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Russia Launched A Massive Invasion Of Ukraine

March 4, 2022
Ruined buildings in the eastern city of Kharkiv after Russian bombardment in late February. Via international media.

In the early morning of February 24 the Russian armed forces launched a multi-pronged invasion to overthrow Ukraine’s government and dominate the country. The Kremlin’s absurd justification, as explained by President Vladimir Putin, was to defeat Nazis and prevent Ukraine from obtaining nuclear weapons. In a matter of hours, missiles struck various targets followed by airborne landings as tank columns broke through from Belarus, Crimea, and the Russian frontier. But poor timing kept the Russians from entering Kyiv and their progress on the first day was limited to seizing the entombed Chernobyl nuclear power station and the Antonov International Airport in Hostomel. Both are located northwest of the Ukrainian capital.

As global outrage peaked and sanctions were imposed on Russia the Ukrainian armed forces became overstretched as they held back offensives in the southeast, the east, and the northwest. By February 26, the third day of the war, Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv managed to hold out against the Russians although their encirclement was underway. Earlier deliveries of anti-tank missile launchers such as FGM-148 Javelins and NLAWs proved useful in blunting Russian advances along open roads. (Other European countries like the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and even Australia have promised to deliver weaponry.) Viral footage of airstrikes by Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones also helped portray the Russian invasion as a shambles.

Yet more and more territory was lost as the days went by. On February 28 the Russians made considerable progress in the south where forces massed in Crimea reached Kherson and surrounded it. The city fell the next day the same time as Mariupol in the southeast was also encircled and besieged. With electricity and heating cut off the relentless bombardment of Mariupol killed hundreds. Russian airborne and mechanized units in the south are now consolidating Mykolaiv and Enerhodar, with a breakthrough in Zaporizhzhia in central Ukraine imminent.

In the north and northeast, however, Russian forces struggled to approach the outskirts of Kyiv and repeated helicopter assaults to the south and southwest had dismal results. Social media was flooded with imagery and video clips of Russian losses depicting abandoned combat vehicles and trucks. Ukraine’s defense ministry now estimates 9,000 Russian soldiers killed and more than a thousand combat vehicles destroyed. On March 1 satellite photos of a large convoy approaching the Ukrainian capital became fodder for “Western officials” quoted by international media–the Russians are preparing a final assault on the capital.

As the war reached its first week on March 2 the overall situation has deteriorated for Kyiv and the rest of the country; a million Ukrainians have fled abroad. With the exception of Odessa in the southwest the entire Black Sea coast is lost. The “separatists” in Luhansk and the Russian army have linked up in the east while Kharkiv is being demolished by siege. An enormous pincer from the north and northeast has formed to overwhelm Kyiv, where thousands of residents are armed, and desperate last minute ceasefire negotiations are taking place in neighboring Belarus.

Below is a breakdown of events from February 24 until March 2 using maps arranged by the UK’s defense ministry. (Alternate interactive maps of the war can be found here, here, and here.)

DAY 1 – February 24

DAY 2 – February 25

DAY 3 – February 26

DAY 4 – February 27

DAY 5 – February 28

DAY 6 – March 1

DAY 7 – March 2


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