Timeline: After months of tensions, Russia attacks Ukraine

Russia launches a multipronged attack after months of diplomacy failing to resolve the crisis.

Smoke rises over the area near the town of Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region.
Tensions over the Ukraine-Russia crisis have been simmering for more than two months, with diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue showing no sign of progress [File: Gleb Garanich/Reuters]

Russian forces have launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine as President Vladimir Putin demanded Kyiv’s army lay down its weapons.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday Russia is attacking his country’s “military infrastructure” and border guards. In a brief televised address to the nation, he called for martial law and pledged victory.

Tensions over the Ukraine-Russia crisis have been simmering for months, with diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue showing no sign of progress.

Here is a timeline of some of the key recent events.

November 2021

Satellite imagery shows a new build-up of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, and Kyiv says Moscow has mobilised 100,000 soldiers along with tanks and other military hardware.

December 7, 2021

US President Joe Biden warns Russia of sweeping Western economic sanctions if it invades Ukraine.

December 17, 2021

Russia presents detailed security demands to the West, including that NATO ceases all military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine and that the alliance never accept Ukraine or other former Soviet nations as members.

January 3, 2022

Biden reassures Zelenskyy that the US will “respond decisively” if Russia invades Ukraine.

The two men speak on the phone to discuss preparations for a series of upcoming diplomatic meetings to address the crisis.

INTERACTIVE- former USSR republics map

January 10, 2022

US and Russian officials meet in Geneva for diplomatic talks but differences remain unresolved as Moscow repeats security demands that Washington says it cannot accept.

January 24, 2022

NATO puts forces on standby and reinforces its military presence in Eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets. Some Western nations start evacuating non-essential embassy staff from Kyiv. The US puts 8,500 soldiers on alert.

January 26, 2022

Washington presents a written response to Russia’s security demands, repeating a commitment to NATO’s “open-door” policy while offering a “principled and pragmatic evaluation” of Moscow’s concerns.

January 27, 2022

Biden warns of a likely Russian invasion in February. China throws its political weight behind Russia and tells the US that Moscow’s “legitimate security concerns” should be “taken seriously”.

January 28, 2022

Putin says Russia’s main security demands have not been addressed but that Moscow is ready to continue with talks.

Zelenkskyy warns the West to avoid creating “panic” that will negatively affect his country’s economy.

January 31, 2022

The US and Russia spar over the Ukraine crisis at a special closed session of the UN Security Council.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield tells the council a Russian invasion of Ukraine would threaten global security.

Russia’s UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya accuses Washington and its allies of drumming up the threat of war despite Moscow’s repeated denials of a planned invasion.

“The discussions about a threat of war is provocative in and of itself. You are almost calling for this. You want it to happen,” Nebenzya says.

Infographic showing a map of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline 2022

February 1, 2022

Putin denies planning an invasion and accuses the US of ignoring his country’s security demands.

“It is already clear that fundamental Russian concerns ended up being ignored,” he says.

February 6, 2022

Russia has established 70 percent of the military build-up it needs to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, according to the US officials cited anonymously in US media.

February 8, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron meets Putin for marathon talks in Moscow and tells reporters Russia will not escalate the Ukraine crisis.

However, the Kremlin denies that Macron and Putin struck a deal on de-escalating the crisis. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that “in the current situation, Moscow and Paris can’t be reaching any deals”.

February 10, 2022

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hold fruitless talks.

In an icy news conference, Lavrov describes the meeting as “a conversation between a mute and a deaf person”.

He adds that the “facts” presented by his team on the crisis “bounced off” their British counterparts.

Truss, who warns of tough Western sanctions if Ukraine was attacked, challenges Lavrov about his assertion that Russia’s build-up of troops and weaponry was not threatening anyone.

February 11, 2022

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, says US intelligence shows a Russian invasion could begin within days, before the Beijing Olympics end on February 20.

The Pentagon orders an additional 3,000 US soldiers to be sent to Poland to reassure allies. Meanwhile, a number of countries called upon their citizens to leave Ukraine, with some warning that a military evacuation will not be guaranteed in the event of war.

February 12, 2022

Biden and Putin hold talks via video conference. The US president says a Russian invasion of Ukraine would cause “widespread human suffering” and that the West was committed to diplomacy to end the crisis but “equally prepared for other scenarios”.

Putin complains in the call that the US and NATO have not responded satisfactorily to Russian demands that Ukraine be prohibited from joining the military alliance and that NATO pull back forces from Eastern Europe.

Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s top foreign policy aide, says that while tensions have been escalating for months, in recent days “the situation has simply been brought to the point of absurdity”.

He says Biden mentioned the possible sanctions that could be imposed on Russia, but “this issue was not the focus during a fairly long conversation with the Russian leader”.

INTERACTIVE- Ukraine Donbas region

February 14, 2022

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby warns that Putin was boosting military capability near Ukraine’s border with each passing day.

“This is a military that, that continues to grow stronger, continues to grow more ready. They’re exercising, so we believe that he has a lot of capabilities and options available to him should he want to use military force,” Kirby tells MSNBC in an interview.

“As we said, it could happen any day,” he says.

February 15, 2022

Putin says he was “ready to work further” with the West on security issues to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine, but emphasises the need for the West to heed Russia’s main demands.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Moscow says at a briefing that he agrees with Russia’s assessment that there is still a chance to avert war over Ukraine and that “diplomatic options are far from exhausted”.

February 16, 2022

NATO says there is no sign of Russian de-escalation as it tasks its commanders to work out details for the deployment of battlegroups to the alliance’s southeastern flank.

“Ministers decided to develop options to further strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence, including to consider establishing new NATO battlegroups in Central and Eastern and Southeastern Europe,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the United States has yet to see any evidence of a significant Russian withdrawal of its military forces from near Ukraine’s frontiers, despite claims from Moscow that a pullback was under way.

February 17, 2022

Biden and Blinken warn that Russia could be on the brink of invading Ukraine amid an apparent failure to withdraw troops from its side of the border and accusations of a possible false-flag operation in Ukraine’s east.

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also voiced concern that Russia may be attempting to “stage a pretext” for an attack on Ukraine following reports of shelling in the country’s conflict-hit east.

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(Al Jazeera)

February 18, 2022

Biden says he was “convinced” Putin has made a decision to invade Ukraine, warning Moscow against starting what he called a “war of choice” that would be catastrophic.

But the US president says the door for diplomacy remains open. Until war breaks out, “diplomacy is always a possibility”, Biden tells reporters.

February 19, 2022

The Russian-backed leaders of Ukraine’s two breakaway regions announce a general mobilisation, spurring fears of a further escalation.

The announcements come as pro-Russian rebels and Ukraine accuse each other of fresh attacks, and Kyiv says a Ukrainian soldier has been killed in separatist shelling.

February 21, 2022

Putin recognises two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, as independent entities and then orders Russian troops to “maintain peace” there.

Putin’s announcement paves the way for Russia to openly send troops and weapons to the long-running conflict pitting Ukrainian forces against Moscow-backed rebels.

February 22, 2022

Biden announces what he calls the “first tranche” of sanctions against Russia, including steps to starve the country of financing.

“We’re implementing sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt. That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” Biden says, adding that the measures also would target financial institutions, and Russian “elites”.

The US earlier said Russia’s deployment of troops into two Moscow-backed, self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine amounts to the “beginning of an invasion”.

INTERACTIVE- Russia and Ukraine at a quick glance

February 23, 2022

Ukraine’s parliament votes to approve a national state of emergency in response to the threat of a Russian invasion.

The measure is overwhelmingly approved on the same day that Moscow begins to evacuate its Kyiv embassy and Washington steps up its warnings about the chances of an all-out Russian attack.

Meanwhile, Biden allows sanctions to move forward against the company that built the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and against the company’s CEO.

February 24, 2022

Russian forces unleash an attack on Ukraine, as Putin demands the neighbouring country’s army lay down its weapons.

In an address broadcast on state television,

“We urge you to lay down arms immediately and go home. I will explain: all servicemen of the Ukrainian army who comply with this requirement, can freely leave the area of military actions and return to their families,” he says in an address broadcast on state television.

Putin also urges other nations to not intervene.

“Whoever would try to stop us and further create threats to our country, to our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and lead you to such consequences that you have never faced in your history. We are ready for any outcome.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies