On February 15, 2022, Vladimir Putin said he didn’t want war. At that time, Chancellor Olaf Scholz was a guest in the Kremlin, and the heads of state sat across from each other at an absurdly long table. The Russian President had previously asked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to the same board and made similar statements. Less than two weeks later, the words are meaningless: Russian troops, who had been massing at the border for weeks, are invading neighboring Ukraine.
The Kremlin calls the attack “a special military operation” and the demilitarization and “denazification” of the neighboring country as goals. He recognizes the two regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which are part of Ukraine, as independent states and also sends soldiers to the separatist regions.
The West sees a clear violation of international law and reacts with harsh economic sanctions – which Putin initially counters by putting his nuclear deterrent on standby.
Initially, the invaders seemed to be advancing quickly, and many observers reckoned that the militarily inferior Ukraine would last a few days at most, and that the invasion would be as smooth for Putin as the annexation of Crimea in 2014. But this time things are different: the Ukrainian armed forces are fighting back with all your strength and passion. Many units are trained according to NATO standards and, thanks to increasing arms deliveries from NATO countries, have modern war equipment at their disposal. The Russians, on the other hand, are struggling with supply and replenishment problems, and many of the weapons and vehicles used are outdated. The first setbacks come quickly.
Counter-offensive of Ukraine with successes
In April Ukraine succeeds in sinking the Russian flagship “Moskva” in the Black Sea, in the same month Russian troops withdraw from Kiev and northern Ukraine. After the withdrawal, a discovered massacre of civilians in Bucha near Kiev caused worldwide horror.
From then on, Moscow focused on conquering areas to the east on its border and to the south in order to establish a land connection with Crimea. Ukraine can recapture some areas there too. Trench warfare developed in the east over the summer without any major gains in territory for either side.
At the end of August, the Ukraine launched a larger-scale counter-offensive in the areas near Kharkiv and Cherson and was able to record massive gains in territory. The Russian Ministry of Defense also admits losses. In the middle of the month, President Volodymyr Zelenskyj reported that thousands of square kilometers of occupied territory could be reconquered. Despite the losses, Putin proclaimed the annexation of large parts of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson oblasts into the Russian Federation at the end of September. Before that, he had sham referendums held in the occupied territories.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainians also succeed in recapturing the city of Cherson. This means that the area on the north bank of the Dnipro River is back under Ukrainian control. In the wake of the losses, Russian attackers are increasingly turning to attacking targets across Ukraine with missiles and drones. Critical civilian infrastructure, such as power plants, is particularly in the crosshairs. The consequences are large-scale failures in the electricity, heating and water networks in Kiev, Odessa and other regions.
In January, Russia can report the capture of a Ukrainian city for the first time in months. Earlier, the armed forces and the Wagner mercenary force had taken the small town of Soledar – and were, it seemed, at odds over who should now own this psychologically important victory. As a result, trench warfare broke out around neighboring Bachmut. This lasted for months, as did the Russian rocket fire in Kiev. Otherwise, the Russian offensive in the winter hardly changes the Eastern Front.
Sources: Agencies DPA and AFP,
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.