Timeline: Week one of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Mass displacement, mounting casualties and international sanctions mark first week of Russian assault on Ukraine.

Military vehicles burning after a Russian attack in the outskirts of Mariupol.
A Ukrainian military facility in the aftermath of Russian shelling outside Mariupol, February 24 [File: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP Photo]

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is about to enter its second week with no signs of an imminent ceasefire, despite a flood of Western sanctions targeting the Russian economy.

In the days since Russian troops began their offensive last Thursday, the violence has intensified in several major Ukrainian cities, prompting hundreds of thousands of people to flee the country in search of safety.

Ukrainian officials say deaths and injuries are mounting as Russian forces launch renewed attacks and an enormous military convoy edges closer to the capital, Kyiv.

Here, Al Jazeera looks at the days leading up to Russia’s invasion, the international response, and key events that have marked the war so far:

February 21: Russian President Vladimir Putin recognises Luhansk and Donetsk, two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, as independent states and orders Russian troops to act as “peacekeepers” there.

The US forbids investments in the regions, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges people to remain calm, saying, “We are not afraid of anyone or anything.”

February 22: The Russian parliament authorises Putin to use military force outside the country. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancels a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

The US places full blocking sanctions on the Kremlin-controlled VEB bank and PSB bank, with the US Treasury saying the move constrains “Russia’s ability to finance defense-related contracts and raise new funds to finance its campaign against Ukraine”.

Russia is barred from selling sovereign bonds on US money markets, and oligarchs close to Putin have their US-held assets seized. The US also moves military assets from Germany to the Baltic States. “We still believe that Russia is poised to go much further in launching a massive military attack against Ukraine,” US President Joe Biden says.

Germany immediately halts the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2, a Russian-owned pipeline that is meant to pump Russian gas to the country.

February 23: Ukraine declares a nationwide state of emergency.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells the General Assembly the world is “facing a moment of peril” over the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

The European Union freezes the assets of 351 Duma (Russia’s lower house of parliament) members, barring them from loans and travel, and calls an emergency summit over the situation. Biden allows sanctions to move ahead against the company that built Nord Stream 2.

February 24: Russia launches a full-scale assault on Ukraine.

Zelenskyy orders a general mobilisation, calling on all Ukrainians who are ready to defend their country to come forward. Biden calls Russia’s invasion a “premeditated attack”.

The US bars five more Russian banks from the US financial system, and freezes four of the five banks’ US-held assets. The fifth institution, Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, is also barred from the US financial system, but its assets are not frozen.

Trade in the debt and equity of 13 banks and state-owned enterprises is also banned in the US. The US may not export sensitive technologies to Russia in avionics, semiconductors, telecommunications and other areas. Moscow’s stock exchange plummets by an unprecedented 45 percent.

The European Council holds an emergency session to condemn Russia’s “unprovoked and unjustified military aggression”.

February 25: Russian forces press towards the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, as the United Nations says more than 50,000 people have fled the country since the start of Moscow’s invasion.

The European Union agrees to place Putin and Lavrov on its list of sanctioned individuals. Russia vetoes a UN Security Council resolution demanding it unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

February 26: The mayor of Kyiv imposes a curfew in the Ukrainian capital as Russian troops advance towards the city. Poland says about 100,000 people have crossed into the country from Ukraine amid the fighting.

Zelenskyy refuses a US offer to evacuate, saying, “the fight is here.” He also refutes Russian reports that he fled the capital, posting a video of himself with senior cabinet members on the streets of Kyiv, saying they were joining the fight for their country.

The EU says it will take measures to prevent Russia’s central bank from using its estimated $630bn in reserves to finance the war and undermine the impact of sanctions.

February 27: European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announces that Russian aircraft will be banned from EU airspace, and Russian state-owned media Russia Today, Sputnik and their subsidiaries are banned from EU airwaves and the internet.

The EU also says it will bar selected Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank transaction system, essentially cutting them off from the global financial system.

Norway’s $1.3-trillion sovereign wealth fund says it will pull out of all 47 of its Russian investments, valued at $2.8bn. Its biggest stake is in Sberbank, which was earlier sanctioned by the US and EU.

Major oil company BP says it will extricate itself from a nearly 20 percent stake in Rosneft, Russia’s state oil giant, due to the country’s military action in Ukraine. The stake is valued at $14bn and accounts for about half of BP’s oil and gas reserves.

Russian troops press towards three Ukrainian cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson. They appear to face stiff resistance that US officials say is slowing their advance. The Ukrainian defence ministry says it estimates Russian losses at 4,500 men killed, 150 tanks and 700 armoured personnel carriers destroyed, and seven fighter jets and 26 helicopters downed.

February 28: In a largely symbolic move, Ukraine applies to join EU.

Russia and Ukraine hold a first round of ceasefire talks at the Belarusian border. They disband after five hours without an agreement.

Russian shelling pounds Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, home to 1.5 million people. Russian artillery bombards residential districts, killing at least 11 people, according to Ukrainian officials. Zeleknsyy says the Russian plan is to terrorise the country’s civilian population.

Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Security Council denies that Russian troops are targeting civilians, saying, “We hear lies and deceit about the indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian facilities, hospitals and schools … the Russian army does not threaten civilians in Ukraine; it does not shell civilian infrastructure.”

The UN General Assembly begins its first emergency meeting in decades to discuss Russia’s invasion, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying the path to diplomacy must remain open. More than 500,000 Ukrainians have fled the country, the UN also says.

Oil giant Shell says it will withdraw from joint projects with Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly. Shell’s equity in these projects is valued at $3bn. It says it will also end its involvement in Nord Stream 2.

The effect of barring Russian banks from SWIFT is felt, as the rouble tumbles 30 percent, forcing Putin to issue a decree imposing capital controls. Russians are prohibited from transferring money or making loan payments abroad, though the central bank a day later clarifies that external debt could still be paid. Russians line up outside banks to make withdrawals.

The EU – along with the US and other allies – places a ban on transactions with the Russian Central Bank, meaning payments to Russian companies and entities cannot be sent.

INTERACTIVE- Airspace closures for Russian aircraft
(Al Jazeera)

March 1: A 65km-long Russian convoy amasses on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Pressure also increases on Kharkiv and Mariupol in the east, and Kherson in the south of the country. A Russian missile strikes the square in front of the Kharkiv administrative building, blowing off its roof and gutting it. Zelenskyy calls the attack “frank, undisguised terror”.

Human Rights Watch reports that Russians are using cluster bombs against civilians. Ukrainian officials also accuse Russia of targeting a television tower in Kyiv in an attack that killed five people.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine dominates the early parts of Biden’s first State of the Union address. The US president announces the country will close American airspace to Russian flights and promises that Putin will pay a “continuing price” for the war.

Zelenskyy calls on Western nations to consider imposing a no-fly zone for Russian aircraft. The US dismisses the request, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying the move could draw Washington into a direct conflict with Moscow.

March 2: The UN General Assembly approves a non-binding resolution condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and demanding an immediate withdrawal. The resolution is supported by 141 of the assembly’s 193 members. Thirty-five member states, including China, abstain.

Russia claims its forces have captured Kherson, in southern Ukraine. Local authorities deny the city has fallen, but say Russian troops have encircled it.

Russia’s negotiator says a second round of talks will take place on Thursday, but Ukraine casts doubt on the plan. The UN says more than 870,000 people have fled Ukraine since the invasion began.

The US announces the creation of a new task force – dubbed “KleptoCapture” – aimed at holding Russian oligarchs accountable and ensuring that a series of US sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are being enforced.

Interactive showing how countries voted.
[Al Jazeera]
Source: Al Jazeera