Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Feb. 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion into Ukraine, saying the “special military operation” is aimed at “demilitarization” and “denazification” of the country to protect ethnic Russians, prevent Kyiv’s NATO membership, and to keep it in Russia’s “sphere of influence.” Western nations pushed back, saying that it was an illegal act of agrression against a sovereign nation.
Here are some of the most notable events over the past year related to the invasion.
March 2022: Russia accused of bombing a children’s hospital
A few weeks after the invasion, the Russians proposed a 12-hour ceasefire to provide evacuation corridors from select cities such as Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mariupol. But during that period, Russian forces reportedly bombed a maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol that killed three people, including one child. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the bombing was “proof of a genocide.”
March 2022: Governments and corporations impose sanctions on Russia
In March, President Joe Biden announced a U.S. ban on imports of oil, natural gas, and coal from Russia. (U.S. imports from Russia account for only 8% of America’s energy, of which only about 3% was crude oil.) The European Union also cut gas imports from Russia by two-thirds, and the United Kingdom said it would phase out “the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.”
The U.K. has also frozen the assets of seven Russian oligarchs, including one that owns an English soccer team. Additionally, the U.K. has made it a criminal offense for Russian aircraft to enter British airspace. A number of international companies also imposed voluntary sanctions. The list of companies includes Apple, Disney, Ford, MasterCard, McDonalds, and Visa. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo announced they would be pulling some products from the country.
April 2022: Russian troops kill hundreds of civilians in “cleansing” operation
After Russian troops retreated from Kyiv, the bodies of hundreds of civilians were found on the streets of the town of Bucha and in mass graves. News agencies discovered that in an attempt to neutralize resistance and terrorize locals into submission, the Russian military had ordered “zachistka”— cleansing. “The results of the criminal evidence we’ve gathered so far reveal that it wasn’t just isolated incidents of military personnel making a mistake but a systematic policy targeting the Ukrainian people,” said Taras Semkiv, Ukraine’s lead prosecutor for these war crimes.
June 2022: Claims of torture in Russian-occupied territories
By June, the BBC had documented numerous allegations of civilians being tortured by Russians in the region of Kherson. The claims included acts of rape, electrocution, beatings, strangulation, and burning—including on people’s hands, feet, and genitals. A doctor who claims to have treated such injuries says, “They were tortured if they did not want to go over to the Russian side, for being at rallies, for being in the territorial defence, for the fact that one of the family members fought against the separatists, some got there randomly.” Within the first four months of the war, Ukraine claimed that around 15,000 suspected war crimes had been reported, with 200 to 300 more reported daily.
June 2002: SBC messengers adopt resolution on the war in Ukraine
At the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California, SBC messengers voted to adopt a resolution strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation in her declaration and acts of war against the sovereign nation of Ukraine. The resolution also called upon Putin to cease hostilities immediately, withdraw the Russian military, and end this war of aggression against Ukraine and her people. The messengers also noted that the SBC stands in “solidarity with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in Christ as well as the people of Ukraine who have endured these atrocities and who have witnessed the horrors of war firsthand while seeking to defend their country from an invasion by a hostile army.”
September 2002: Ukraine retakes much of the northeastern region; Putin calls up reservists
In September, Ukrainian forces launched a surprise counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region which forced Russian troops to pull back from areas that had been seized for months. In response, Putin ordered the mobilization of 300,000 reservists. The move was unpopular within Russia and led hundreds of thousands of Russian men to flee to neighboring countries to avoid recruitment.
December 2022: Ukrainian President Zelensky addresses a joint meeting of Congress
In his first visit outside of Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, Zelensky visited Washington, D.C., to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. In the speech—given two days before Christmas—Zelensky said:
We’ll celebrate Christmas, celebrate Christmas and even if there is no electricity, the light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out. If Russian – if Russian missiles attack us, we’ll do our best to protect ourselves. If they attack us with Iranian drones and our people will have to go to bomb shelters on Christmas Eve, Ukrainians will still sit down at the holiday table and cheer up each other. And we don’t, don’t have to know everyone’s wish as we know that all of us, millions of Ukrainians, wish the same: Victory. only victory.
February 2023: U.N. says 8,000 non-combatants killed and 8 million people have fled Ukraine
The UN human rights office (OHCHR) reports that at least 8,000 non-combatants have been confirmed killed and nearly 13,300 injured since the Russian invasion. But the true number is likely to be substantially higher, OHCHR staff have said. More than 100 cases of conflict-related sexual violence had been documented thus far.
Additionally, more than 8 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Poland has seen the largest numbers of Ukrainian refugees (around 1.5 million), followed by other European countries like the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia.
February 2023: President Biden visits Kyiv
Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Feb. 20. In meeting with the Ukrainian president, Biden showed that the U.S. was in solidarity with our Ukrainian allies. The U.S. president announced a half-billion dollars in new assistance, including a variety of military equipment, and the imposition of new sanctions on Russia. “One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” said Biden.