kremenchuk north-west or Zaporizhzhia detonating in a public mall and causing at least 18 deaths while drawing condemnation from France's Emmanuel Macron, among other world leaders, who spoke of it as being a "war crime".[246]

On 7 July, it was reported that after the Russians captured the nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia earlier in the invasion, they installed heavy artillery and mobile missile launchers between the separate reactor walls of the nuclear installation, using it as a shield against possible Ukrainian counterattack. A counterattack against the installed Russian artillery sites would not be possible without the risk of radiation fallout in case of near misses.[247] On 19 August, Russia agreed to allow IAEA inspectors access to the Zaporizhzhia plant from Ukrainian-held territory, after a phone call between Macron and Putin. A temporary ceasefire around the plant still needed to be agreed for the inspection.[248][249]

Russia reported that 12 attacks with over 50 artillery shells explosions had been recorded at the plant and the staff town of Enerhodar, by 18 August.[250] Also on 19 August, Tobias Ellwood, chair of the UK's Defence Select Committee, said that any deliberate damage to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant that could cause radiation leaks would be a breach of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, according to which an attack on a member state of NATO is an attack on all of them. The next day, United States congressman Adam Kinzinger said that any radiation leak would kill people in NATO countries, which would be an automatic activation of Article 5.[251][252]

Shelling hit

kV transmission line to the Dniprovska substation, which was the only one of the four 750 kV transmission lines that had not yet been damaged and cut by military action, passes over the ash dumps. At 12:12 p.m. on 25 August the line cut off due to the fire below, disconnecting the plant and its two operating reactors from the national grid for the first time since it started operating in 1985. In response, reactor 5's back-up generators and coolant pumps started up, and reactor 6 reduced generation.[253]

Incoming power was still available via the 330 kV line to the substation at the coal-fired station, so the diesel generators were not essential for cooling reactor cores and spent fuel pools. The 750 kV line and reactor 6 resumed operation at 12:29 p.m., but the line was cut by fire again two hours later. The line, but not the reactors, resumed operation again later that day.[253] On 26 August, one reactor restarted in the afternoon and another in the evening, resuming electricity supplies to the grid.[254] On 29 August 2022, an IAEA team led by Rafael Grossi went to investigate the plant.[255] Lydie Evrard and Massimo Aparo were also in the leadership team. No leaks had been reported at the plant before their arrival but shelling had occurred days before.[256]

Russian annexations and Ukrainian counterattacks (6 September – 11 November 2022)

On 6 September 2022, Ukrainian forces launched a surprise counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region,

Tsakhia Elbegdorj accused Russia of using Russian Mongols as "cannon fodder".[267][268]

On 8 October 2022, the

missile strikes against Ukrainian civilian areas.[270] Since mid-October, Russia has carried out waves of strikes on Ukrainian electrical and water systems.[271]

Russian annexation of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts

In late September 2022, Russian-installed officials in Ukraine organised

sham elections, the official results showed overwhelming majorities in favor of annexation.[272]

On 30 September 2022, Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in an address to both houses of the Russian parliament.[273][274] Ukraine, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations all denounced the annexation as illegal.[275]

Zaporizhzhia front

Damage to a residential building in Zaporizhzhia following an airstrike on 9 October 2022. Putin has been labeled a war criminal by international experts.[276]

On 3 September 2022, an IAEA delegation visited the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia and on 6 September a report was published documenting damage and threats to the plant security caused by external shelling and the presence of occupying troops in the plant.[277][278] On 11 September, at 3:14 a.m., the sixth and final reactor was disconnected from the grid, "completely stopping" the plant. The statement from Energoatom said that "Preparations are underway for its cooling and transfer to a cold state".[279]

In the early hours of 9 October 2022, the Russian Armed Forces carried out an airstrike on a residential building in the city of Zaporizhzhia, killing 13 civilians and injuring 89 others.[280][281][282][283][284]

Kherson counteroffensive

Volodymyr Zelensky, participating in reraising the Ukrainian flag in Kherson a few days after the city's liberation

On 29 August, Zelenskyy advisedly vowed the start of a full-scale counteroffensive in the southeast. He first announced a counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied territory in the south concentrating on the Kherson-Mykolaiv region, a claim that was corroborated by the Ukrainian parliament as well as Operational Command South.[285][286][287][288][289]

On 4 September, Zelenskyy announced the liberation of two unnamed villages in Kherson Oblast and one in Donetsk Oblast. Ukrainian authorities released a photo showing the raising of the Ukrainian flag in Vysokopillia by Ukrainian forces.[290][291] Ukrainian attacks also continued along the southern frontline, though reports about territorial changes were largely unverifiable.[292] On 12 September, Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian forces had retaken a total of 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 sq mi) from Russia, in both the south and the east. The BBC stated that it could not verify these claims.[293]

In October, Ukrainian forces pushed further south towards the city of Kherson, taking control of 1,170 square kilometres (450 sq mi) of territory, with fighting extending to Dudchany.[294][295] On 9 November, defence minister Shoigu ordered Russian forces to leave part of Kherson Oblast, including the city of Kherson, and move to the eastern bank of the Dnieper.[296] On 11 November, Ukrainian troops entered Kherson, as Russia completed its withdrawal. This meant that Russian forces no longer had a foothold on the west (right) bank of the Dnieper.[297]

Kharkiv counteroffensive

   Controlled by Ukraine
   Occupied by Russia
Map of the Kharkiv counteroffensive as of 8 June 2023

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces launched another surprise counteroffensive on 6 September in the Kharkiv region,[257] beginning near Balakliia.[258] This counteroffensive was led by General Syrskyi.[259] By 7 September, Ukrainian forces had advanced some 20 kilometres (12 mi) into Russian occupied territory and claimed to have recaptured approximately 400 square kilometres (150 sq mi). Russian commentators said this was likely due to the relocation of Russian forces to Kherson in response to the Ukrainian offensive there.[298] On 8 September, Ukrainian forces captured Balakliia and advanced to within 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) of Kupiansk.[299] Military analysts said Ukrainian forces appeared to be moving towards Kupiansk, a major railway hub, with the aim of cutting off the Russian forces at Izium from the north.[300]

On 9 September, the Russian occupation administration of Kharkiv Oblast announced it would "evacuate" the civilian populations of Izium, Kupiansk and Velykyi Burluk. The Institute for the Study of War said it believed Kupiansk would likely fall in the next 72 hours,[301] while Russian reserve units were sent to the area by both road and helicopter.[302] On the morning of 10 September, photos emerged claiming to depict Ukrainian troops raising the Ukrainian flag in the centre of Kupiansk,[303] and the Institute for the Study of War said Ukrainian forces had captured approximately 2,500 square kilometres (970 sq mi) by effectively exploiting their breakthrough.[304] Later in the day, Reuters reported that Russian positions in northeast Ukraine had "collapsed" in the face of the Ukrainian assault, with Russian forces forced to withdraw from their base at Izium after being cut off by the capture of Kupiansk.[305]

By 15 September, an assessment by

UK's Ministry of Defence confirmed that Russia had either lost or withdrawn from almost all of their positions west of the Oskil river. The retreating units had also abandoned various high-value military assets.[306] The offensive continued pushing east and by 2 October, Ukrainian Armed Forces had liberated another key city in the Second Battle of Lyman.[307]

Winter stalemate, attrition campaign and military surge (12 November 2022 – present)

After the end of the twin Ukrainian counteroffensives, the fighting shifted to a semi-deadlock during the winter,[308] with heavy casualties but reduced motion of the frontline.[309] Russia launched a self-proclaimed winter offensive in eastern Ukraine, but the campaign ended in "disappointment" for Moscow, with the offensive stalling and gains being limited.[308][310] Analysts variously blamed the failure on Russia's lack of "trained men", and supply problems with artillery ammunition, among other problems.[308][310] Near the end of May, Mark Galeotti assessed that "after Russia’s abortive and ill-conceived winter offensive, which squandered its opportunity to consolidate its forces, Ukraine is in a relatively strong position".[311]

On 7 February, The New York Times reported that Russians had newly mobilised nearly 200,000 soldiers to participate in the offensive towards Nevske, against Ukraine troops already wearied by previous fighting.[312] The Russian private military company Wagner Group took on greater prominence in the war,[313] leading "grinding advances" in Bakhmut with tens of thousands of recruits from prison battalions taking part in "near suicidal" assaults on Ukrainian positions.[310]

By 16 April 2023, The New York Times reported that documents in the

2023 Pentagon document leaks estimated 189,500 to 223,000 Russian casualties, compared to 124,500 to 131,000 Ukrainian casualties.[314] Ukraine's running tally of Russian fatalities reached 190,000 at roughly the same time; however, Ukraine's population is only about one-third of Russia's.[315][316]

Battle of Bakhmut

Following defeat in Kherson and Kharkiv, Russian and Wagner forces have focused on taking the city of Bakhmut and breaking the half year long stalemate that has prevailed there since the start of the war. Russian forces have sought to encircle the city, attacking from the north via Soledar and after taking heavy casualties during the battle Russian and Wagner forces took control of the settlement on 16 January 2023.[317][318] Attacking from the south, the Russian defence ministry and Wagner forces claimed to have captured Klishchiivka, a village located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) southwest of Bakhmut in Donetsk on 20 January, however, this has yet to be independently verified.[319][320][321] This would mean that Bakhmut is facing attacks from north, south and east, with the sole line of supplies coming from the west via Chasiv Yar to fend off renewed Russian assaults.[322][323][324]

By 22 February, Russian forces had enveloped Bakhmut, from the east, south, and north.[325] By 3 March, Ukrainian soldiers destroyed two key bridges, creating the possibility for a controlled fighting withdrawal.[326] On 4 March, Bakhmut's deputy mayor told news services that there was street fighting but that Russian forces had not taken control of the city.[327][328] Also on 4 March, the chief of the Wagner Group said that the city was encircled except for one road still controlled by the Ukrainian military, as had been the case since 22 February.[329]

On 7 March, The New York Times reported that Ukrainian commanders were requesting permission from Kyiv to continue fighting against the Russians in the nearly fully surrounded and besieged city.[330] On 26 March, CNN reported that Wagner forces had claimed to have fully captured the tactically significant Azom factory in Bakhmut.[331] Appearing before the House Committee on Armed Services on 29 March, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported that, "for about the last 20, 21 days, the Russia have not made any progress whatsoever in and around Bakhmut". Milley described the severe casualties being inflicted upon the Russian forces there as a "slaughter-fest".[332] On 18 May 2023, The New York Times reported that Ukrainian forces launched a local counteroffensive, taking back swathes of territory to the north and south of Bakhmut over the course of a few days.[333][334]

Southern front

On 24 January 2023, The Wall Street Journal reported an intensification of fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region with both sides suffering heavy casualties.[335] An intense, three-week Russian assault near the coal-mining town of Vuhledar was called the largest tank battle of the war to date,[336] ended in disaster for Russian forces, with Ukrainian commanders and the British Ministry of Defense saying that Russia had lost "at least 130 tanks and armored personnel carriers" during the battle, and "a whole Russian brigade was effectively annihilated", respectively.[336][337]

Diplomatic developments

Increasing tension caused by diplomatic support by China of Russia's invasion was reported by The New York Times on 2 April 2023, with China viewing Russia's experience in Ukraine as possibly informing China's assessment of its contemporary tensions and diplomatic assessments concerning Taiwan.[338]

The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation into possible crimes against humanity, war crimes, abduction of children, and genocide during the invasion.[339][340] On 17 March 2023 the ICC issued a warrant for Putin's arrest,[341][342][343][344] alleging that Putin held criminal responsibility in the illegal deportation and transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[345][346][347] It was the first time that the ICC had issued an arrest warrant for the head of state of one of the five Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council[341] (the world's five principal nuclear powers).[348]

On 20 February, Biden visited Kyiv to assure Zelenskyy of sustaining US financial and military supplies support to Ukraine on the eve of the end of the first year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[103]

Continued infrastructure attacks

Continuing the infrastructure bombings that began after the Crimean Bridge explosions, on 15 November 2022, Russia fired 85 missiles at the Ukrainian power grid, causing major power outages in Kyiv and neighboring regions. A missile, initially reported to be Russian and later claimed to be "Russian-made", crossed into Poland, killing two people in Przewodów, which led to the top leaders of Poland holding an emergency meeting.[349] The next day, US president Joe Biden stated that the missile that struck Polish territory was 'unlikely' to have been fired from Russia.[350] On 31 December, Putin ordered an extensive and large missile and drone attack upon Kyiv accompanied by his declaration that he intends to increase the diplomatic and military ante of the war against Ukraine for all Russians to now be a "sacred duty to our ancestors and descendants".[351]

On 10 March 2023, The New York Times reported that Russia has converted its massive missile attacks of Ukraine towards the preferred use of hypersonic missile systems, which are more effective in evading conventional Ukrainian anti-missile defenses which were proving useful against conventional, non-hypersonic Russian missile systems.[352]

Events in Crimea

On 31 July 2022, Russian Navy Day commemorations were cancelled after a drone attack reportedly wounded several people at the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol.[353] On 9 August 2022, there were large explosions reported at Saky Air Base in western Crimea. Satellite imagery showed that at least eight aircraft were damaged or destroyed. The cause of the explosions is unknown, but may have been long-range missiles, sabotage by special forces or an accident;[354] Zaluzhnyi claimed on 7 September that it had been a Ukrainian missile attack.[355]

The base is located near the town of

Belbek Air Base, north of Sevastopol.[358]

On the morning of 8 October, the

Kerch Bridge, which links occupied Crimea with Russia, was hit by a large explosion which collapsed part of the roadway and caused damage to the railway line.[359]

Missile attacks and aerial warfare

Aerial warfare began on the first day of the invasion. By September, the Ukrainian air force was still at 80% of its prewar strength and had shot down about 55 Russian warplanes.[360][361] By late December, 173 Ukrainian aircraft and UAVs were confirmed to have been shot down, whereas Russia had lost 171 aircraft. With the beginning of the invasion, dozens of missile attacks were recorded across both Eastern Ukraine and Western Ukraine.[71][72] Dozens of missile strikes across Ukraine also reached as far west as Lviv.[73][74] Starting in mid-October, Russian forces launched massive missile strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure, intending to knock out energy facilities throughout the country.[362] By late November, hundreds of civilians had been killed and wounded by the attacks,[363] and millions of civilians had been left without power due to rolling blackouts.[364]

Dead bodies on 8 April 2022, after the Kramatorsk railway bombing

On 16 October, the

Shahed 136 drones to Russia,[367][368] agreeing with similar assessments by France and the United Kingdom. Iran denied sending arms for use in the Ukraine war.[369][370] On 22 October France, Britain and Germany formally called for an investigation by the UN team responsible for UNSCR 2231.[371] On 1 November, CNN reported that Iran was preparing to send ballistic missiles and other weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine.[372] On 21 November, CNN reported that an intelligence assessment had concluded that Iran planned to help Russia begin production of Iran-designed drones in Russia. The country making the intelligence assessment was not named.[373]

By 29 December, the Biden administration stated through diplomatic entreaties that Iran would need to curtail its supply of drones to Russia being used in its invasion of Ukraine, under the alternative that the United States would be compelled to redouble its supply of anti-drone missile intercept technology to Ukraine in order to nullify Iranian drone weaponry currently being deployed against Ukraine.[374]

In December, several attacks on Dyagilevo and Engels air bases in

Western Russia were allegedly carried out by drones launched from Ukraine causing 10 casualties in addition to heavily damaging two Tu-95 aircraft.[375][376]

Naval blockade and engagements

Russian warship, go fuck yourself!
The Russian Black Sea flagship Moskva was sunk on 14 April 2022, reportedly after being hit by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles

Ukraine lies on the

Russia stated on 26 February that US drones supplied intelligence to the Ukrainian navy to help target Russian warships in the Black Sea, which the US denied.

landing ship docked in Berdiansk – initially reported to be the Orsk and then its sister ship, the Saratov – was destroyed by a Ukrainian rocket attack.[391][126][139] In March 2022, the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) sought to create a safe sea corridor for commercial vessels to leave Ukrainian ports.[392] On 27 March, Russia established a sea corridor 80 miles (130 km) long and 3 miles (4.8 km) wide through its Maritime Exclusion Zone, for the transit of merchant vessels from the edge of Ukrainian territorial waters south-east of Odesa.[393][394] Ukraine closed its ports at MARSEC level 3, with sea mines laid in port approaches, until the end to hostilities.[395]

The Russian cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, was, according to Ukrainian sources and a US senior official,[396] hit on 13 April by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles, setting the ship on fire. The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed the warship had suffered serious damage due to a munition explosion caused by a fire, and said that its entire crew had been evacuated.[397] Pentagon spokesman John Kirby reported on 14 April that satellite images showed that the Russian warship had suffered a sizeable explosion onboard but was heading to the east for expected repairs and refitting in Sevastopol.[398] Later on the same day, the Russian Ministry of Defence stated that Moskva had sunk while under tow in rough weather.[399] On 15 April, Reuters reported that Russia launched an apparent retaliatory missile strike against the missile factory Luch Design Bureau in Kyiv where the Neptune missiles used in the Moskva attack were manufactured and designed.[400] On 5 May, a US official confirmed that the US gave "a range of intelligence" (including real-time battlefield targeting intelligence)[401] to assist in the sinking of the Moskva.[402]

In early May, Ukrainian forces launched counterattacks on Snake Island. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed to have repelled these counterattacks. Ukraine released footage of a Russian

Su-27 conducted a high-speed, low level bombing run on Russian-occupied Snake Island; the attack was captured on film by a Baykar Bayraktar TB2 drone.[405] On 1 June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserted that Ukraine's policy of mining its own harbours to impede Russia maritime aggression had contributed to the food export crisis, stating that: "If Kyiv solves the problem of demining ports, the Russian Navy will ensure the unimpeded passage of ships with grain to the Mediterranean Sea."[406] On 30 June 2022, Russia announced that it had withdrawn troops from the island in a "gesture of goodwill".[238] The withdrawal was later officially confirmed by Ukraine.[407]


The supreme commanders-in-chief are the heads of state of the respective governments: President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. Putin has reportedly meddled in operational decisions, bypassing senior commanders and giving orders directly to brigade commanders.[408] Ukraine's top military commander responsible for defence in the war is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi.[409] On Zaluzhnyi's leadership of the Ukrainian military, Milley has opined: "[He] has emerged as the military mind his country needed. His leadership enabled the Ukrainian armed forces to adapt quickly with battlefield initiative against the Russians."[410] Russia started its invasion with no overall commander, starting its so-called "special military operation" without expectation of serious resistance or a real war. Commanders of four military districts were each responsible for their own offensive campaign.[409]

After initial setbacks, commander of the Russian Southern Military District

Valerii Gerasimov (from 11 Jan 2023) successively having the role added to their responsibilities.[409] Russian president Putin may have personally rotated leaders through the top position to avoid responsibility for failures and prevent any one commander from claiming victory (like the tensions between Stalin and Zhukov after WWII).[412]

Russia has suffered a remarkably large number of casualties in the officer ranks, including quite a few generals.

Nuclear threats

Four days into the invasion, President Putin placed Russia's nuclear forces on high alert, raising fears that Russia could use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine, or a wider escalation of the conflict could occur. During April, Putin and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov made a number of threats alluding to the use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine and the countries supporting Ukraine.[413][414] On 14 April, CIA director William Burns said that "potential desperation" in the face of defeat could encourage President Putin to use tactical nuclear weapons.[415] In response to Russia's disregard of safety precautions during its occupation of the disabled former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl and its firing of missiles in the vicinity of the active Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, on 26 April President Zelenskyy called for an international discussion on regulating Russia's use of nuclear resources, stating: "no one in the world can feel safe knowing how many nuclear facilities, nuclear weapons and related technologies the Russian state has ... If Russia has forgotten what Chernobyl is, it means that global control over Russia's nuclear facilities, and nuclear technology is needed."[416] In August, shelling around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant developed into a crisis, prompting an emergency inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Ukraine has described the crisis as an act of nuclear terrorism by Russia.[417] On 19 September, CNBC reported that Biden's response to Russian uncertainties about its lack of combat success in its invasion stating: "President Joe Biden warned of a 'consequential' response from the U.S. if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to use nuclear or other non-conventional weapons... Asked what he would say to Putin if he was considering such action, Biden replied, 'Don't. Don't. Don't.'"[418] Following his statement made on 19 September, Biden appeared before the United Nations on 21 September and continued his criticism of Putin's nuclear sabre-rattling, stating that Putin was "overt, reckless and irresponsible... A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought."[419] In January 2023, Graham Allison, writing for Time, presented a seven-point summary of Putin's hypothetical intention to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.[420] In March 2023, Putin announced plans to install Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.[421]

Ukrainian resistance

Molotov cocktails
, 26 February 2022