Ukraine: Russian invasion of Ukraine enters fourth month

Russia heads into the fourth month of its invasion of Ukraine on Tuesday with no end in sight to the fighting that has killed thousands, uprooted millions and reduced cities to rubble.
After abandoning its assault on the capital kyiv, Russia continues to press in the east and south in the face of mounting sanctions and a fierce Ukrainian counteroffensive bolstered by Western weapons.
Some key events in the conflict so far:
* February 24: Russia invades Ukraine from three fronts in the largest assault on a European state since World War II. Tens of thousands flee.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is launching a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweets: “Russia has embarked on the path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself.”
* February 25: Ukrainian forces fight Russian invaders in the north, east and south. The artillery hits kyiv and its suburbs and authorities.
* March 1 – A US official says a miles-long Russian armored column headed for kyiv is bogged down by logistical problems.
* Russia attacks a television tower in kyiv and intensifies its long-distance bombardment of Kharkiv in the northeast and other cities, in what is seen as a change in tactics by Moscow as its hopes of a quick charge on the capital.
* March 2 – Russian forces begin a siege of the southeastern port of Mariupol, considered vital to Russian attempts to link the eastern Donbas region with Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow seized in 2014.
* Russian troops reach the center of the Black Sea port of Kherson, the first major urban center captured.
* One million people have fled Ukraine, says the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
* March 4: Russian forces seize the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe. NATO rejects Ukraine’s call for no-fly zones, saying they would escalate the conflict.
* March 8: Civilians flee the northeastern city of Sumy in the first successful agreed humanitarian corridor. Two million have already fled Ukraine, says UNHCR. * March 9: Ukraine accuses Russia of bombing a maternity hospital in Mariupol, burying people under the rubble. Russia says Ukrainian fighters were occupying the building.
* March 13 – Russia extends its war into western Ukraine, firing missiles at a base in Yavoriv, ​​near the border with NATO member Poland.
* March 16: Ukraine accuses Russia of bombing a Mariupol theater where hundreds of civilians are sheltering. Moscow denies it.
* March 25 – Moscow signals it is scaling back its ambitions and will focus on making gains in the east, and Ukrainian forces go on the offensive to recapture cities outside of kyiv.
* March 30: More than 4 million people have fled Ukraine, says UNHCR.
* April 3/4: Ukraine accuses Russia of war crimes after a mass grave and bodies of people shot at close range are found in the recaptured town of Bucha. The Kremlin denies responsibility and says the images of the bodies were staged.
* April 8 – Ukraine blames Russia for a missile attack on a train station in Kramatorsk that killed at least 52 people trying to flee a looming eastern offensive. Russia denies responsibility.
* April 14: Russia’s main warship in the Black Sea, the Moskva, sinks after what Ukraine says was a missile attack. Russia blames an ammunition explosion. * April 18: Russia launches its eastern assault, unleashing thousands of troops in what Ukraine describes as the Battle of Donbas, a campaign to seize two provinces and salvage a battlefield victory. * April 21: Putin declares Mariupol “liberated” after nearly two months of siege. But hundreds of defenders are holding out inside the city’s massive Azovstal steelworks.
* April 25/26: Moldova’s pro-Russian breakaway region of Transniestria says blasts hit a ministry and two radio masts. Blame neighboring Ukraine. kyiv accuses Moscow of organizing the attacks to try to widen the conflict.
* April 28: Russia fires two missiles at kyiv during a visit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Ukraine says. The Kremlin accuses Ukraine of attacking Russian regions near the border. Two explosions are heard in the Russian city of Belgorod.
* May 1: About 100 Ukrainian civilians are evacuated from Mariupol’s dilapidated Azovstal steelworks, in what the United Nations calls an “operation of safe passage.”
* May 7: Some 60 people are feared dead after a bomb hit a village school in Bilohorivka, eastern Ukraine, the regional governor says.
* May 9: Putin urges Russians to fight back in defiant Victory Day speech, but remains silent on plans for any escalation in Ukraine.
* May 10 – Ukraine says its forces have recaptured Russian villages north and northeast of Kharkiv, pressing a counteroffensive that could signal a shift in the war’s momentum and jeopardize Russia’s main advance. * May 12: More than 6 million people have fled Ukraine, says UNHCR.
* May 13 – A Ukrainian army video appears to show Ukrainian forces destroying parts of a Russian armored column as it tries to cross the Siverskyi Donets River in the eastern Donbas region. Reuters cannot verify the images.
* May 14: Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive near the eastern Russian city of Izium, the local governor says.
* May 18: Finland and Sweden formally request to join the NATO alliance, a move that would spark the expansion of the Western military alliance that Putin sought to prevent.
* May 20: Ukrainian fighters holding out at Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks surrender to Russian forces over a period of several days. On May 20, Russia says that the last Ukrainian forces have surrendered. Hours earlier, Zelenskiy said the Ukrainian military had told defenders they could get out and save their lives.

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