1 year on: A timeline of the war in Ukraine

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Stefan Ellerbeck, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • On the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we look back at the key events of the past 12 months.
  • These include military developments, as well as the economic and human crisis that the conflict has caused.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for greater support for his country during live addresses at two World Economic Forum Annual Meetings in Davos.

On the first anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering his armies to invade Ukraine, his forces remain locked in a bloody war of attrition.

Towns and cities have been devastated. Tens of thousands of civilians and fighters on both sides have been killed and injured. Millions of people have either fled the country or been internally displaced.

As the conflict which shook the world marks its first anniversary, here’s a timeline of the key events fo far:

February 2022

On 24 February, Putin launches what he describes as a “special military operation”, ordering tens of thousands of Russian troops into neighbouring Ukraine from the north, east and south. Hoping for a swift victory, Russian forces move on the capital Kyiv but are eventually forced to retreat.

Neighbouring countries and the EU prepare to open their borders to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the conflict. Queues at border crossings stretch for several kilometres, although men of conscription age are prevented from leaving the country.

Western nations impose a widespread package of sanctions on Moscow, in response to the invasion. These include stopping transactions with Russia’s central bank, banning new investment and freezing the assets of Russian political and business leaders.

March 2022

At least 441 Ukrainian civilians are killed in the early days of the invasion. UN investigators subsequently say some of the killings, most notoriously in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, may amount to war crimes.

Russia is forced to scale back its war goals following stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces. It switches focus to the Donbas region where Moscow-backed separatists launched a rebellion in 2014.

The conflict escalates the global food crisis and Ukraine’s government announces a ban on a wide range of agricultural exports. World food prices reach a record high in March.

A graph showing the FAO food price index and the changes in prices from 2019 to 2022.

Global food prices hit a record high in March 2022. Image: FAO.


What is the World Economic Forum doing to help ensure global food security?

Two billion people in the world currently suffer from malnutrition and according to some estimates, we need 60% more food to feed the global population by 2050. Yet the agricultural sector is ill-equipped to meet this demand: 700 million of its workers currently live in poverty, and it is already responsible for 70% of the world’s water consumption and 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

New technologies could help our food systems become more sustainable and efficient, but unfortunately the agricultural sector has fallen behind other sectors in terms of technology adoption.

Launched in 2018, the Forum’s Innovation with a Purpose Platform is a large-scale partnership that facilitates the adoption of new technologies and other innovations to transform the way we produce, distribute and consume our food.

With research, increasing investments in new agriculture technologies and the integration of local and regional initiatives aimed at enhancing food security, the platform is working with over 50 partner institutions and 1,000 leaders around the world to leverage emerging technologies to make our food systems more sustainable, inclusive and efficient.

Learn more about Innovation with a Purpose’s impact and contact us to see how you can get involved.

April 2022

Dozens of people are killed in a missile strike on a train station in Kramatorsk. It was full of women, children and elderly people trying to flee the fighting.

“Lacking the strength and courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.

Later in the month Russia suffers a symbolic blow when the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, is sunk by what Ukraine claims to be its missiles.

The number of people fleeing Ukraine passes the five million mark according to the UN. Its refugee agency says the conflict has caused the largest refugee crisis in Europe this century.

May 2022

Finland and Sweden formally apply to join NATO, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This is a historic moment which we must seize,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says at a ceremony at NATO headquarters with the Finnish and Swedish ambassadors.

Russia captures the strategic Black Sea port city of Mariupol, following a three-month siege the Red Cross described as “hell”.

President Zelenskyy delivers a special address on the opening morning of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. He calls on countries to help set up a fund to rebuild his country: “We call on everyone to join this platform,” he says.

June 2022

Russian missiles strike a crowded shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk, killing at least 16 people. A UN spokesman condemns the attack as “deplorable”.

The World Bank approves $1.49 billion in additional financing to help pay the wages of public sector workers. This increases the bank’s total pledged support, aided by donor countries, to more than $4 billion.

Russia says that the European Union’s decision to partially phase out Russian oil was likely to destabilize global energy markets, calling it a ‘self-destructive’ step. EU leaders agreed in principle to cut 90% of oil imports from Russia by the end of the year.

July 2022

Russian forces capture the city of Lysychansk completing the conquest of Luhansk province in Eastern Ukraine.

Russian energy giant Gazprom says it will halve gas supplies to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Prior to the war, Europe imported more than 40% of its gas from Russia.

Moscow and Kyiv agree a deal to re-open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports which had been blockaded by the Russian navy. There are hopes that the breakthrough will ease the global food crisis.

August 2022

Ukrainian forces launch a southern counter-offensive around Kherson, the only land gateway to Crimea. Russian supply lines, ammunition dumps and an air base in Crimea are targeted.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the risk of nuclear confrontation had returned after decades. He calls the Russian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia facility in Ukraine “suicidal”.

September 2022

European gas prices spike by as much as 30% after Russia says one of its main gas supply pipelines to Europe will remain closed indefinitely. Gazprom had initially said the Nord Stream 1 pipeline had been closed for temporary maintenance work.

Ukraine launches a counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region in the north-east. A key rail hub supplying the Russian frontline is recaptured.

Vladimir Putin orders the partial mobilization of hundreds of thousands of reservists. His decree sparks an exodus of military-age men trying to cross the border into neighbouring countries.

Putin says regions of eastern Ukraine will become part of Russia following local ‘referendums’.

“Any decision to proceed with the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine would have no legal value and deserves to be condemned,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells reporters.

October 2022

An explosion badly damages the only bridge linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014. Days later, Russia retaliates with the first missile strikes on Kyiv in months.

In the following days, Ukrainian energy infrastructure is targeted in more waves of missile strikes. The country’s energy minister says at least half of the country’s thermal energy capacity has been hit.

An additional four million children have been plunged into poverty because of the war, according to a UNICEF report – 2.8 million of them are Russian, the UN agency says.

November 2022

Russia orders its forces to abandon Kherson, the only regional capital it had captured so far. The Kherson region was one of four that Putin had said would be part of Russia “forever”.

The EU looks at ways to increase help for Ukraine’s energy sector following “cruel and inhumane” attacks that have caused widespread power cuts.

“Russia’s bombing of (Ukraine’s) infrastructure is clearly a tactic to increase human suffering,” EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson says.

External power is restored to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant two days after it was disconnected from the power grid following Russian shelling which damaged high voltage lines. The International Atomic Energy Agency says a protection zone should be placed around the plant “before it’s too late”.


What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?

Moving to clean energy is key to combating climate change, yet in the past five years, the energy transition has stagnated.

Energy consumption and production contribute to two-thirds of global emissions, and 81% of the global energy system is still based on fossil fuels, the same percentage as 30 years ago. Plus, improvements in the energy intensity of the global economy (the amount of energy used per unit of economic activity) are slowing. In 2018 energy intensity improved by 1.2%, the slowest rate since 2010.

Effective policies, private-sector action and public-private cooperation are needed to create a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure global energy system.

Benchmarking progress is essential to a successful transition. The World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which ranks 115 economies on how well they balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability, shows that the biggest challenge facing energy transition is the lack of readiness among the world’s largest emitters, including US, China, India and Russia. The 10 countries that score the highest in terms of readiness account for only 2.6% of global annual emissions.

To future-proof the global energy system, the Forum’s Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials Platform is working on initiatives including, Systemic Efficiency, Innovation and Clean Energy and the Global Battery Alliance to encourage and enable innovative energy investments, technologies and solutions.

Additionally, the Mission Possible Platform (MPP) is working to assemble public and private partners to further the industry transition to set heavy industry and mobility sectors on the pathway towards net-zero emissions. MPP is an initiative created by the World Economic Forum and the Energy Transitions Commission.

Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum? Find out more here.

December 2022

President Zelenskyy addresses the US Congress during his first foreign visit since the war broke out. He says aid to Ukraine is an investment in democracy.

On Christmas Day, Vladimir Putin says Russia is ready to negotiate over Ukraine. However, Kyiv says Moscow isn’t serious about talks and says it will not rest until every Russian soldier is removed from its territory.

The European Central Bank says it expects inflation to remain above its 2% target for the next three years. Several factors, including the war in Ukraine, caused inflation to spike at 10.6% in October across the 19 countries that use the euro.

January 2023

Reinforced by recruits, Russian forces make their first battlefield gains in months, capturing the salt-mining town of Soledar in eastern Donetsk province. They also focus attention on the strategic town of Bakhmut, key to the prized Donbas region.

The Food and Agriculture Organization says its food price index reached a record high in 2022, up by 14.3% from 2021. Food prices surged after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. The World Bank also warns that the global economy could slip into recession in 2023.

“The world overcame apartheid, the pandemic, the financial crisis … Now the world is fighting Putin. The world will overcome again,” President Zelenskyy tells world leaders during a live address to the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.


February 2023

President Zelenskyy says Russian offensives in the east and south are part of a strategy to make gains before Kyiv receives tanks and other heavy weaponry from its allies. NATO also begins discussing its request for fighter jets and long-range missiles.

Western countries look at imposing a new raft of sanctions against Russia to tie in with the first anniversary of the war. US officials say they are looking at sanctioning more banks with links to Moscow and stepping up enforcement of existing rules.

Experts estimate lost European sales could halve the export revenues of Russian energy giant Gazprom in 2023. Its revenues from overseas sales may have declined in January to $3.4 billion from $6.3 billion in the year-earlier period.

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