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explainer

Russia launched a wide-ranging offensive against Ukraine early Feb. 23, attacking from three directions with air strikes in cities across the country. It’s the largest attack on a European state since the Second World War. The invasion follows months of escalating tensions, and a build-up of Russian troops on all sides of Ukraine.

Here’s what that looks like in maps.


Wednesday

On Wednesday, March 8,

Monday

On Monday, March 7, Russia said it would open humanitarian corridors out of Ukrainian cities. Ukraine called it an “immoral” stunt as some of the passages led to Belarus and Russia and Russian forces continued to pummel Ukrainian cities. Meanwhile, Ukraine said a Russian general was killed in the fighting around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. It was not possible to confirm the death independently. Russia has not commented. Finally, a third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine concluded with little progress.


Sunday

On Sunday, March 6, Russian shells struck civilians trying to evacuate from Irpin, killing civilians, port city of Odesa prepared for an imminent attack. The United Nations confirmed at least 360 civilians have been killed so far in the war. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky heaped criticism on Western leaders during a video statement, saying the economic sanctions imposed against Russia are “not sufficient.”


Saturday

On Saturday, March 5, authorities in Crimea have claimed that people in Kherson – a Ukrainian city under Russian control – requested political unification. The reports raised concern Moscow is creating a pretext for further annexation of Ukrainian territory. While Russia has seized several cities in southern Ukraine, Kherson is particularly critical. The former Soviet ship-building centre is the first major urban area north of Crimea, and it occupies an important geostrategic position, with bridges vital to moving troops from Crimea toward Odesa.


Friday

On Friday, March 4, Russian forces continue to surround or partly surround major centres such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv. Meanwhile, Ukrainian operators remained at the helm of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant but Russian military forces have seized control. A fire near the facility was extinguished early Friday. Meanwhile, Mr. Zelensky appealed for Russian citizens to protest against the invasion.


Thursday

On Thursday, March 3, the United Nations reported that more than one million Ukrainians had fled the country by the eighth day of the war. With Russian forces accused of war crimes for their attacks on civilian infrastructure, “there’s been an acceleration in the last couple of days,” said Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesman for the UNHCR. The agency is planning for four million Ukrainian refugees.


Wednesday

On Wednesday, March 2, Russian forces occupied the centre of Kherson, a strategically important city of 300,000 in southern Ukraine, in a key advance that positions them to move along the economically critical Black Sea coast. Meanwhile, Russia has suffered a major diplomatic defeat at the United Nations, losing a vote at the General Assembly by an overwhelming margin of 141 to five after an emergency debate mobilized a surge of support for a resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Tuesday

On Tuesday, March 1, Russian troops took the strategically important city Kherson, in southern Ukraine, and continued to fire rockets, missiles and artillery into densely populated areas throughout the country. Meanwhile, Ukraine remained in control of its two largest cities, Kharkiv and the capital, Kyiv.

About 2,000 civilians have now died in the war, Ukrainian authorities said. A United Nations agency said at least 136 civilians have been killed, including 13 children, 400 have been injured and more than 660,000 people have fled Ukraine. Canada is providing the UN $100-million in new humanitarian assistance.


Monday

On Monday, Feb. 28, Russia launched an attack on Kharkiv, home to 1.4 million people and the country’s second-largest city. The city was “massively fired upon” by rockets, Ukraine said, killing at least 11 people, including children, and destroying dozens of houses. Ukrainian forces still also hold Kyiv, but Russian media report its forces have seized two southeastern centres: Berdyansk and Enerhodar.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian delegation met with Russian delegates in Belarus to seek an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops. The talks, which included Ukraine’s Defence Minister but not its President, were “difficult,” a Ukrainian advisor said. Further negotiations are planned for the coming days.

More than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since the invasion, a UN agency said, with expectations that the war will displace seven million people.


Sunday

On Sunday, Feb. 27, Mr. Putin put his country’s nuclear forces to their highest level alert in response, he said, to widespread sanctions imposed by Western countries including most of Europe.

Hopes for a ceasefire rose amid, as Ukraine announced that Russian and Ukrainian officials had agreed to meet at the border between Belarus and Ukraine. It’s remains unclear when those talks would take part.

This map shows reported explosions, contested regions of Ukraine, and areas held by pro-Russian separatists or Russian troop incursions.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Kyiv said the city remains in the control of Ukraine. At least 31 people, including nine children, had died since the assault on the capital began, Mr. Klitschko said. Russian forces appeared to have pushed into at least parts of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.


Saturday

On Saturday, Feb. 26, Kyiv was hit with air strikes – including huge, predawn explosions. Russia said it paused, then resumed its offensive – though the brief stop was hardly noticed amid the sounds of shelling and warplanes that could be heard throughout the day in and around the capital city. Saturday marked the third consecutive day of air strikes in Kyiv, as Russian units continued to push toward the city centre.

The the mayor of Kyiv, Vitaly Klitschko, declared a nightly curfew, citing what he called active saboteur groups in the city.

Ukrainian media reported that the Okhmadyt hospital, which specializes in treating pediatric cancer patients, was caught up in the fighting after nightfall.

Meanwhile, Mr. Zelensky said the fighting will continue. “We have withstood and are successfully repelling enemy attacks.” he said in a video message posted on his social media.

At least 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed and 1,115 people have been wounded so far.


Friday

By Friday, Feb. 25, Russia had invaded Ukraine on all sides. A night of fierce bombing in and around Kyiv was followed by air strikes and missile attacks in the city on Friday. Russian troops and armoured vehicles entered parts of Ukraine’s capital. Ukraine said it destroyed three bridges on the northern approach to the capital to slow the Russian advance, and the country’s Interior Ministry said it had distributed some 18,000 assault rifles to residents.

This map shows contested regions of Ukraine, areas held by pro-Russian separatists or Russian troop incursions.

Also Friday, Mr. Putin called on the Ukrainian army to overthrow the elected government of Mr. Zelensky. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian President has called for direct talks with Mr. Putin. “Let’s sit down at the negotiating table to stop the deaths of people,” he said in a video address.

Russian air strikes and missile attacks continued to hit Kyiv throughout Friday. Amnesty International said that Russia’s war against Ukraine “has been marked by indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas and strikes on protected objects such as hospitals.”


Thursday

On Thursday, Feb. 24, Russia launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine. Air strikes targeted cities across the country and troops were advancing toward Kyiv. Russia’s assault hit the main commercial airport, Boryspil International, and Russian paratroopers appeared to be in control of Hostomel, a military cargo airport.

This map shows reported explosions and Russian military incursions into Ukraine.

Explosions reported

Russian military incursions reported

Kyiv: Cruise and ballistic missiles reportedly hit Boryspil International Airport and military headquarters

RUSSIA

Claimed by separatists, held by Ukraine

BELARUS

Chernihiv

Kharkiv

Lviv

UKRAINE

Kramatorsk

Dnipro

Ivano-Frankivsk

Luhansk

Donetsk

Kherson

Mariupol

Odessa

ROMANIA

Held by

pro-Russian

separatists

Crimea

0

200

KM

Black Sea

*As of 7:30 a.m. ET

the globe and mail, Sources: graphic news

via Reuters, AP, AFP, BBC

Explosions reported

Russian military incursions reported

Kyiv: Cruise and ballistic missiles reportedly hit Boryspil International Airport and military headquarters

RUSSIA

BELARUS

Claimed by separatists, held by Ukraine

Chernihiv

Kharkiv

Lviv

UKRAINE

Kramatorsk

Dnipro

Ivano-Frankivsk

Luhansk

Donetsk

Kherson

MOLDOVA

Mariupol

Odessa

ROMANIA

Crimea

Held by

pro-Russian

separatists

0

200

KM

Black Sea

*As of 7:30 a.m. ET

the globe and mail, Sources: graphic news

via Reuters, AP, AFP, BBC

Russian military incursions reported

Explosions reported

Kyiv: Cruise and ballistic missiles reportedly hit Boryspil International Airport and military headquarters

BELARUS

RUSSIA

Chernihiv

Claimed by separatists, held by Ukraine

POLAND

Kharkiv

Lviv

UKRAINE

Kramatorsk

Dnipro

Ivano-Frankivsk

Luhansk

Donetsk

Kherson

MOLDOVA

Mariupol

Odessa

Held by

pro-Russian

separatists

ROMANIA

Crimea

0

200

Black Sea

KM

BULGARIA

*As of 7:30 a.m. ET

the globe and mail, Sources: graphic news via Reuters, AP, AFP, BBC

During emergency talks, NATO agreed to increase its presence of land, sea and air forces on its eastern flank near Ukraine and Russia, putting hundreds of warplanes and ships on alert after Mr. Putin’s military offensive.

Mr. Zelensky would later report that 137 Ukrainians had been killed, and 316 injured Thursday during the first day of fighting. There was no credible count of Russian casualties.


Wednesday

On Wednesday Feb. 23, after weeks of questioning Western intelligence reports that suggested Mr. Putin would launch a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, the country changed course, declaring a state of emergency. Ukraine warned its citizens to leave Russia amid the rising tensions. Reservists began reporting to their units as Mr. Zelensky braced his country for a Russian assault.

In photos: Ukraine, as state of emergency is declared

In the U.S., Mr. Biden announced a “first tranche” of sanctions against Russia, following the news that Mr. Putin would recognize two regions in eastern Ukraine. Officials in the U.S. estimated that Russia has between 170,000 and 190,000 troops – backed by large numbers of tanks, artillery, rocket launchers and warplanes – on three sides of Ukraine.


Tuesday

On Tuesday, Feb. 22, Russia’s parliament gave rubber-stamp approval to Mr. Putin’s decision to send troops to the Donbas regions of Ukraine the previous day. After the vote, Mr. Zelensky announced he was calling up the country’s military reserves, but didn’t order general mobilization. Instead, he hoped to resolve the crisis through talks with Mr. Putin or a multilateral format.

Also Tuesday, NATO’s Secretary-General and U.S. President Joe Biden said they believed Russia was planning a full-scale attack and that Kyiv, the capital city and home to 3 million people, would be the main target.

This map shows Russia’s position and the presence of NATO forces.

Tallinn

NATO

RUSSIA POSITIONS

(as of Feb. 18)

Baltic

Sea

Amari

Tapa

Multinational

battle groups

ESTONIA

Ground forces

Air bases

Air policing

mission

Naval bases

Adazi

NATO members

LATVIA

Riga

Non-NATO

Lielvarde

Moscow

Siauliai

LITHUANIA

Rukla

BELARUS

RUS.

Vilnius

Yelnya

Minsk

Malbork

RUSSIA

Orzysz

Asipovicny

Klintsy

POLAND

Pochep

Baranovichi

Marshala

Zhukova

Rechytsa

Brest

Warsaw

Voronezh

Lask

Pripyat River

Soloti

Kyiv

UKRAINE

Boguchar

Claimed by

separatists,

held by Ukraine

Transnistria:

Russian-backed

breakaway region

of Moldova

Luhansk

Volgograd

SLOVAKIA

Held by

pro-Russian

separatists

Donetsk

:

HUNGARY

Dnieper

River

ROMANIA

Persianovskiy

Rostov

Craiova:

NATO multinational

brigade 4,000 troops

Korenovsk

Bucharest

Sevastopol:

Russian Black

Sea Fleet HQ

Crimea:

Annexed by

Russia in 2014

BULG.

Deveselu:

NATO missile

defence system

Black Sea

GEORGIA

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GRAPHIC NEWS

Tallinn

NATO

RUSSIA POSITIONS

(as of Feb. 18)

Baltic

Sea

Amari

Tapa

Multinational

battle groups

ESTONIA

Ground forces

Air policing

mission

Air bases

Naval bases

Adazi

NATO members

LATVIA

Riga

Non-NATO

Lielvarde

Moscow

Siauliai

LITHUANIA

Rukla

BELARUS

RUS.

Vilnius

Yelnya

Minsk

Malbork

RUSSIA

Orzysz

Asipovicny

Klintsy

POLAND

Pochep

Baranovichi

Marshala

Zhukova

Rechytsa

Brest

Warsaw

Voronezh

Lask

Pripyat River

Soloti

Kyiv

UKRAINE

Boguchar

Claimed by

separatists,

held by Ukraine

Transnistria:

Russian-backed

breakaway region

of Moldova

Luhansk

Volgograd

SLOVAKIA

Held by

pro-Russian

separatists

Donetsk

:

HUNGARY

Dnieper

River

ROMANIA

Persianovskiy

Rostov

Craiova:

NATO multinational

brigade 4,000 troops

Korenovsk

Bucharest

Sevastopol:

Russian Black

Sea Fleet HQ

Crimea:

Annexed by

Russia in 2014

BULG.

Deveselu:

NATO missile

defence system

Black Sea

GEORGIA

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GRAPHIC NEWS

Tallinn

NATO

RUSSIA POSITIONS

(as of Feb. 18)

Tapa

Baltic

Sea

Amari

Multinational

battle groups

ESTONIA

Ground forces

Air bases

Air policing

mission

Naval bases

Adazi

NATO members

LATVIA

Riga

Non-NATO

Lielvarde

Moscow

Siauliai

LITHUANIA

Rukla

RUS.

Vilnius

Yelnya

BELARUS

Malbork

Minsk

RUSSIA

Orzysz

Asipovicny

Klintsy

POLAND

Pochep

Baranovichi

Marshala

Zhukova

Rechytsa

Brest

Warsaw

Voronezh

Lask

Pripyat River

Soloti

Kyiv

UKRAINE

Boguchar

Claimed by

separatists,

held by Ukraine

Transnistria:

Russian-backed

breakaway region

of Moldova

Luhansk

Volgograd

SLOVAKIA

Held by

pro-Russian

separatists

Donetsk

:

HUNGARY

Dnieper

River

ROMANIA

Persianovskiy

Rostov

Craiova:

NATO multinational

brigade 4,000 troops

Korenovsk

Bucharest

Sevastopol:

Russian Black

Sea Fleet HQ

Crimea:

Annexed by

Russia in 2014

BULG.

Deveselu:

NATO missile

defence system

Black Sea

GEORGIA

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GRAPHIC NEWS


Monday

On Monday, Feb. 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of two breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk at the end of a 40-minute televised address. During the address, Mr. Putin repeatedly cited Ukraine’s independence as a historical accident.

The two regions have been under the control of a Moscow-backed militia since 2014. Fighting in the Donbas region has killed more than 14,000 people over the past eight years, and Mr. Putin’s decision to send regular Russian forces into the region was expected to inflame the conflict.

Hours after Mr. Putin spoke, videos posted to social media showed Russian troops crossing the Ukrainian border into the separatist-controlled areas. At the time, there were between 170,000 and 190,000 Russian troops amassed around Ukraine’s borders.

Mr. Zelensky held emergency talks with his National Security and Defence Council that evening, and requested an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council.

This map shows the build-up as of Monday, Feb. 21, with the Donetsk and Luhansk regions held by Russian forces.

RUSSIA

Kyiv

UKRAINE

Donbas

Crimea

Russian

control

Russian positions

Soloti

Ground forces

Belgorod

Air bases

Valuyki

RUSSIA

Claimed by

separatists,

held by

Ukraine

Svitlodarsk:

Shelling

intensifying

in area of key

infrastructure

Boguchar

Held by

pro-Russian

separatists

LUHANSK

Strarobilk

Separatist forces:

35,000 personnel,

481 tanks, 914

armoured vehicles*

Lysychansk

Millerovo

Kramatorsk

Luhansk

Alchevsk

UKRAINE

Horlivka

Zaporozhye

Donetsk

Shakhty

DONETSK

Rostov-

on-Don

Line of

contact

Persianovskiy

Melitopol

Mariupol

Feb. 21: Putin orders

troops into Donbas

after recognising

breakaway republics

Berdyansk

40km

Yeysk

Sea of Azov

*Claims by Ukraine

graphic news, Sources: CSIS, Rochan Consulting, Reuters

RUSSIA

Kyiv

UKRAINE

Donbas

Crimea

Russian

control

Russian positions

Soloti

Ground forces

Belgorod

Air bases

Valuyki

RUSSIA

Claimed by

separatists,

held by Ukraine

Svitlodarsk:

Shelling

intensifying

in area of key

infrastructure

Boguchar

Held by

pro-Russian

separatists

LUHANSK

Strarobilk

Separatist forces:

35,000 personnel,

481 tanks, 914

armoured vehicles*

Lysychansk

Millerovo

Kramatorsk

Luhansk

River

Dnieper

Alchevsk

UKRAINE

Horlivka

Zaporozhye

Donetsk

Shakhty

DONETSK

Rostov-

on-Don

Line of

contact

Persianovskiy

Melitopol

Mariupol

Feb. 21: Putin orders

troops into Donbas

after recognising

breakaway republics

Berdyansk

40km

Yeysk

Sea of Azov

*Claims by Ukraine

graphic news, Sources: CSIS, Rochan Consulting, Reuters

RUSSIA

Kyiv

UKRAINE

Donbas

Crimea

Russian

control

Russian positions

Soloti

Ground forces

Belgorod

Air bases

Valuyki

Claimed by

separatists,

held by Ukraine

RUSSIA

Boguchar

Svitlodarsk:

Shelling

intensifying

in area of key

infrastructure

Held by

pro-Russian

separatists

LUHANSK

Separatist forces:

35,000 personnel,

481 tanks, 914

armoured vehicles*

Strarobilk

Lysychansk

Millerovo

Kramatorsk

Luhansk

River

Dnieper

Alchevsk

UKRAINE

Horlivka

Zaporozhye

Donetsk

Shakhty

DONETSK

Rostov-

on-Don

Line of

contact

Persianovskiy

Melitopol

Mariupol

Feb. 21: Putin orders

troops into Donbas

after recognising

breakaway republics

Berdyansk

40km

Yeysk

Sea of Azov

*Claims by Ukraine

graphic news, Sources: CSIS, Rochan Consulting, Reuters


Russian build-up around Ukraine

By the end of January, 2022, Russia had about 130,000 troops stationed around Ukraine’s borders.

Russia military build-up around Ukraine

Around 130,000 Russian troops –equipped with everything

from tanks and artillery to ammunition and air power – are

now surrounding Ukraine on all sides, but Moscow denies

it is planning an invasion

Russian

troops

Four NATO

multinational

battlegroups:

5,000 troops

ESTONIA

25,000

Baltic

Sea

5,000

Adazi

1,000

LATVIA

Moscow

Tanks

LITH.

RUSSIA

Armoured

vehicles

Rukla

BELARUS

Yelnya

Artillery

Other

military

or air

Orzysz

POLAND

4,000 U.S.

troops

stationed

Brest

Pogonovo

Donbas:

Territory

controlled by

pro-Russian

separatists

Kyiv

Volgograd

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Donetsk

Rostov

Craiova: NATO’s

multinational

brigade 5,000

troops

Korenovsk

Sevastopol:

Russian

Black Sea

Fleet HQ

200km

Crimea:

Annexed by

Russia in 2014

graphic news, Sources: Janes; NATO, Reuters;

The New York Times; Rochan Consulting

Russia military build-up around Ukraine

Around 130,000 Russian troops –equipped with everything

from tanks and artillery to ammunition and air power – are

now surrounding Ukraine on all sides, but Moscow denies

it is planning an invasion

Russian

troops

Four NATO

multinational

battlegroups:

5,000 troops

ESTONIA

25,000

Baltic

Sea

5,000

Adazi

1,000

LATVIA

Moscow

Tanks

LITH.

RUSSIA

Armoured

vehicles

Rukla

BELARUS

Artillery

Other

military

or air

Orzysz

POLAND

4,000 U.S.

troops

stationed

Brest

Pogonovo

Donbas:

Territory

controlled by

pro-Russian

separatists

Kyiv

UKRAINE

Volgograd

ROMANIA

Donetsk

Rostov

Craiova: NATO’s

multinational

brigade 5,000

troops

Korenovsk

Sevastopol:

Russian

Black Sea

Fleet HQ

200km

Crimea:

Annexed by

Russia in 2014

graphic news, Sources: Janes; NATO, Reuters;

The New York Times; Rochan Consulting

Russia military build-up around Ukraine

Around 130,000 Russian troops – equipped with everything from tanks and artillery to ammunition and

air power – are now surrounding Ukraine on all sides, but Moscow denies it is planning an invasion

Russian troops

Tapa

Tallinn

25,000

Four NATO multinational

battlegroups: 5,000 troops

ESTONIA

5,000

1,000

Adazi

Tanks

Riga

Baltic

Sea

LATVIA

Armoured

vehicles

RUSSIA

Moscow

LITHUANIA

Artillery

Rukla

Other military

or air instal-

lations

BELARUS

Vilnius

RUS.

Yelnya

Minsk

Klintsy

Orzysz

Asipovicny

Baranovichi

Pochep

Rechytsa

Warsaw

Marshala Zhukova

Brest

POLAND

4,000 U.S.

troops

stationed

Pogonovo

Soloti

Dnieper

River

Kyiv

Boguchar

Transnistria:

Russian-backed

breakaway region

of Moldova

Donbas:

Territory

controlled by

pro-Russian

separatists

Luhansk

Volgograd

UKRAINE

Donetsk

Persianovskiy

Tiraspol

ROMANIA

Rostov

Craiova: NATO’s

multinational brigade

5,000 troops

Korenovsk

Bucharest

Sevastopol:

Russian

Black Sea

Fleet HQ

200km

Crimea:

Annexed by

Russia in 2014

BULGARIA

Black Sea

GEORGIA

graphic news, Sources: Janes, NATO, Reuters, The New York Times, Rochan Consulting


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