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Russia-Ukraine: Two Years of War

Russia-Ukraine: Two Years of War

It's been two years since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and the war is still raging. GZERO looks back at the pivotal moments of the past 24 months.

The Latest:

  • Ukraine is still standing two years after Russian invasion
  • Can Ukraine win the war?
  • What's the plan for Ukraine after two years of war? Ian Bremmer explains
  • Yes, Vladimir Putin is winning
  • Russia is winning? Winning what?
  • What Ukraine needs after two years of war with Russia
  • Russia’s last independent pollster explains how Putin does i

  • Listen:


    Feb. 24, 2022: Russia launches “special military operation” in Ukraine

    War in Ukraine

    On Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin launches a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, labeling it a "special military operation." The aim? The "demilitarization and denazification" of Ukraine, according to Putin, who warns of inevitable clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Any bloodshed, he says, would be on Ukraine’s hands.

    Feb. 28, 2022: The ruble nosedives

    Days after Russian troops invade eastern Ukraine, the country's currency plummets, shedding up to 30% of its value against the US dollar. This drastic decline follows allied sanctions, specifically targeting Russia’s central bank and major lenders. Such a sharp depreciation of the ruble has occurred only twice before: during the 1998 Russian financial crisis and again in late 2014.

    March 2022: Putin = Common denominator

    Putin Past the Point of No Return | Putin's Europe Problem | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

    While NATO forces aren't directly engaged, the US and its allies support Ukraine through arms, financial aid, and stringent sanctions against Moscow. Vladimir Putin's approach, reminiscent of past-century warfare, falters in the modern era of global PR and social media dominance. The repercussions extend far beyond Ukraine, capturing the attention of countries like Finland, transitioning from neutrality to NATO hopeful. Former Finland PM Alexander Stubb, reflecting on Putin's stance and China's hesitance to fully support Russia, highlights the evolving geopolitical dynamics. On this award-winning episode of GZERO World, Ian Bremmer talks to Stubb, who once helped broker Russia's 2008 cease-fire with Georgia and believes Putin has backed himself into a corner but won't back down on Ukraine.

    April 2022: Russia retreats from Kyiv, Bucha massacre uncovered

    Is Putin's war in Ukraine genocide?

    As Ukrainian forces retake Kyiv and Russian troops begin retreating to eastern and southern Ukraine, gruesome images surface from Bucha, a Kyiv suburb, revealing that civilians – women, children, and elderly – lay dead in the streets. Ukrainian officials and independent sources share horrific accounts of rape, torture, and execution by Russian soldiers, and hundreds of victims are found in mass graves. Russia denies responsibility and instead points fingers at Ukraine.

    More on this:

    June 2022: Russia withdraws from Snake Island

    Russia retreats from Snake Island, with the Kremlin calling it a "gesture of goodwill" to disprove the hindrance of Ukrainian food exports, but Ukrainians credit their missile strikes. The blockade disrupted Ukraine's monthly grain exports of five million metric tons, spiking global food prices and sparking famine fears in Africa. Zmiinyi Island, 22 miles off Ukraine's coast, offers strategic advantages, but its capture hindered Kyiv's defense of the southwestern coast and Odesa port. While a Ukrainian victory, naval weakness hampers food export resumption, underscoring Kremlin's Donbas focus.

    August 2022: Fighting around Zaporizhzhia power plant raises fears

    Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant in Peril | US Energy Secretary Granholm | GZERO World

    Artillery duels erupt at Europe’s largest nuclear power station in Zaporizhzhia, southern Ukraine, now under Russian occupation. Both sides accuse the other of instigating the conflict. The IAEA raises concerns over the potential for a nuclear catastrophe, as shelling severely damages radiation sensors near a spent fuel storage unit. President Volodymyr Zelensky condemns the situation as “Russian nuclear terror.”

    Sept. 11, 2022: Ukraine pushes back, reclaims over a thousand square miles

    On the 200th day of the war, the Ukrainian military achieves its most significant gains against Russia since the invasion began. President Volodymyr Zelensky declares the liberation of over 1,000 kilometers of territory, pledging to "de-occupy" completely.

    Sept. 21, 2022: Russia calls up reservists

    Russia calls up reservists

    Vladimir Putin dramatically ups the ante and orders the partial mobilization of up to 300,000 reservists for the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian defiance persists, with Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden, reaffirming their commitment to pressure Putin's government and military. Meanwhile, Russia grapples with internal unrest, evident in protests and a surge of draft-age men fleeing the country. While Putin stops short of full mobilization, ongoing setbacks in the "special military operation" raise concerns about future escalations.

    Sept. 26, 2022: Who blew up Nord Stream?

    Who blew up Nord Stream? Ian Bremmer

    The controversial Nord Stream gas pipelines connecting Russia to Germany and Europe are sabotaged, leading to multiple investigations into whodunnit.

    September 2022: Russia holds referenda in occupied parts of eastern Ukraine

    Russian annexations

    Putin’s sham referenda in four regions of Ukraine officially moves forward to annexations. Yet, with ongoing clashes, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson remain battlegrounds. Securing control amid Ukrainian resistance could provide Putin with a strategic land bridge from southeastern Ukraine to Crimea, annexed in 2014. While Russia holds Luhansk and Kherson, and portions of Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk, Ukrainian forces persist in gaining ground. The referenda offer Putin a pretext, framing Ukrainian/Western attacks as assaults on Russia. Amid a faltering war, Putin terms it an "anti-colonial movement." In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky seeks accelerated NATO accession.

    Oct. 8, 2022: Kerch Bridge blast


    Russia launches a series of airstrikes targeting major Ukrainian cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and even Lviv, previously deemed a haven. The attacks, hitting civilian areas during rush hour, inflict considerable damage to infrastructure, causing power outages and driving civilians into bomb shelters. While the death toll remains unconfirmed, casualties are expected to be substantial. This military escalation follows Saturday's explosion on the Crimea-Russia Kerch bridge, which Putin attributes to Ukrainian "terrorists." The strikes were ordered before Putin's National Security Council meeting, suggesting retaliation planning. Though the Kremlin has yet to comment officially, Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov expresses satisfaction, advocating for reprisals against Ukrainian infrastructure.

    January 2023: US and Germany offer tanks

    Ukraine tanks up

    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announces Germany's decision to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, following pressure from NATO countries led by Poland. Berlin initially resisted, concerned about antagonizing Russia and awaiting US action on supplying Abrams tanks. Two tank battalions, totaling roughly 80 Leopard 2 tanks, will be deployed to Ukraine, with training for Ukrainian soldiers commencing in Germany. However, US tank shipments may not arrive until spring, as the Ukrainian military lacks Abrams operation knowledge and maintenance supply lines and faces fuel consumption concerns.

    February 2023: Biden visits Kyiv

    Biden’s visit to Ukraine signals US commitment, but war gets tougher | Quick Take | GZERO Media

    President Biden makes a surprise trip to Kyiv, just before the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. It's significant as the first visit by an American president since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and intervention in Southeast Ukraine. This underscores continued US commitment symbolically, boosts Ukrainian morale, and reassures NATO of America's unwavering prioritization of Ukraine, despite substantial aid and a year of conflict. The trip holds immense importance for diplomatic relations, emphasizing the enduring support for Ukraine amidst ongoing tensions with Russia.

    June 8, 2023: Ukraine launches counteroffensive

    Ukraine ups the ante

    The New York Times reports that Ukraine's nearly two-month-old counteroffensive is ramping up in the southeast, per two anonymous Pentagon officials. Thousands of previously held-back reserves are now deploying to the front lines. Both Ukrainian and Russian reports corroborate this escalation. Whether Ukraine gains strategic ground or not marks a pivotal juncture in the war.

    June 24, 2023: Prigozhin stages mutiny

    Russia’s aborted coup, explained

    Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin stages a failed mutiny against Vladimir Putin. Ian Bremmer predicts the move will be the beginning of the end of Prigozhin. According to Bremmer, Prigozhin, in the lead-up to his mutiny, had become increasingly erratic, indicative of his declining political influence. What's more, he directed fury at Russia’s Ministry of Defense, accusing them of sending thousands of soldiers to their deaths due to corruption, incompetence, and cowardice.

    July 2023: Russia’s exit from the Black Sea Grain Deal

    Russia's exit from Black Sea grain deal will drive up food prices | Europe In: 60

    Russia announces its exit from the Black Sea grain deal, a move GZERO's Europe In :60 host and former Sweden PM Carl Bildt predicts would have severe consequences on global food prices. Continuous attacks on grain terminals near the Ukrainian-Romanian border aggravate the situation. Meanwhile, the progress of the Ukrainian counteroffensive slows down due to extensive Russian fortifications and mines. The Ukrainian army, largely composed of mobilized individuals with limited training, faces significant challenges.

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    Aug. 23, 2023: Prigozhin dies in plane crash

    Wagner's Prigozhin dies

    Russian state media reports a private aircraft crash outside Moscow, killing all 10 aboard, including Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group warlord behind a failed mutiny against the Kremlin in June.

    September 2023: Peace in Ukraine is world's priority, says UN chief António Guterres

    November 2023: US govt avoids shutdown, cuts Ukraine funding

    Shutdown averted, but deal contains no aid for Ukraine

    Ukraine's funding struggle continues as a divided US House finally reached an agreement to avoid a government shutdown but notably did not include military aid for either Ukraine or Israel. Democrats had tried to lump aid for Israel - which received bipartisan support - together with that of Ukraine, which faced resistance from Republicans. The decision is a significant blow to Ukraine, whose somewhat successful resistance against the Russian offensive relied heavily on US funding. What's more, their hopes of getting assistance from the EU face threats from Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán—an ally of Vladimir Putin.

    February 2024: Russia recaptures Avdiivka

    Pro-Russia blogger commits suicide, Russia recaptures Avdiivka

    In mid-February 2024, Russian forces in Ukraine scored their first major victory in months, taking the strategic town of Avdiivka. A pro-Russian blogger who reported that 16,000 Russian troops had died in the effort faced a huge backlash and committed suicide.


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