Ukraine war anniversary: timeline of key events each month a year on since Russia’s onslaught

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Ukraine is suffering "First World War levels of attrition" as the country nears one year since Russia’s onslaught began

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A year since the beginning of Russia’s war on Ukraine will be marked on 24 February, with a national minute’s silence to be held across the UK at 11am.

The moment of reflection was confirmed by the government after the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to lead the nation in silence from Downing Street.

He said: "As we approach the anniversary of Russia’s barbaric and deplorable invasion of Ukraine, as a nation we pay tribute to the incredible bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people. Russia’s unjustifiable attack brought war and destruction to our continent once again, and it has forced millions from their homes and devastated families across Ukraine and Russia.”

The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said 97% of the Russian army is now estimated to be in Ukraine and the country is suffering "First World War levels of attrition", he told the BBC.

Here we take a look back at the events of the war so far since it began in February 2022.

February 2022

  • Russia invaded on 24 February, attacking the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in an attempt to overthrow Zelensky’s government. 

  • A defiant Zelenskyy filmed himself walking through the streets of Kyiv and said: “I am here. We will not lay down any weapons.”

  • Many experts expected Kyiv to fall swiftly, but after weeks of fighting, Russia pulled back.

  • Evidence of Russian atrocities started to emerge in the wake of the retreat.

  • The EU opened its doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring out of Ukraine, with neighbouring countries like Poland, Hungary and Romania praised for their generosity. 

  • The United Nations condemned Russia’s aggression and the West imposed sanctions on Moscow.


  • Russian forces took the Kherson region, including the regional capital, aiming to secure Ukraine’s coast. 

  • Russia also sought to form a land bridge between the region of Crimea, which it illegally annexed in 2014, and breakaway republics that were set up with Moscow’s backing that year in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions - together known as Donbas.

  • Far more civilians were killed in Ukraine in March than in any other month of the war, according to United Nations data.

  • Hundreds of bodies of civilians were found in mass graves in Bucha. Many were bound and shot at close range, while others showed signs of torture and rape.

  • Russia began cracking down on independent media with several local stations shut down and access to foreign media restricted.


  • In early April, a Russian missile struck a train station in Kramatorsk, a city in Donetsk, killing more than 50 civilians. Most of them were trying to evacuate to safety, say Ukrainian officials.

  • The attack came at the start of a Russian offensive, ordered by Putin to seize all of Donbas.

  • Nearly two-thirds of Ukraine’s children are now displaced by war, the UN said.


  • The last Ukrainian fighters surrendered to Russian forces in Mariupol, a port city and industrial hub after weeks of bombardment that killed thousands of civilians. 

  • The fighting ended with a siege of the Azovstal steel plant, which had become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

  • Sweden and Finland unveiled their bids to join NATO, although there was political opposition from Turkey and Hungary which continued all year. 

  • Russia held its yearly Victory Day Parade on 9 May to mark the USSR’s defeat of Nazism in the Second World War. 

  • Ukraine won the Eurovision song contest, though Italian police reveal the event was targeted by Russian hackers.


  • 100 days of war have passed. 

  • Ukrainian forces recaptured Snake Island, a sliver of land in the Black Sea off the Ukrainian city of Odesa, which Russian troops had captured in February. 

  • By driving Russian forces from the island Ukraine eased the threat to Odesa.

  • Nike leaves Russia, becoming the latest in a string of western brands to exit the country over the war. 

  • A global food crisis started to loom with up to 181 million people in 41 countries facing acute food insecurity and outright famine, UN projections showed.


  • The last city under Ukrainian control in Luhansk, Lysychansk, fell to Russia after weeks of bloody fighting.

  • Ukraine’s embattled forces focused on defending Donetsk, the second part of the prized Donbas. 

  • Russia began periodically shutting down the Nord Stream gas pipelines to increase pressure on Europe. 

  • Ukraine and Russia agreed to a landmark deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported across the Black Sea to ease the global food crisis.


  • Ukraine formally launched a counteroffensive in the Kherson region. 

  • Ukraine attacked a Russian air base in Crimea.

  • Ukraine and Russia flirted with catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine for months but UN chief Antonio Guterres said the pair should stop their “suicidal attacks” on the nuclear plant.

  • A suspected car bomb goes off in Moscow killing TV commentator Daria Dugina. Observers thought her father Aleksandr Dugin, dubbed ‘Putin’s brain’, may have been the intended target.

  • All gas exports to Europe were halted on 31 August, with Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom citing maintenance work on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.


  • Ukraine retook much of the northeastern Kharkiv region and later recaptured the city of Lyman in Donetsk Province.

  • Zelenskyy raised the Ukrainian flag in the war-scarred city of Izium on 10 September - this was a big strategic win for Kyiv. 

  • Russia officially annexed Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia on 30 September in a move branded illegal under international law. Putin said the annexed regions will be part of Russia "forever".


  • An explosion damaged the Kerch Strait Bridge linking Crimea with Russia - it served as a major supply route for Moscow’s forces fighting in Ukraine. 

  • Kyiv did not take responsibility for the blast, though Russia pointed to “Ukrainian terror”. 

  • Two days later, Russia attacked Ukrainian towns and cities from land, sea and air, to cripple the country’s energy infrastructure. 


  • Under military pressure, Russian forces withdrew from the city of Kherson to the eastern side of the Dnipro River - a significant victory for Ukraine.

  • Ukrainian troops poured into Kherson on 11 November.

  • Poland was put on high alert after a blast near the Ukrainian border killed two - the deadly explosion was caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile.  

  • NATO promised to admit Ukraine into the western alliance but there were doubts over when Kyiv would be allowed to join. 


  • Zelensky visited the US, his first state visit outside the country since the start of the war.

  • US President Joe Biden promised to send Patriot air defence systems to help Ukraine stave off Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure.

  • Moscow warned Washington over sending more weapons to Kyiv.

  • On Christmas Day, Putin claimed Russia is “ready to negotiate” with Ukraine and he publicly used the word "war" to refer to his country’s invasion for the first time.

January 2023

  • Ukrainian forces struck a building in Donetsk where Russian troops had been housed. Moscow acknowledged the deaths of 89 soldiers in the attack.

  • Germany finally agreed to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks, paving the way for the US and other NATO allies to follow suit. Russia slammed it as a “blatant provocation”.

  • Almost as soon as the tank deliveries got the green light, Kyiv began asking for fighter jets.

  • Ukraine admitted withdrawing from the eastern town of Soledar, reversing Russia’s military fortunes. 

  • Russia and Belarus began joint drills, sparking fears Moscow could use its ally to launch a fresh ground offensive in spring.

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