After months of tensions between Moscow and Kyiv, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea on February 24, triggering global condemnation and a chain of reactions.
The West quickly responded with unprecedented sanctions that still continue. NATO has also since expanded with membership applications from Sweden and Finland, despite Russia’s warnings against the moves.
And the bifurcation of the global financial and trade system is under way.
Here is a timeline of the developments:
February 21: Russian President Vladimir Putin orders troops into the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, and recognises them as independent states.
February 22: The Russian parliament authorises Putin to use military force. The United States places full blocking sanctions on the Kremlin-controlled VEB bank and PSB bank. Germany immediately halts the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
February 23: The European Union freezes the assets of 351 Duma members.
February 24: Russia launches a full-scale assault on Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy orders a general mobilisation. The US bars five more Russian banks from the US financial system, and freezes four of the banks’ US-held assets.
February 25: Russia vetoes a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding that it unconditionally pull its troops out of Ukraine.
February 26: The EU says it will bar selected Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system, essentially cutting them off from the global financial system.
February 27: Russian troops press towards three cities, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says Russian civilian aircraft are banned from EU airspace, and Russian state-owned media Russia Today, Sputnik and their subsidiaries are banned from EU airwaves and the internet.
February 28: The EU approves a 500 million euro ($537m) support package for the Ukrainian military. “This is the first time in history that the EU will be providing lethal equipment to a third country,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says. Total EU aid has since risen to 4.5bn euros ($4.8bn). Ukraine applies to join the EU, which bans transactions with Russia’s central bank. The Russian rouble tumbles 30 percent.
March 1: In a new offensive, a Russian convoy 65km long heads for Kyiv.
March 2: Russian tanks enter Kherson, making the southern Ukrainian town the first major population centre (250,000 people) to fall. Russian forces surround Mariupol.
March 8: The European Commission unveils REPowerEU, a plan to reduce dependence on Russian natural gas by two-thirds by the end of the year, surpassing in ambition the plan unveiled on March 3 by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The US imposes a ban on Russian crude oil imports.
March 9: Russian air strikes target a maternity hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol.
March 10: The US Congress approves $13.6bn in spending for Ukraine.
March 11: The EU issues the Versailles Declaration, calling on member states to strengthen defence spending, investment, research and co-ordination. The US leads a new round of sanctions against Russia backed by the Group of Seven (G7) bloc of nations.
March 16: Hundreds die when Russian troops bomb the Mariupol theatre, as civilians shelter inside. Fighting reaches the city centre.
March 23: NATO estimates that Russia has lost 7,000-15,000 soldiers. The administration of US President Joe Biden formally determines that Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine. Putin says future gas sales to “unfriendly” countries – corresponding to the US, European Union members, the United Kingdom and Japan – will be denominated in roubles rather than US dollars.
March 24: On a trip to Europe, Biden pledges to provide Europe with 15 billion cubic metres (bcm) more natural gas than last year, bringing shipments to Europe to 37bcm this year. It pledges an additional 50bcm by 2030.
March 25: Russia says it will focus on consolidating its control over the eastern Ukrainian provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, and starts to withdraw troops from Kyiv.
March 26: During a visit to US troops in Poland, Biden appears to suggest regime change in Moscow. “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden says of Putin. Biden backpedals on the remark the following day.
March 29: Russian and Ukrainian negotiators meet in Istanbul. Ukraine puts forward a detailed proposal of neutrality.
April 1: An Al Jazeera report reveals that Russia is using proxy groups in Syria to recruit fighters for Ukraine.
April 2: As Russian troops withdraw from Bucha, a town northwest of Kyiv, dozens of corpses in civilian clothes are found on the streets.
April 7: Ukrainian authorities say Russia fired a cluster munition into a railway station packed with thousands of evacuees, killing at least 52. The attack takes place in the city of Kramatorsk in the eastern Donetsk region.
April 8: The EU bans imports of Russian coal, lumber, cement, seafood and fertilisers.
April 10: Russian forces bisect Mariupol.
April 14: Ukraine says it has sunk the Russian Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva with two Neptune missiles.
April 18: Russian forces launch a new, large-scale offensive in east Ukraine to take full control of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.
April 20: The International Monetary Fund forecasts global growth of 3.6 percent this year and next, a downward revision of 0.8 percent for this year and 0.2 percent for next year compared to January forecasts, owing to the war in Ukraine.
April 21: Putin declares victory in Mariupol, though 2,500 Ukrainian defenders in the Azovstal steelworks have not surrendered.
April 26: Austin presses delegates from 40 nations to contribute more weapons as soon as possible to Ukraine’s war effort at a military donors’ conference at Ramstein air base in Germany.
April 27: Russia cuts off gas flows to Bulgaria and Poland, allegedly for refusing to pay for gas in roubles.
May 2: Germany says it is willing to ban Russian oil immediately, in a change of position.
May 3: In a speech to the European Parliament, Italian prime minister Mario Draghi calls for a “pragmatic federalism” in which majorities of member states can override vetoes to collective action – a clear hint towards Hungary and Slovakia, which are blocking an EU ban of Russian oil and gas.
May 4: A Ukrainian counteroffensive north and east of Kharkiv has pushed Russian troops 40km back from the city, in the first major Ukrainian success since winning the battle for Kyiv.
May 9: French President Emmanuel Macron supports creating a strengthened form of association with the EU that would enable Ukraine and other EU hopefuls such as Moldova and Georgia to enjoy many aspects of membership quickly.
May 11: Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says Russia has deported some 460,000 Ukrainians to 6,500 camps across Russia. Ukraine for the first time limits Russian gas transiting its territory to Europe, cutting by one-quarter the flow of gas through one of two major pipelines.
May 12: Finland announces it will seek NATO membership.
May 15: Sweden announces it will apply for NATO membership, ending two centuries of neutrality.
May 18: The European Commission announces a 220 billion euro ($236bn) plan to ditch Russian fossil fuels over five years.
May 19: The US approves $40bn in new spending for Ukraine, half of it military investment.
May 20: Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder bows to pressure to resign his seat on the board of Russian oil giant Rosneft.
May 21: Russia says it has full control of Mariupol, after almost 2,500 Ukrainian troops surrender.
May 23: Ukraine sentences the first Russian soldier convicted of war crimes to life in prison.
May 25: Eduard Basurin, deputy head of the militia of the Russia-backed Donetsk People’s Republic, says Russia is for now abandoning the larger strategy of surrounding all of Ukraine’s forces in the east with a grand pincer movement, instead focusing on piecemeal isolations.
Zelenskyy blasts former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for suggesting that Ukraine surrender land to Russia. He likens it to the policy of appeasement in the 1930s.
May 26: Russian forces continue a slow encirclement of Severdonetsk, and are reportedly in possession of the northeastern portion of the city. Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Anna Malyar says “fighting has reached its maximum intensity. The enemy is storming the positions of our troops in several directions simultaneously”.
May 27: Russian forces advance on Severdonetsk from three different directions, and begin direct assaults on built-up areas of the city in the north, taking control of the Mir hotel.
In telephone calls with the leaders of France and Germany, Putin offers to facilitate Ukrainian grain exports in return for an easing of sanctions against Russia.
May 30: After some hesitation, Biden decides to send “more advanced rocket systems” to Ukraine to enable greater precision artillery strikes. The US will send guided multiple launch rocket systems (GMLRS) and high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) to add firepower to Ukraine’s defences.
May 31: Russian forces occupy the centre of Severdonetsk as Ukrainian troops make a tactical retreat. Fighting rages in the town of Toshkivka, south of Severdonetsk, as Russian forces attempt to complete an encirclement of Severdonetsk from the south.
In the south, Ukrainian forces press a counteroffensive towards Kherson, pushing Russian forces east of the Inhulets River.
The EU bans Russian oil and petroleum products, following a decision on a sixth package of sanctions against Russia. A temporary exception is made for pipeline oil, after the objections of landlocked countries that they could not easily supply themselves by sea.
Germany says it will send Ukraine the IRIS-T, the most modern artillery and targeting system it possesses. The system will come with radar that helps target enemy artillery.