15 Events that Defined the War in Ukraine - Modern DOCUMENTARY
Russia started its aggression against Ukraine in 2014 despite promising to respect its sovereignty in many treaties, including the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. In February 2022, Russian president Putin hoped to win an easy victory and end Ukrainian sovereignty and freedom, but his foolhardy full-scale invasion backfired. More than a year later, the war is still raging on, with tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians dead and millions displaced. But how did we reach this point? Here is a video with 15 key events that defined Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine. We had to make sure we chose events that really happened, and that we got the full picture, which is where our researchers come in. But for the average news reader that isn’t a practical option, which is why we’re glad to say that we’re sponsored today by Ground News. It’s the news
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outside the news industry bubble and you’ll never want to go back in, try Ground News today. 1. BATTLE OF KYIV When Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, Kyiv was the key target.
Capturing Kyiv would have expedited the fall of the Ukrainian government and potentially inflicted a decisive blow on the resolve of the Ukrainian army and its people to defend their country. Kyiv was arguably the crown jewel of the new Russian imperial project aiming to restore the old borders of the Soviet Union. A lot was at stake for Ukraine. All allies of Ukraine expected a quick capture of Kyiv and, in general, had low confidence in the ability of the Ukrainian army and government to withstand the Russian pressure. Remember that in February 2022, the Russian army was still considered the second strongest army in the world, its elite units and its enormous stockpile of tanks and armored vehicles were still intact. On 24 February 2022,
the Russian army moved from the city of Chornobyl, along with the Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts, Ukraine was considered doomed. Footage of ambushed and destroyed Russian tanks during its advance seemed nothing more than a consolation prize for the valiantly defending Ukrainian army. Very soon, Russian operatives started their diversions inside Kyiv, while the elite airborne units of the Russian army were fighting to take over key airfields in Hostomel and Vasylkiv in the outskirts of Kyiv to create a foothold near the capital. Within a few days, the Russian army reached Irpin, Bucha and several other towns near Kyiv. But Russian losses kept mounting as the 72nd Mechanized Brigade, territorial defense units, volunteers, National Guard units and newly arrived international volunteers proved themselves a tough nut to crack for the Russian army.
Through the combination of successful ambushes, the destruction of key bridges, which delayed the Russian units, and a fierce defense of Ukrainians, Russians were stopped. Even the infamous 40-mile-long Russian tank and armored column could not make a difference. Several times they were on the brink of breaking through into Kyiv, such as during the battle of Moshchun in mid-March, but were eventually repelled with severe losses. Russian advance in
the Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts was significant but still fell short of threatening Kyiv. The Russian advance halted, and with it, their momentum disappeared. It became clear that the Russian force dedicated to capturing Kyiv was way smaller than they would have needed. They decided to switch their focus to Donbas, where they still stand a chance of success. Thus, in early April, the Russian army withdrew from the Kyiv, Sumy and Chernihiv oblasts under the pretext of the Gesture of Good Will. To this day, the Russian propaganda claims that the Russian army could have captured Kyiv had it wanted to do so, or that Kyiv was actually never a target, but whatever they are trying to sell, and however they are trying to portray this, it does not matter. Ukraine won the battle of Kyiv and achieved arguably the biggest upset
of modern military history and took a huge step towards, at the very least, not losing this war. 2. INITIAL RUSSIAN ADVANCE, CAPTURE OF KHERSON While the end-game of the Russian invasion of Ukraine still puzzles analysts, simultaneous attacks on several axes indicated the intention of Putin. There was an assault on Kyiv through Chornobyl, Chernihiv oblast and Sumy oblast; on Kharkiv from Belgorod; on North Luhansk from Russia and the occupied portion of Donbas; on Kherson and the Zaporizhia oblasts from Crimea.
Had all of these offensives succeeded, Russia would have undoubtedly moved to occupy, at the very least, the left bank of the river Dnipro and the key city of Odesa. Perhaps more. This overly ambitious and optimistic plan fell well short of being executed as Ukraine offered a level of resistance which virtually nobody expected from them. Russia suffered heavy losses and was defeated in the Battle of Kyiv and had to leave all of northern Ukraine by April 2022.
Russia failed to capture Kharkiv. Since the expectation from the Russian army was a quick victory everywhere all at once, setbacks in Kyiv and Kharkiv overshadowed a significant advance of the Russian army in the south and the east of Ukraine. On March 2, Russia captured Kherson, the only regional center they had managed to occupy since the start of the war.
They advanced from there to the right bank of the river Dnipro, along with capturing large swathes of the Zaporizhia oblast. By May, they had completed the capture of Mariupol. A significant portion of the Kharkiv oblast was taken under Russian control. The initial Russian advance culminated in the summer when Russia finally captured Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk after months of fighting. This put all of the Luhansk oblast under Russian occupation. Russia achieved several strategic goals in the war's first 3-4 months. They created a land bridge between Russia and Crimea. They created a bridgehead on the right bank of Dnipro to threaten strategic Odesa. They ensured the blockade of key Ukrainian
ports instrumental for Ukrainian exports. But time showed us that the Russian occupation force was too small to protect its initial success. 3. WESTERN SANCTIONS As we have already pointed out on numerous occasions, virtually everyone predicted a quick victory for Russia at the start of the war. Western pundits argued that the United States and the European Union would add a few more irritating sanctions on Russia, which would fall well short of having a decisive impact on the Russian economy, similar to what happened after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The common theme of analysts
was that very soon after Russia won the war, everything would return to business as usual. But the overachievement of the Ukrainian army on the first days of the war, the refusal of president Zelensky and the Ukrainian government to give up without fighting changed the script and the narrative. Even though this seemed very unlikely, just a few days into the war, western countries decided to disconnect major Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system, which was seen as the most painful sanction to be imposed upon Russia.
Russian assets in western countries worth some 1 trillion dollars were frozen. Almost all major western corporations have stopped doing business in Russia. Import of several Russian commodities was banned, along with the export of western technologies and spare parts necessary for maintaining Russian industry. The European Union even agreed to
ban sea oil imports and impose a price cap for Russian oil and gas. Considering Europe’s long-term dependence on Russian energy exports, this was a remarkable step. Have the Western sanctions worked? If the goal was to force the Kremlin to withdraw from Ukraine immediately, this has certainly not worked. But arguably, the more realistic goal is to gradually degrade the Russian economy to the point when waging war would become unsustainable. As the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the European Parliament, “the sanctions are a slow-action poison. It takes time”. In 2022 the Russian economy shrank only by 2.2%, according to the IMF, or 4.5%, according to the World Bank. The Russian Central Bank has been
using available resources to stabilize the ruble and the Russian economy in general. Additionally, energy prices soared last year due to the unpredictability of the war, which has ironically allowed Russia to make huge profits from energy. Russia has been diverting its economy from Western markets to mostly China and India, and although this is a long process, these two countries have already been purchasing much of the Russian energy commodities. For instance, India has had a 16-fold increase in oil imports from Russia since the start of the war. However, both of these countries buy Russian energy at a considerable discount, lower than even the price cap imposed by the West.
As a result, the Russian economy has been running considerable deficits in January and February, with the budgetary revenues down by almost 30%. The Russian economy is standing for now, but as energy prices have had a downward trend and the Western countries are trying harder to eliminate loopholes in sanction regimes, it may start suffering more. It is too early to make a definitive judgment on the effectiveness of western sanctions, but in the short-term the Russian economy has surely not crumbled under the sanctions regime. 4. BATTLE OF MARIUPOL Before the invasion, Mariupol was an important industrial center of Ukraine and one of the key ports for Ukraine’s global trade. It became the target of Russian aggression in 2014, when their proxies first took control of the city before being expelled by Ukrainian forces. But when the Russian invasion was launched,
Mariupol again became the focus of the Russian army’s attention. It started being shelled on the very first day of the war. Very soon, the Russians advanced on the city, and by March, Mariupol was surrounded. The city's siege had begun, and it was under uninterrupted shelling and airstrikes. Several attempts to evacuate civilians failed as a humanitarian disaster unfolded in front of the world. On March 9, a Russian airstrike destroyed a maternity ward and a children’s hospital.
On March 16, hundreds were killed in an airstrike on the Dram Theater of Mariupol, where civilians had taken shelter. By mid-March, Russians were already making gains inside the city, with chances of the Ukrainian defenders breaking the encirclement diminishing to non-existent. Russians gradually advanced deep into the city by methodically destroying all pockets of resistance. The Ukrainian air force conducted several helicopter missions to provide military and medical supplies to besieged defenders of Mariupol, which surely boosted their morale, but in the grand scheme of things, was not nearly enough to change the situation. Ultimately, the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, a huge facility with a vast network of buildings and underground tunnels, became the sole pocket of resistance, where the Azov regiment and remaining Ukrainian defenders continued fighting. Their defiant resistance continued until May 20, when Ukrainian
soldiers had no other option but to surrender. The Azovstal resistance was not only a symbolic act of courage by the Ukrainian defenders, which won the sympathy of many worldwide. It also fixed a significant portion of the Russian occupation force in Mariupol, which could have been used in the Zaporizhia oblast or Donbas, enabling the Russian army to capture more Ukrainian territories at the time Russians were still advancing. Still, Russia captured Mariupol after months of fierce fighting, completing the important task of creating a land bridge between Russia and Crimea.
5. MOSKVA CRUISER SINKING Despite the fact that Ukraine had almost no navy and no one expected this, the Black Sea became one of the theatres of the war in Ukraine. Russia has historically strived to make the Black Sea its internal lake and enjoyed a strong presence in the Black Sea at the start of the war in Ukraine with the Soviet-made Moskva cruiser as the flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet. The Black Sea Fleet has been used for the naval blockade of Ukraine, for support of ground operations of the Russian army and for the capture of the Zmiinyi Island at the beginning of the war. As the Ukrainian navy was significantly weakened by the capture of its vessels and defections to Russia during the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, along with losing some of its vessels at the beginning of the Russian invasion, it has not posed a major problem for the Russian navy. But the 1936 Montreux Convention allowed Turkey to close the Straits in wartime, which caused a far greater problem for the Russian presence in the Black Sea during this war, as it couldn’t bring new ships to the Black sea.
On 14 April 2022, the Moskva cruiser was sunk a day after being struck by Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles. Russia did not mention Ukraine in its official statement regarding the incident stating that it occurred due to an explosion of ammunition on board. The number of casualties of the Moskva sinking is still unclear as claims range from 40 to 600. To this point, Russia has not been able to replace the Moskva with two other missile cruisers of a similar class it possesses due to the Montreux Convention. After the sinking, Russia was forced to move its Black Sea Fleet further away to about 80 nautical miles from the Ukraine-controlled territory, effectively making any landing operation against Odesa or Mykolaiv impossible. Moskva was the
Russian ship with the most advanced anti-missile and anti-air capabilities and had to defend smaller ships, so its sinking complicated the naval operations considerably. Russia also suffered reputational damage caused by the Moskva sinking. The Russian Black Sea Fleet was perceived to be safe from any threats from Ukraine, but the Ukraine-made Neptune missiles begged to differ. The Moskva cruiser had a symbolic meaning for Putin personally, as he had sailed on it on several occasions, and this incident was a huge morale boost and propaganda win for Ukraine during the toughest first several months of the war.
6. BATTLE OF SEVERODONETSK When Russia withdrew from Kyiv and North Ukraine in early April, it refocused its efforts on Donbas. By then, most of Luhansk oblast was already under the Russian occupation, but Ukraine still controlled Lysychansk, Severodonetsk and several other towns nearby. It was a Ukrainian-controlled salient which stuck like a sore thumb for Russia, and in April, they gathered some 12.5k troops and a massive artillery force to capture it. In May, Russia captured the towns of Popasna and Rubizhne,
crucial for the control of Severodonetsk. But the Russian advance was not coming easy. For instance, on May 10, the Ukrainian army destroyed at least 1 Russian Battalion Tactical Group when it tried to cross the pontoon bridge across the Siverskyi Donets river near Bilohorivka, with dozens of tanks and IFVs destroyed. Still, despite heavy losses, Russians continued making steady gains. In late May, they took the battle into Severodonetsk. Despite some successful counter-attacks of the Ukrainian army inside the city, the Russian firepower advantage was immense and decisive. On June 9, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk oblast Serhiy Haidai reported that Russia had captured 90% of Severodonetsk. The Ukrainian commander-in-Chief Zaluzhny blamed the Russian advance in this section on a “tenfold advantage” in artillery.
On June 24, the Ukrainian forces withdrew from the city, as their defensive positions were becoming untenable and the risk of encirclement growing. A few days later, Lysychansk fell too. The capture of Severodonetsk was the culmination of the Russian offensive in the second phase of the war. With this victory, the Russian army took all of the Luhansk oblast under its control, which was an important propaganda win. But they also took heavy losses in the process, something the Ukrainian army would take advantage of in just two months. Moreover, the Russian artillery
advantage in the battle of Severodonetsk prompted the United States to finally agree to Ukrainian requests to supply them with HIMARS MLRS, which helped Ukraine to turn the tide in this war. 7. HIMARS O’CLOCK; TANKS FOR UKRAINE! The Russian aggression against Ukraine began in 2014, but the west only started supplying weapons in 2018. Even as the United States and Europe were ringing alarm bells about the imminent Russian invasion, their military assistance to Kyiv remained limited. Initially, weapons provided to Ukraine were mostly defensive, such as Javelin
and NLAW portable anti-tank weapons and Stinger portable anti-aircraft weapons. The goal of these supplies was to limit the impact of the massive superiority of Russia in tanks, armoured vehicles and military aircraft. These weapons are also suitable for guerilla warfare, which is what many military commentators expected the war to evolve into.
Instead, these weapons played a key role in stalling the initial Russian advance. Ukrainians destroyed scores of Russian tanks and armored vehicles in ambushes with Javelin and NLAW, often targeting the first and the last vehicles in long Russian columns, making it very difficult for all the vehicles in between to move. Stingers destroyed several Russian military aircraft, which was the first step towards denying air superiority to Russians. But as the Russian Blietzkrig-Z failed, they switched to their usual tactic of massing artillery in their targeted sections, and shelling them into obliteration. This tactic enabled the Russian army to progress in Donbas, notably capturing Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk in the summer of 2022, which remains the last major success of the Kremlin in Ukraine as of 31st of March. This prompted the United States to supply
HIMARS MLRS with a precision-guided munition of 80 km range around the same time. HIMARS became a game-changer for the Ukrainian army. News of the destruction of Russian military bases, ammunition depots, oil depots and other military assets started flowing almost daily. Russia could not afford to use the same tactic anymore and eventually was forced to withdraw its military assets deeper into the occupied area outside HIMARS's range. This halted the Russian offensive and enabled the Ukrainian army to finally catch the momentum and liberate large swaths of land in several months. As Russia retaliated with drone and missile attacks on the critical Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, the West started supplying air defence systems to Ukraine.
But by late 2022, the Ukrainian advance stalled too. It became evident that Ukraine would need to improve the tank and armored vehicle capacity of its army to launch another counter-offensive. After months of negotiations, Western allies finally agreed to cross the self-imposed red line of not providing western-made tanks to Ukraine, as the United States pledged Abrams, the UK pledged Challenger 2, while Germany and the EU members promised Leopard 2 main battle tanks, along with dozens of other significant military deliveries. According to different estimates,
Ukraine’s allies have provided military assistance worth 40-50 billion dollars within a year since the start of the full-scale invasion, the lion's share of which belongs to the United States at around 30 billion dollars. It is impossible to understate the significance of this aid, as Western military support has enabled the Ukrainian army first to stop the Russian army and then launch its own offensives. It has given Ukraine a chance actually to win this war. Ukraine is currently discussing the delivery of fighter jets and long-range precision weapons with its western allies, who are so far reluctant to cross another self-imposed red line. But if the first year of the war has taught us anything, it is that while the West may be slow in reacting to Ukrainian needs and is proceeding with the utmost caution, it eventually delivers. 8. KHERSON COUNTER-OFFENSIVE After the capture of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk by July 2022, the frontline stabilized in Ukraine for a bit. It seemed
like the Russian assault capabilities had been diminished after months of costly battles, while Ukraine was waiting for more Western military support and an opportune moment to strike. The Ukrainian political and military leadership started telegraphing their intent to launch a counter-attack on the occupied portion of the Kherson oblast on the right bank of Dnipro. Obviously, deception is a key component of the art of war, and it was strange that Ukraine had been so open about its intentions. But their statements about Kherson prompted the Russian command to transfer some of its forces in Kharkiv oblast and Donbas to their bridgehead on the right bank of Dnipro, which may have been the Ukrainian intention all along. In July, Ukraine started using HIMARS against Russian bases, logistical lines, ammunition and fuel depots and other components of its military infrastructure on the right bank of Dnipro.
But the key target of HIMARS strikes were bridges across Dnipro, including the Antonivka bridge, which enabled Russians to transfer troops and equipment to the right bank. These HIMARS strikes severely crippled the Russian military infrastructure on the right bank putting their troops in the region in a precarious position. They also forced the Russian army to relocate some of its military infrastructure to the left bank out of range of HIMARS. The strikes continued throughout July and August, gradually weakening the Russian military strength in the area. While both Ukraine and Russia attempted several minor assaults on the right bank of Dnipro in this period, it led only to minor changes on the ground.
On August 29, a large-scale counter-offensive was finally launched by Ukraine on the right bank of Dnipro. The Ukrainian army immediately broke through the first line of defence and liberated several villages and towns. But the Ukrainian advance was initially slow and the government officials called for patience and not to expect a quick victory. Heavy fighting with slow Ukrainian progress continued in September, when Russia announced the annexation of the Kherson oblast. In early October, Ukraine achieved an important breakthrough, rapidly advancing along the bank of Dnipro for up to 30 kilometres. Ukrainian assaults were accompanied by regular HIMARS
strikes on the Russian military infrastructure and logistical lines in the area, further crippling their capacity to defend the occupied areas. On October 18, the new Russian commander in Ukraine, Sergei Surovikin, admitted that defending Kherson would be difficult. Steady, but slow Ukrainian advance continued. The Ukrainian command would have preferred the liberation of the right bank of Dnipro to be accompanied by the surrender of the formidable Russian contingent in the area but chose to progress slowly to prevent any surprises, which allowed the Russian troops to start leaving this area in early November. Finally, on November 11, the Ukrainian army entered the city of Kherson putting an end to the Russian occupation on the right bank of Dnipro. The Kherson counter-offensive is one of the most important victories of Ukraine in this war. The
anticipation of the counter-offensive forced the Russian command to relocate troops from the Kharkiv oblast, enabling the Ukrainian army to launch another counter-offensive there as well. Both of these resounding victories demonstrated to the world that Ukraine is capable of both valiantly defending itself and conducting successful offensives. This was an important morale boost for the Ukrainian army and society while demonstrating to Ukraine’s western allies that further military support would not be in vain.
9. KHARKIV COUNTER-OFFENSIVE Although Russia failed to capture Kharkiv, it occupied a significant portion of the Kharkiv oblast in the initial offensive at the start of the war. By the time the Ukrainian army stabilized the situation, important logistical hubs of the Kharkiv oblast, like Izium, Balakliya and Kupiansk, were under Russian control. Kharkiv was regularly shelled, and battles continued for months without much to show for either side. It increasingly seemed like both sides had deprioritized this front. And the Ukrainian army took advantage of this masterfully. For months the Ukrainian government and army officials, including
president Zelensky, told the world about their intention to counter-attack in the Kherson oblast. Evidently, Russia took the bait and redeployed some of its troops from the Kharkiv oblast to the right bank of Dnipro. On the eve of the Kharkiv counter-offensive, several Russian Telegram channels warned about the increased Ukrainian deployment activity on this front, but for some reason, the Russian command chose not to react and prepare in any way. Moreover, Ukrainians launched several notable HIMARS strikes on Russian military infrastructure in the occupied Kharkiv oblast in preparation for their assault. On September 6, the Ukrainian army launched
its counter-offensive, which surprised the Russian army. Unlike in Kherson, this time, they managed a quick advance by bypassing Russian positions and attacking their rear, forcing the Russian troops suffering from poor morale and being undermanned to panic and flee. On September 8, Ukrainians liberated Balakliya. Two days later, they took Izium without much fighting. Russians were being routed and leaving large amounts of military equipment. By September 13, Ukrainians liberated all the territory west of the river Oskil. Russians intended to create their new defensive line there, but Ukrainian progress continued.
On the same day, they established a bridgehead on the East bank of Oskil near Borova. 3 days later, the strategic town of Kupiansk was liberated. Almost every day, the news of the liberation of numerous towns and villages would flow. Russians struggled to establish a solid front, and the Ukrainian advance continued until October 1, when the Ukrainian army retook Lyman. The new front emerged along the Svatove-Kreminna line, which is still the case as of late March. The Kharkiv counter-offensive was a huge success for the Ukrainian army. They liberated over 500
settlements and 12k square kilometres of Ukrainian land. This devastating success forced the Kremlin to conduct an unpopular mobilization and speed up its sham referenda on occupied territories. More importantly, just like it was in the Kherson counter-offensive, the Ukrainian army proved that it is capable of attacking too.
10. ATTACK ON THE CRIMEAN BRIDGE The morning of 8 October 2022 brought astonishing news to everyone following the war in Ukraine. Despite apocalyptic warnings by the former president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev and other Russian officials, Ukraine heavily damaged the Kerch Bridge through a still unclear method.
Let’s give a little context about the importance of the Kerch Bridge. This bridge connects the Taman Peninsula of Russia with the illegally annexed Crimea. It consists of a highway and railroad, which became the key supply line connecting Russia to Crimea. Putin opened the bridge personally in 2018 to highlight its symbolic and strategic importance to Russia. It was supposed to demonstrate that Crimea is now home to Mother Russia forever. Only Ukraine had other ideas about this. The incident footage shows that a truck carrying explosives exploded on the highway bridge, simultaneously causing the explosion of 7 fuel tanks on the railway bridge. Other reputable sources claim that the blast may have
been caused by maritime drones or missile strikes. Whatever the source of the explosion on the Kerch Bridge has been, it has caused significant damage to both bridges. This has delayed the delivery of supplies to Crimea, and one has to remember that while there are other supply routes to Crimea through the occupied Donbas and Zaporizhia oblast, the Kerch Bridge is a crucial alternative, and Russia cannot afford to lose it, if it intends to keep Crimea under its control. Russia is currently conducting very active repair works on the bridge, intending to restore its full operability in July 2023. It is also worth noting that the retaliation of the Kremlin to this embarrassing and painful attack demonstrated that the only remaining tool of escalation for Russia is the nuclear weapon, the probability of use of which is extremely unlikely. Yes, Russia struck several Ukrainian cities with cruise missiles,
which was tragic to all victims of these attacks in retaliation. But Russia has been attacking Ukrainian cities throughout the war anyway, and the retaliation demonstrated that Medvedev’s regular warnings about the nuclear apocalypse should be taken with a huge grain of salt. 11. RUSSIAN MOBILIZATION In hindsight, it is now absolutely clear that the size of the Russian occupation force at the start of the war was small and inadequate to its grand ambitions of capturing almost all of Ukraine.
Evidently, the initial Russian strategy relied upon a false premise of the weakness of the Ukrainian statehood and its army, which was supposedly going to crumble in the face of the elite Russian VDV (airborne troops) and a never-ending stream of Russian tanks. The size of the Russian army sent to take over Ukraine in February was estimated to be between 150 and 200k troops. As Russia sought to capture all of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Donbas, and Odesa, while employing very poor tactics such as continuous frontal assaults and facing powerful Ukrainian resistance, they started taking heavy losses. Crypto-mobilization efforts, such as the recruitment of inmates by
the Wagner PMC and the creation of volunteer battalions by republics of the Russian Federation, have not been sufficient to change this situation radically. And as the Russian offensive momentum stalled in the summer of 2022, it became evident that Russian lines had been stretched extremely thin, with the number of soldiers nowhere near enough to hold huge swathes of occupied territory. One of the key reasons behind the Russian disaster in the Kharkiv counter-offensive was that the Russian army simply did not have enough men to defend, hence they were routed. There was news of lost territories almost every day in September 2022, and the Russian public was increasingly unhappy. This prompted Putin to use one of the last
remaining cards up his sleeves to escalate and turn the tide of the war - mobilization. He ordered a partial mobilization on 21 September 2022, despite promising not to do that on numerous occasions before that. The exact number of people to be mobilized was not reported and is still debated. The defense minister Shoigu stated that 300k reservists would be mobilized, while some claimed the number to be much higher at 1.2 million people. Russian military conscription offices conducted a chaotic execution of the mobilization order, evidenced by numerous tragicomic videos demonstrating poor accommodation and supply of the Russian mobiks. Some mobilized were sent to the battlefield almost immediately,
while others went through the training process, the effectiveness of which is difficult to assess. Although the execution of mobilization has been heavily criticized even in Russia, the sheer number of people brought to fight in Ukraine, trained or untrained, well-equipped or poorly equipped, made a difference. They bolstered Russian lines, and enabled them to create reserves, which prevented the Ukrainian army from liberating any further territory after the Kharkiv and Kherson counter-offensives. Some argue that the Kremlin will order another mobilization very soon, but there has been no confirmation of this yet. 12. RUSSIAN ATTACKS ON UKRAINIAN INFRASTRUCTURE When Ukraine managed to catch the offensive
momentum in this war in the fall of 2022, Russia made two important decisions to regain the initiative. First, they conducted mobilization to bolster the ranks of the occupation force. Second, the Kremlin decided to launch a campaign of mass strikes against the Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. Make no mistake, Russia had been striking Ukrainian cities, their civilian infrastructure, residential buildings, bridges and other objects since the start of the war. But since October 2022, Russian strikes have started being more systematic and regular. One of the main targets was the Ukrainian energy infrastructure, which aimed to cripple the Ukrainian power supply to industries and households. The idea was to hit the Ukrainian
energy infrastructure hard throughout cold months and leave ordinary Ukrainians without heating and power, which was going to supposedly make them force their government to acquiesce to Russian demands. Russians have been using Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones , cruise missiles, Iskander ballistic missiles, S-300 air defense missiles and even Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles against Ukrainian cities throughout this period. These pushed Ukraine’s western allies to finally start supplying western-made air defence systems such as Patriot, IRIS T, and NASAMS, which have helped Ukraine to mitigate this threat. But Ukraine still struggles to shoot down Kinzhal missiles, S-300 missiles, as it lacks the weapons to do that. Ukraine’s energy infrastructure was under extreme duress for several months, and at times, households would be without power for several days in a row. It has caused a few small-scale spontaneous protests.
But since February 2023, the Ukrainian government has seemingly managed to stabilize the situation. The power supply to households has become much more stable and regular. This has been possible for several reasons, such as the apparent inability of Russia to sustain the intensity of strikes on Ukrainian cities it had in October, November and December and significant support from Ukraine’s allies in supplying the country with generators, other energy supply facilities and financial help to alleviate this problem. So far, Ukraine has been able to avoid the worst and seems to have adapted to Russian missile and drone strikes to minimize their impact. 13. BATTLE OF BAKHMUT
Bakhmut is one of many cities in the densely populated industrial region of Donbas of Ukraine. Back in 2014, some clashes occurred in the city, but the Ukrainian forces quickly expelled Russian-backed troops from Bakhmut. Following their defeat in the battle of Kyiv, the Russians switched their primary focus to Donbas. After the fall of Popasna in May 2022, followed by the capture of Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk, Bakhmut became the main target of Russia in Donbas. It is important to remember the context here. Since it became clear that the Ukrainian
government would not fall and that capturing Kyiv, Odesa, and other big cities was more of a pipe dream than a realistic goal, the Kremlin changed its narrative, switching the focus from Ukraine overall to specifically Donbas. Capturing Donbas and reaching the administrative borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts became a more achievable goal that Russia started to pursue. Bakhmut is a strategically important logistics hub of Donbas, so capturing it is a must for the Russian army if they intend to move on Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, as is expected from them.
Fighting in and around Bakhmut started in August, when Russian forces advanced to the city's outskirts, gaining ground in villages and towns around Bakhmut. But the back and forth between Russian and Ukrainian armies continued until November, as sides repeatedly captured and lost the same ground. Even as Russia suffered setbacks in the Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts, Wagner and other units continued assaulting Bakhmut, but until November, the battle of Bakhmut was mostly a slow-paced trench warfare with significant Russian losses. That is when Wagner and regular Russian units went on an offensive and started to grind gradually through Ukrainian defenses. The significance of Bakhmut for Ukraine became further evident when Zelensky visited it in December amidst heavy fighting. The biggest Russian breakthrough occurred after Wagner's
occupation of the small town of Soledar in January. Since then, the Russian army has been expanding its area of control around Bakhmut. Ukraine now has only one supply line to Bakhmut left, and in March, the Ukrainians withdrew from the eastern part of Bakhmut to more advantageous defensive positions on the Zabakhmutka river. Different reports indicate that the United States has advised Ukraine to withdraw from Bakhmut completely to the next line of defense, but so far, the Ukrainian command has decided to stay put and fight. As of late March, Bakhmut holds. 14. BUCHA MASSACRE Bucha is a small town near Kyiv. Before
the war in Ukraine, most people outside of Ukraine probably did not know about the existence of this inconspicuous town. We first heard about this town, when Russia assaulted it at the start of the war. Then we read about a humanitarian catastrophe in Bucha, as sides fought fiercely for control. Ukrainian media started reporting about Russian soldiers' indiscriminate killing of civilians in Bucha. On March 9, the Ukrainian government evacuated 20k residents from Bucha amidst heavy fighting. Rumors and reports of atrocities continued circulating, but the scale of the tragedy inflicted on Bucha by the Russian army became apparent only as the 64th Separate Motorized Brigade, the 76th Guards Air Assault Brigade, and other units withdrew from the town and the Ukrainian forces moved in. According to the Ukrainian government, 458 civilians were killed in Bucha, while the UN confirmed the killing of 73 civilians and investigated 105 cases. Civilians were killed indiscriminately. Some of them were killed in
their homes during door-to-door raids. Apparently, others were killed on the streets while they were minding their own business and going on with their daily routines. There were signs of torture, mutilation, and rape on some bodies. Russians tried to hide traces of their atrocities by burning bodies and digging mass graves. Of course, Russia denied its responsibility and
claimed that this was fake news spread by enemies of Russia and that everything was orchestrated in order to blame the Russian army. But international human rights organizations, prominent media outlets, and satellite footage all pointed at the Russian army as the perpetrator. Similar atrocities have been revealed in other temporarily occupied towns like Izium and Trostyanets too. The Bucha massacre was shocking in itself, by being such an unspeakable tragedy, but it was not shocking in terms of the history of the atrocities committed by the Russian army.
15. GRAIN DEAL Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, food prices were hitting record highs on the market due to the pandemic-caused disruption of supply lines and a hike in energy prices. But the war in Ukraine could have turned it into a full-scale crisis with potentially disastrous consequences in the poorest parts of the world. At the start of the war, Ukraine had 10% of global wheat exports, along with being the world's largest exporter of sunflower oil and one of the largest exporters of corn. Russia and Ukraine combined had 27% of global wheat export and 53% of sunflower and seed exports. Many African countries imported a significant portion of their wheat from Russia and
Ukraine, with 15 of those countries having more than half of their imports from the warring sides. Since Russia blockaded Ukraine's maritime trade routes, Ukraine could not export its wheat to global markets. The matter was further complicated as Ukraine placed naval mines on its shores to prevent Russian assault from the sea. Along with that, in response to the Western sanctions, Russia decided to stop exporting fertilizers to global markets.
In April 2022, the UN and Turkey started mediating between sides to avoid a global food crisis. Negotiations continued for almost 3 months when on July 22, the warring sides finally signed the Grain Deal. Russia and Ukraine did not sign any agreement with each other, instead choosing to sign separate mirror agreements with the UN and Turkey. The deal envisaged the safe export of
wheat and fertilizers from Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhne through a special corridor in the Black Sea. Turkey assumed the responsibility of inspecting all vessels carrying relevant produce. The agreement was signed for 4 months, but since then, it has been renewed several times, most recently on 18 March 2023. At one point on 29 October 2022, Russia suspended its participation in response to Ukraine’s attack on the port of Sevastopol, occupied by Russia. But Russia’s refusal to participate was basically ignored, as Ukraine continued exporting its products with the UN's and Turkey's approval. 4 days later, Russia confirmed the resumption of its participation in the grain deal claiming that Ukraine agreed not to use the special corridor for military needs. Ukraine refuted this claim stating that no further guarantees were provided to Russia, as Ukraine does not intend to use the corridor for military uses anyway. While the Grain Deal was
later criticized by Russia under the pretext that the majority of the Ukrainian export ended up in Western countries, it was still a major positive step for stabilizing the global food market. Unfortunately, the war rages on, so we will continue this series. If you don’t want to miss any episodes, make sure you are subscribed and have pressed the bell button to see them. Please, consider liking, subscribing, commenting, and sharing - it helps immensely. Recently we
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