Six years ago, Vladimir Putin directed tens of thousand of Russian troops to invade Ukraine in a “special military operations”. This was a massive invasion that had not been seen since World War Two.
Russia’s constant bombardment has decimated cities and killed tens of thousands more.
These are some landmarks from the conflict.
Russia denied that it would invade Ukraine, and when it did, it stated it wanted to “disarm” Kyiv and rid it of “nationalists”. It also said that it was attempting to halt NATO’s expansion, not seize territory. However, Ukrainians claim that a Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address three days prior to the February 24 invasion made it clear that he wanted to conquer their country and erase their 1,000-year-old national identity.
“Ukraine is more than a neighboring country. Putin stated that Ukraine is an integral part of our history, culture, and spiritual space. “Since the beginning of time, people who live in the southwest corner of Russia’s historical land have been called Russians or Orthodox Christians.
A EARLY DEFEAT
Within hours of the invasion Russia sent commandos to Antonov Airfield, a cargo facility just north of Kyiv. They secured an air bridge that would allow for a lightning attack on the capital.
Within one day, the Ukrainians had destroyed the landing strip and eliminated the elite Russian paratroops. Although Russia’s armoured columns eventually reached the northern outskirts Kyiv, Moscow’s plans to quickly seize the capital were thwarted by the inability to secure an operational airfield on the first day.
Russian bombs fell upon Kyiv, and residents huddled in subway stations for shelter, or packed train stations to flee. President Volodymyr Zilenskiy made it clear that he would not go anywhere.
In a selfie taken with a mobile phone in the dawn of the third day of war, the ex-sitcom actor stated, “Good morning Ukrainians”, with a hint of a smile. He was standing behind a landmark building in central Kyiv. “Ya tut.” I’m here.
Zelenskiy continued to rally his country through nightly addresses. His combat fatigues, sparse stubble, and casual, but firm, speaking style became symbols of Ukraine’s resistance.
He has used video links since then to invoke Martin Luther King to Congress in the United States and the Berlin Wall at the Bundestag. He was beam into Prague’s streets, at the Grammy awards, and Glastonbury music festival where he encouraged his cheering fans to “prove freedom always wins”.
TRANSPORTING A STRANGER’S CHILDREN
Millions fled as Russia attacked Ukrainian cities. This was according to the United Nations, the largest refugee crisis in recent generations. Over 6.6 million refugees were recorded in Europe. Most of them came from neighbouring countries that opened their arms. Kyiv prohibited men under the age of 18 from leaving.
Natalya Ableyeva (58), said that her father handed the children to her and gave me their passports so I could bring them over.
The children were later reunited with their mother on the Hungarian side. She wept as she held them close.
GLOOMESSES OF HELL
Over three months, Russian forces destroyed Mariupol, once prosperous southern port. According to Ukraine, tens of thousands died in the three-month war. Food, water, and medical supplies were cut, and many people were trapped underground by constant bombing. The United Nations estimates that the death toll is unknown.
Three people were killed and a child were killed when Russia bombed Mariupol’s maternity hospital on March 9. It was a war crime according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Moscow claimed that the building had been abandoned and was occupied by fighters.
One week later, the theatre in which families from Ukraine were hiding in the basement was demolished. Satellite photos outside showed the word “children” painted on the ground. Kyiv claims Russia bombed the city deliberately to break its will, and that hundreds are believed to be buried there. Russia denied this claim, but did not provide any evidence.
BODIES IN STREETS
Russia’s attack on Kyiv was over by March 31st. The armoured columns of the Russian army, which were vulnerable to mobile units of Ukrainian defense forces with anti-tank missiles or drones, had been unable to move and suffered heavy losses. Moscow declared its withdrawal from the northern Ukraine as a gesture of goodwill. However, as their troops left the country, evidence of their occupation was left behind in ruined cities and villages where bodies were found on the streets.
Numerous victims were found in Bucha’s once prosperous suburb, many of them tied to their hands. Russia denied responsibility and claimed that the murders were staged, despite having no evidence.
RUSSIAN WARSHIP: GO FUCK YOUSELF!
Within the first hour of the invasion, Russian officers aboard the Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva radioed Ukrainian security guards at Snake Island, a barren, strategic Black Sea outcrop, and ordered them to surrender or be killed. One radioed back, “Russian warship. Go fuck yourself.”
This phrase was made a national slogan on Ukrainian billboards and T-shirts. Finally, a stamp depicting a guard from Ukraine standing on the outcrop giving the flagship the finger was issued.
Two Ukrainian missiles hit the Moskva on April 14, the day that the stamp was issued. This is the largest warship ever to have been sunk in combat over the past 40 years. Russia officially claims that one of the sailors was killed in an accident. Experts from the West believe that around half of the 450 crew members died at sea.
After suffering heavy losses in defending Snake Island, Russia declared its abandonment on June 30. It described its withdrawal as another “goodwill gesture”.
The siege on Mariupol continued, much to the detriment of the rest of the world. Reporters from Russia found a dark, silent city on the Russian-held side. There, bewildered civilians emerged out of the cellars to bury their dead in the grass at the roadside.
The last Ukrainian troops were held captive in Azovstal. This is Europe’s largest steel plant. Underground tunnels functioned as bunkers. The general staff of Ukraine ordered them to surrender on 16 May to save their lives. Journalists witnessed them carrying their wounded on stretchers to buses, which took them to a pro-Russian separatist prison camp.
Moscow promised to treat Azovstal prisoners in accordance with the Geneva conventions, but rejected Ukrainian requests for a prisoner exchange.
Numerous Azovstal defenders were murdered in pro-Russian separatist custody on July 29. A fiery blast engulfed a prison. It was a war crime committed on Moscow’s orders, Kyiv said. Moscow claimed that the prison was struck by a Ukrainian missile but did not explain why no pro-Russian guards were injured. The Russian Embassy in London stated that the Azov prisoners who survived should be hanged.
THE BATTLE FOR THE DONBAS
Russia abandoned its attempt to seize Kyiv and instead shifted its war goals to secure the Donbas. This eastern region is made up of two former provinces held by its separatist proxies. This led to the most destructive ground battles in the war.
An entire battalion Russian troops was killed trying to cross the Siverskiy Donets River in May. Satellite photos showed numerous destroyed armoured vehicles scattered along either bank.
The Russians continued to push on using their artillery firepower advantage against the Ukrainian forces on three sides. Both sides claimed that they had killed thousands of enemy troops throughout June. Putin claimed victory over the area after capturing the ruins at Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk. But battles continue.
Now, the war is mainly focused on the south. Kyiv has pledged to retake the largest swathe of territory that Russia seized during the invasion. Russia has sent more troops.
Ukraine has been using advanced rockets from the West since early July – the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) It is now capable of targeting bridges, railways and ammunition dumps deep within Russian-held territory. This could help shift the war’s course.
Ukraine’s internet supporters post daily photos of explosions on Russian-held territory, with the catchphrase “HIMARS O’Clock”. Russia claims its operation will go according to plan.
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