When the dates showed February 24, 2022, European lands faced a new threat of war for the first time after World War II.
Russia had stepped in to occupy Ukrainian territory and the job was thought to be difficult for Ukraine. Exactly one year later, the war is still going on, and Russia has not reached its goal.
Let’s take a look at what has happened since then…
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the order to invade Ukraine from the north, east and south.
Putin called this a “special military operation”. He also said that he aimed at “demilitarizing” and “de-Nazis” the country in order to thwart Kiev’s NATO membership and keep it within Russia’s “influence”.
Ukraine and the West reacted by saying it was an act of unlawful attack on a country with a democratically elected government and a Jewish president whose relatives were killed in the Holocaust.
This invasion attempt did not happen as Russia had predicted. As Russian troops expected to take Kiev in perhaps hours, their attempts to capture the capital and other cities in the northeast met fierce resistance.
So much so that the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky showed that he was the head of his country with a video he took in front of his headquarters.
Russia was advancing towards Kiev with all its determination. It was reflected in the media that the length of the Russian convoy, consisting of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other military vehicles, extended up to 64 kilometers.
On March 2, Russia took control of the southern city of Kherson. Russian forces had occupied a large part of the Zaporizhzhia region, including the largest in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
The resistance of the Ukrainian people continued endlessly. People with Ukrainian flags were walking towards the trucks belonging to the Russian army to protest the occupation in the city of Kherson.
They met for the first time
On the other hand, Turkey’s diplomatic efforts to ensure peace continued. Turkey had taken the first step towards peace in Antalya. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu brought his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts together in Antalya.
Russia attacked Mariupol
On March 16, Russia attacked a theater in the strategic port city of Mariupol, where civilians took shelter, and carried out one of the bloodiest attacks of the war. Hundreds of people died in this attack.
Delegations met on 29 March
Following President Erdogan’s calls for negotiations, delegations from Ukraine and Russia met for the first time at the Presidential Dolmabahçe Work Office in Istanbul.
That same day, Moscow announced it would withdraw its forces from Kiev and other regions, saying it would focus on the eastern industrial hub of Donbass, where Russia-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014 following the illegal annexation of Crimea.
On 9 April, the targets of Russian missiles were on a train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk. 52 civilians were killed and more than 100 injured in this attack.
Intense clashes continued for Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. Russian airstrikes and artillery shelling had devastated most of the city.
While the conflicts continued, a very critical move for Russia came from Ukraine. On 13 April, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva missile cruiser, was hit and sunk by Ukrainian missiles. This attack, which came in the third month of the war, was quite heavy for Russia.
Prisoner exchange between the US and Russia
Another important event that took place in April was the prisoner exchange between the USA and Russia. In cooperation with Ankara, the USA and Russia exchanged ex-US soldier Trevor Reed and Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who were detained in their countries, in Turkey.
On May 16, the huge Azovstal steelworks, Ukraine’s last remaining stronghold in Mariupol, also agreed to surrender to Russian forces. The fall of Mariupol separated Ukraine from the Azov coast and secured the land corridor from the Russian border to Crimea.
On May 18, Finland and Sweden submitted applications to NATO for the expansion of the military alliance.
While the war between Russia and Ukraine continued, the fact that the two countries became the world’s largest grain suppliers also triggered the global food crisis. The inability of ships loaded with grain to leave the ports caused a grain crisis in many countries. Meanwhile, the United Nations’ roadmap for the opening of a safe “Grain corridor” came to the fore.
This was one of the most important topics when Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov met in Ankara on 8 June.
The West did not leave Ukraine alone against Russia at the military level. Many weapons continued to arrive in Ukraine, including the US-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers.
On June 30, Russian troops withdrew from Snake Island, which was located in the Black Sea off the Port of Odessa and was captured in the first days of the occupation.
Steps have been taken for the Grain Corridor.
On July 22, Russia and Ukraine, with the mediation of Turkey and the United Nations, unblocked the grain supply stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and signed to end a stalemate that threatens global food security.
On July 29, in the Russian-controlled town of Olenivka, a missile attack was carried out on a prison in Mariupol, where captured Ukrainian soldiers were held. At least 53 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in this attack.
Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the attack. Russia claimed that the attack was carried out with American-made HIMARS rockets, while Ukraine claimed that Russia attacked to hide its war crimes.
The first ship to pass through the grain corridor on August 1 was the Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship “Razoni” departing from Ukraine.
On August 9, explosions were heard one after the other at the Novofedorivka military airbase in Russia’s annexed Crimea.
The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the incident occurred due to the explosion of ammunition. These eruptions marked the vulnerability of the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow had annexed.
Dugin’s car exploded
On August 20, Darya Dugina, daughter of Russian nationalist Alexander Dugin, died outside Moscow when a car bomb exploded, which Russian authorities blamed on Ukraine.
On September 6, Ukrainian forces launched a surprise counterattack in the Kharkiv region. This attack forced Russia to withdraw quickly from the areas it had controlled for months.
Addressing the nation on September 21, Putin declared partial mobilization in the country. He ordered the mobilization of 300,000 reserve soldiers. At the same time, Russia announced that a “referendum” would be held in Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. These referendums were rejected by the world on the grounds that they were not legal.
However, on September 30, Putin signed the decree annexing four regions at a ceremony in the Kremlin. On the other hand, the exchange of 200 prisoners of war from Russia and Ukraine took place in Turkey.
On October 8, a truck exploded as it crossed the Kerch Bridge, which is strategically important to the Kremlin.
Ukraine was blamed for this explosion on the bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland. After this attack, Russia responded with missile attacks on Ukraine’s power plants and other important infrastructures.
On November 9, Russia announced that it would withdraw from the city of Kherson under Ukrainian counter-attack. Leaving the only regional capital held by Moscow was a major step back for Russia. General Sergey Surovikin stated that it was no longer possible to keep the supply lines to the city.
Thus, all Russian forces on the western bank of the Dnieper River retreated to the eastern bank.
The Grain Corridor Agreement expired in November. Russia had claims that the agreement was not fulfilled. However, the Corridor was extended for another 120 days on 19 November with the initiatives of President Erdogan.
Ukraine attacked the Russian military airports of Dyagilevo and Engels with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Later, Russia also targeted Ukraine’s communications and energy systems.
On December 21, Zelensky made his first overseas trip to the United States after the start of the war. He met with President Joe Biden and also addressed Congress on securing Patriot air defense missile systems and other weapons.
Just a few minutes before the new year, many newly arrived Russian soldiers were killed in a missile attack on the Ukrainian city of Makiivka.
While the Russian Ministry of Defense said that 89 soldiers were killed, Ukrainian officials put the death toll as hundreds.
After months of heavy fighting, Russia announced on January 12 that it had captured the salt-mining town of Soledar, but Kiev accepted it days later. Moscow also continues its offensive to capture the Ukrainian stronghold of Bakhmut.
On January 14, when Russia launched a new wave of attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities, a Russian missile hit an apartment in the city of Dnipro, killing 45 people.
On February 20, US President Joe Biden made an unexpected visit to Ukraine. This meeting once again showed the support of the USA to Ukraine.
Graphic: Şeyma Özkaynak/ TRT News