Worst crisis since WWII: Russia-Ukraine war crosses 100-day mark

Ukraine on Friday crosses the 100-day mark since Russia launched a war against its eastern neighbor on Feb. 24, as the invading forces seek to advance in the industrial city of Severodonetsk to expand Moscow’s control area in eastern Ukraine.

The first 100 days of the war “have led to devastating consequences for children on a scale and pace” unseen since World War II, while on average, at least two children have been killed a day, said the United Nations on International Day for Protection of Children, celebrated on June 1 every year.

At least 243 children have died as a result of Russian attacks, while another 446 children were wounded by Russian forces, the Ukrainian Chief Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday. According to U.N. estimates, at least 4,149 civilians have been killed and 4,945 injured in Ukraine since the start of the war, with the true toll believed to be much higher. One of every six people has been internally displaced due to the war, making the total 7.7 million, said the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration. Over 6.8 million people have fled to other countries, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Russian and Ukrainian delegations have held a total of four face-to-face negotiations to ensure a cease-fire, with three of them in Belarus and one in Turkey. In Belarus, both sides could only agree on humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones. As a result of mediation attempts by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Ukrainian side delivered the principles of a draft agreement to the Russian side during negotiations held in Istanbul on March 29.

Key moments from the first 100 days of the war:

‘Special military intervention’

During the early hours of Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin greenlighted a long-feared “special military intervention” in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region which led to the start of the war. The Russian president claimed the intervention was a “forced measure.”

Ukraine announced that it would impose a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the cities of Cherkasy, Dnipro and Mykolaiv as well as the capital Kyiv, the Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications said in a statement.

The next day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a general mobilization.

The Council of Europe suspended Russia’s right of representation “as a result of its armed attack on Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia wants to replace Ukraine’s government.

On Feb. 27, the European Union, United Kingdom, United States and Canada announced that “certain” Russian banks would be removed from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) banking system.

Meanwhile, the EU banned Russian civilian aircraft from EU airspace.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said a Russian delegation arrived in Belarus for peace talks with Ukraine. A day after, Ukraine applied to join the EU. The bloc approved a $554 million support package for the Ukrainian military. For the first time, the EU would finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and equipment to a country under attack, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The Russian military simultaneously entered Ukraine’s Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernihiv regions via the Russian border and the Chernobyl region via Belarus.

The Russian army landed troops in the Kherson and Melitopol regions while air and ground troops were sent to areas near Kyiv and besieged the areas.

Mariupol under attack

Despite Ukraine’s strong resistance, Russian forces targeted military infrastructure facilities and also besieged Kharkiv and Mariupol since the beginning of the war. With clashes between the Ukrainian and Russian armies in the Kharkiv region still ongoing, Ukrainian authorities announced that they had regained control of some settlements in the area.

In the first month, the Russian troops aimed to seize the strategic cities on the Azov Sea coast and captured the port city of Berdyansk. In the third month of the war, Mariupol, one of the most important port cities of Ukraine on the Sea of Azov, came under Russia’s control following a long siege. After days of fighting, Mariupol fell into ruins.

On March 9, Mariupol’s city council reported that a children’s hospital was destroyed by Russian bombing. The following day, Russian forces bombed an evacuation corridor, preventing humanitarian supplies from reaching Mariupol.

Kherson became another city that came under the control of the Russian army. While a region in Kherson was already using the Russian ruble, it was announced that it would be used in the entire city by the end of the year.

For the first time amid the war, Russia and Ukraine’s foreign ministers held high-level talks in Turkey.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy asked the United States to allow Poland to transfer its MIG-29 jets to the Ukrainian Air Force.

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that at least 2,439 Ukrainian fighters who were hiding in the shelters on the Azovstal steelworks site in Mariupol surrendered to the Russian army and laid down their arms. After taking control of the Azovstal steel plant, the Russian army took complete control of the port city. By the end of March, Mariupol’s city council claimed that Russia had illegally deported 15,000 civilians to Russia on buses.

Also, Zelenskyy claimed that 90% of the buildings in Mariupol had been destroyed by the Russian bombing, adding that “there is nothing” left in Volnovakha.

On March 30, the UNHCR said the number of people fleeing Ukraine due to the war with Russia had reached 4 million.

Bucha tragedy

In the early days of April, Mikhail Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, said civilians in the city of Bucha near the capital were found dead with their hands tied as Russian troops withdrew. However, Russian authorities denied the claim, saying the alleged war crimes were staged by Ukrainian authorities and constitute a “provocation.”

Ukraine’s prosecutor-general said the bodies of at least 410 civilians were recovered in Bucha and the wider Kyiv region. The civilian killings in Bucha revealed an “unbearable brutality” that Europe had not seen for decades, said NATO’s secretary-general.

U.S. President Joe Biden accused Russia of committing “major war crimes” in Ukraine and vowed to inflict more costs on Moscow, while Stoltenberg said Ukraine has an “urgent need” for military support and noted that it is important that allies agree to further support Kyiv.

On April 7, the NATO chief condemned the “horrific” scenes from Bucha, saying those who committed the atrocities must be brought to justice. “We are living through bleak times. Putin’s ruthless war still rages in Ukraine,” said von der Leyen. Following a visit to Bucha, von der Leyen called the killings of civilians “unthinkable.”

At least 50 people were killed in a Russian attack on a railway station in the city of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region.

The EU adopted a fifth round of sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine war. By that time, Ukraine had retaken the entire Kyiv region from Russian forces, according to the country’s Defense Ministry.

Ukraine’s Azov Regiment announced that Russian troops dropped a poisonous substance of unknown origin on Mariupol from an unmanned aerial vehicle.

On April 13, Biden labeled the situation in Ukraine a “genocide” and called the Russian president a “dictator.” The U.S. announced an $800 million tranche of military equipment deliveries to Ukraine.

In week eight of Russia’s war, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said nine humanitarian corridors would be opened to evacuate civilians from the country’s besieged cities. The leaders of Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania visited Zelenskyy in Kyiv in a show of support.

New large-scale offensive

On April 18, Zelenskyy announced that Russia was starting a new offensive in eastern Ukraine to take full control of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. “It can now be stated that Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time. A very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to the nation on day 54 of the war.

Zelenskyy also formally submitted Ukraine’s completed questionnaire to the EU, the first step on the road to EU membership.

Meanwhile, Russian troops continued advancing in the direction of the eastern cities of Popasna, Malinka and Rubizhne.

Biden announced a second $800 million military aid package for Ukraine in as many weeks as Kyiv’s forces braced for a looming Russian offensive, while Russian forces continued to shell Kharkiv.

On April 25, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited the Ukrainian leader in the capital city, pledging a new $322 million package of cash for military aid, bringing the total pledged to $3.7 billion.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his country’s readiness to take the initiative to end the war between Russia and Ukraine and mediate toward the road to peace during his call with Russia’s Putin.

There is an “absolute possibility” that the Russia-Ukraine war could continue for months or years, said Stoltenberg.

By the end of April, Biden asked U.S. Congress to provide an additional $33 billion to aid Ukraine and grant him new powers to crack down on Russian oligarchs. Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. had started training Ukrainian forces on new military systems at American military installations in Germany.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the other hand, reiterated his call to the U.S. and NATO to stop supplying arms to Ukraine.

Odessa and Mykolaiv

On May 1, Zelenskyy met with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Kyiv.

At least 24,200 Russian soldiers had so far been killed in Ukraine since the beginning of war, Ukraine claimed.

Speaking at the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, France, von der Leyen said the European Commission proposes “a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.”

In the 11th week of the war, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country will continue its military support to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

Russian troops made major gains around Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region as Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexey Zaytsev announced that Moscow has no intentions to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

The G-7 leaders release a statement condemning Putin’s actions in Ukraine for bringing shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people.

On May 9, in his speech marking the 77th anniversary of Victory Day in Moscow’s Red Square, Putin said his “special military operation” in Ukraine was necessary, adding that “Russia preventively rebuffed the aggressor. It was necessary, timely and … right. The decision of a sovereign, strong, independent country.”

Meanwhile, Russia increased its attacks on the Odessa and Mykolaiv regions. As of the second week of May, clashes increased over Snake Island, which has a strategic location in the southwest of Ukraine in the Black Sea.

Although the Ukrainian army made attempts to take the island, which has been under the control of the Russians from the beginning of the war, they have been unsuccessful.

The Russian Defense Ministry on May 10 claimed that the Ukrainian army lost a total of four aircraft, 10 helicopters, 30 unmanned aerial vehicles, three armored warships and more than 50 soldiers in the last three days of war.

Also, at least 1,351 Russian soldiers died and 3,825 were injured in the first month of the war, according to Russian military authorities, who did not disclose further details. Russian officials claimed that the Ukrainian army had lost 23,367 soldiers during the war, while Ukraine claimed that 29,350 Russian soldiers had died so far. Neither the Ukrainian nor the Russian side gave exact figures regarding civilian casualties in the war.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive continues

In the 12th week of Russia’s war on Ukraine, the country’s forces continued a counteroffensive against Russian troops in the eastern part of the country. The Ukrainian General Staff claimed that Ukrainian forces had so far killed 26,350 Russian soldiers and destroyed 199 Russian aircraft, 160 helicopters, 390 unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,187 tanks, 2,856 armored vehicles and 528 artillery systems.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the “senseless war” between Russia and Ukraine should come to an end. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing massive devastation, destruction and suffering in the country, triggering the largest displacement in Europe since World War II and sending shockwaves across the region and world,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy pledged that Kyiv will keep on fighting against the Russian-imposed war until it restores total territorial unity.

On May 12, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said during his visit to Germany that Kyiv expects the EU to grant Ukraine candidate status in late June.

Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell ahead of a G-7 meeting announced that the bloc will offer another 500 million euros ($532 million) in military aid to Ukraine, bringing the total support to over $2 billion.

The following day, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu for the first time since Moscow began its war against Ukraine, said the Pentagon.

For the first time, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces were focusing on retreating from Kharkiv.

G-7 countries called on Russia to stop its war against Ukraine, pledging strong support for Kyiv.

Ukraine triumphed at the 66th edition of the Eurovision song contest held in Italy, winning the competition for the third time in its history.

Talks suspended

On May 17, Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, announced that talks between Ukraine and Russia are currently suspended. French President Emmanuel Macron guaranteed increased delivery of arms to his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskyy and confirmed that Kyiv’s application for EU membership will be discussed next month by the governing body.

Since the start of war, Turkey had evacuated and placed in an accommodation center 1,113 Ahiska Turks, also known as Meskhetian Turks.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that 959 Ukrainian officers surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol over the past day.

At least 28,300 Russian soldiers have so far been killed during the war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry claimed.

Germany promised further military support to Ukraine to help the country defend itself against Russia’s attacks.

“Russia must not win this war. Ukraine must prevail,” said Chancellor Scholz.

The U.S. Senate approved a $40 billion Ukraine aid package in a 86-11 vote.

The G-7 countries announced that they had agreed to provide $19.8 billion in economic aid to help Ukraine close its financing gap and continue ensuring the delivery of basic services to the Ukrainian people.

Fights around Popasna

Russian troops reportedly broke through Ukrainian lines north and west of Popasna in the Severodonetsk region. Shoigu claimed that 1,908 Ukrainian fighters at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol had surrendered.

On May 21, the Ukrainian leader said his country is prepared to exchange its troops who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol for Russian prisoners. Following the evacuation of the last people at the Azovstal steel plant, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed it has full control of Mariupol.

Ukraine confirmed ongoing fighting in Toshkivka, Komyshuvakha, Trypillya and Vasylivka.

The UNCHR officially reported 3,930 Ukrainian civilian deaths since the start of war.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy announced that Russia had so far launched 2,275 missiles and 3,000 aerial strikes against Ukraine.

“The enemy is carrying out intense fire impact along the entire line of encounter … The greatest combat activity is observed in the Donetsk operational area, namely the vicinity of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk,” according to Ukraine’s General Staff.

Ukraine’s president warned that the longer Russia’s war against his country continues, the greater the price will be of “protecting freedom.”

Russian citizenship

On May 25, Putin signed a decree easing Russian citizenship rules for residents of Ukraine’s Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, currently under the control of the Russian army. Russia announced that it will open sea corridors for foreign ships to the Black Sea.

Ukraine claimed that at least 30,000 Russian troops had died in the war so far.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine had fallen under the full control of Russian forces.

On May 30 in a phone call, Turkish leader Erdoğan separately discussed the war on Ukraine with Putin and Zelenskyy.

EU countries agreed to reduce the amount of oil purchased from Russia by 90% by the end of 2022.

With aims to discuss establishing a security corridor, Russia’s top diplomat and a military delegation will arrive in Turkey on June 8, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

EU leaders endorsed the European Commission’s 300 billion euro ($319 billion) plan on replacing Russian fossil fuels, while Biden announced that the U.S. will give Ukraine “more advanced rocket systems” to strike “key targets on the battlefield.”

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