Key moments of the war in Ukraine

Two years ago, the world saw Russian tanks rolling through the outskirts of Kiev and rockets flying into the Ukrainian capital. Contrary to initial predictions, Kiev never fell, but the country remains embroiled in war. The front line lies in the southeastern region of the state. The contested areas are mainly focused on Donbas and port cities around the Black Sea.

Below is the history of Ukraine since the declaration of its independence

December 1, 1991: Ukraine declares independence

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine voted for independence, with strong popular support.

December 5, 1994: Budapest Memorandum

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurance was signed in 1994, following Ukraine's agreement to transfer nuclear weapons to the Russian Federation. The document, signed by the US, UK and Russia, recognizes Ukraine's sovereignty and its rights over the territory.

November - December 2004: The Orange Revolution

The presidential election between Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych, supported by Russia, created controversy. Yushchenko was poisoned before the election and the victory was given to Yanukovych, which was seen as a fraud. Ukrainians came out in protest dressed in orange, which was Yushchenko's campaign color. Re-voting in December resulted in Yushchenko's victory.

April 3, 2008: Russia opposes Ukraine's NATO membership

In April 2008, the NATO Summit began the debate on the Membership Action Plan (MAP) of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin opposed membership, telling former US President George W. Bush that "Ukraine is not a real state." NATO did not provide the roadmap to Ukraine.

November 2013 – February 2014: Sudden changes in government

After promising to work towards relations with the European Union, former president Yanukovych, who won the election in 2010, changed political direction towards Russia, which sparked protests against government corruption across the country, focused on Maidan Square in Kiev. The protest left 150 people dead. Yanukovych fled to Russia. The new leadership pledged a European orientation.

February 2014 – March 2014: Russia annexes Crimea

Russian troops annexed the main points of the Crimean peninsula. This caused national outrage and condemnation from the UN and the EU.

April 21, 2019: Zelenskyy is elected president of Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a former comedian, defeated candidate Petro Poroshenko to become president. Zelenskyyt's party also won the majority of seats in parliament. His campaign promised to stop the war with Russian-backed separatists and remove corruption from the Ukrainian government.

December 2021: Putin asks for guarantees

In early 2021, Zelenskyy cracked down on pro-Russian oligarchs, including Viktor Medvedchuk, a close friend of Putin. As a result, Putin sent large numbers of troops to the border near Ukraine in December and made demands on NATO and the US. One of the demands was that Ukraine should not join NATO. It was rejected by the Biden administration.

February 21, 2022: Russia recognizes Luhansk and Donetsk as states

In 2014, the Donetsk and Luhansk regions distanced themselves from Ukraine. They were led by what were considered Russian-backed terrorists. Putin recognized them as independent states and sent troops "to keep the peace".

February 24, 2022: Russia begins full invasion of Ukraine

The Russian occupation began in the eastern territory of Ukraine, Donbas. Zelenskyy imposed martial law and officially severed diplomatic relations with Russia. Putin's actions were condemned around the world and within Russia.

September 11, 2022: Ukraine regains territories

A few months after Russia's entry, Ukrainian forces pushed it back, retaking about 2500 square kilometers of territory, angering Putin. As a result, Russian forces attacked Ukrainian infrastructure, leaving many people without electricity and water.

September 21, 2022: Putin invites reservists

Putin announced in a speech that he would mobilize 300 additional troops to retake the lost territory. The decision was controversial, with reports that elderly men had been recruited. As a result, many young Russians left the country, many of them never to return.

October 5, 2022: Russia annexes four Ukrainian regions

Putin signed the decision to annex four regions of Ukraine - Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. In response, the US and its allies slapped financial sanctions on more than 1,000 Russian people and companies.

October 8, 2022: The Crimean bridge explodes

Russia's bridge to Crimea was destroyed by an explosion in October. Russia called it a "terrorist attack" and blamed Ukraine's military intelligence chief. Russia later retaliated by attacking Ukraine with missiles and drones, targeting civilian areas.

December 21, 2022: Zelenskyy visits the White House

of Ukraine surprised US President Joe Biden with a visit in December 2022. The Biden administration had just announced two billion dollars in military aid to Ukraine, including missile systems, ballistic missiles and aircraft to develop Ukraine's air defenses.

January 25, 2023: Germany and the US donate tanks to Ukraine

A year into the war, the US and Germany announced they would donate tanks to help Ukraine defend against Russian forces. It was a big step, especially for Germany, which until then had hesitated to offer tanks to Ukraine.

February 2023: Russia plans new offensive

Western officials said in February 2023 that Russia was preparing a new offensive in Ukraine. Experts from the Institute "Study of War" cited the training and mobilization of thousands of Russian troops and the acceleration of the pace of Moscow's operations in Western Luhansk.

February 20, 2023: Biden's surprise visit to Kiev

Joe Biden traveled to Ukraine, a shocking move days before the first anniversary of the start of the Russian invasion. Biden spent hours in Kiev, side by side with Zelensky. Biden announced an additional $500 million in aid for Ukraine to defend itself from Russia.

June 23, 2023: "Wagneri" rebels

Hundreds of Russian mercenaries of the "Wagner" group, a paramilitary organization, mobilized away from fighting positions in Ukraine and began marching towards Moscow in an attempted coup. This sparked panic in Russia as the biggest challenge to President Putin. The group's leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, criticized the leadership of the Russian military and urged members of the armed forces to join his cause. Putin warned the soldiers "not to make a fatal mistake".

June 24, 2023: Wagner's coup attempt ends

The "Wagner" group stopped the march towards Moscow a day after the beginning of this movement. Prigozhin declared that the group had achieved its goal of capturing the Kremlin's attention and was returning to the front lines. Two months later, Prigozhin was reported killed in a suspicious plane crash.

February 8, 2024: Zelenskyy changes general

Amid shortages of ammunition and personnel, Zelenskyy on February 8, 2024 replaced Major General Valerii Zaluzhnyi because "a change in approach and strategy" was needed in the war against Russia.

February 13, 2024: Additional US aid uncertain

Additional aid to Ukraine is blocked in the US Congress after Republicans voiced their opposition to supporting it financially. Biden warned that rejecting the aid package is surrendering to Putin and that stopping US aid would harm prospects for winning the war.