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100 days of war in Ukraine: A timeline

Ukraine maintains resistance after 100 days of war
Ukraine maintains resistance after 100 days of war 02:13

Friday marks the 100th day since Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine intent on taking over the country quickly and overthrowing democratically elected President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a puppet government loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin. As the war has grown longer and costlier than the Kremlin expected, the Russians have pursued smaller and smaller goals. 

After failing to take Kyiv, the Russian forces have zeroed in on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting since 2014. The Ukrainians, with the help of Western allies, have held off Russia over the past 100 days, but it remains to be seen how many more days the fight will continue. 

Here is a timeline of some of the key events in the past 100 days of the invasion: 

Feb. 19-23 

Russian forces "uncoiling"

After weeks of warning a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent, the Biden administration assessed Putin had made the decision to invade. While traveling in Lithuania, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Russian forces were "uncoiling and now poised to strike."

Feb. 24 

Invasion starts 

Early in the morning on February 24, Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The invasion started with about 100 missiles fired from both land- and sea-based platforms, and then with ground incursions on three main axes of assault: in the north, from Belarus down towards Kyiv; in the east, from western Russia down towards Kharkiv; and in the south, from Crimea up to Kherson.

The U.S. intelligence assessment was that Russia planned to install a puppet government in Kyiv.  

Feb. 25 to 27

Ukrainian Resistance 

From the start of the invasion, Russians faced greater resistance from Ukrainians than they had anticipated and suffered  logistical setbacks. For instance, already, the Pentagon assessed the Russians were having to expend more fuel than they had planned for in the north. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy started posting social media video addresses from the capital asking for help from the international community. He reportedly turned down another nation's offer to evacuate him from Kyiv by saying, "I need more ammunition, not a ride." 

Feb. 28 - March 24 

Stalled in the North 

About a week into the war, the Pentagon characterized the Russian advance in the north around Kyiv, Chernhiv and Kharkiv as "stalled." The Russians never made it closer than about 15 kilometers from Kyiv and stayed at this distance until retreating to focus on the Donbas.   

In the south, Russia made more progress because its supply lines ran from Crimea, where they've had a presence since 2014. The Russians conducted the only amphibious assault of the invasion so far early on, putting troops from the Sea of Azov near the town of Berdyansk. The Russians captured Berdyansk in March as they worked towards the strategic city of Mariupol. 

March 25 

Russian repositioning 

On March 25, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced it would focus on "fully liberating" the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Russian battalion tactical groups began to pull out of Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy back into Russia to be refitted and resupplied for the fight in the Donbas.

April 1

Bucha Massacre 

As the Russians withdrew from around Kyiv, evidence of brutal atrocities started to emerge. In the town of Bucha, Ukrainian officials said the Russians cruelly killed an estimated dozens of civilians, many of whom were shot in the head while their wrists were tied behind their back. Ukrainian officials also said several mass graves were discovered in Bucha after the Russian retreat. The graves combined with the images of murdered corpses lining the streets in Bucha horrified the international community and prompted Biden again to call Putin "a war criminal." 

April 9

Gen. Dvornikov  

Seven weeks into the invasion, Putin appointed General Alexander Dvornikov to lead the invasion in what was seen by many as an attempt to fix all the screwups at the front. Before his appointment, Russia did not have an overall commander-in-charge of the invasion. Dvornikov was nicknamed the "butcher of Syria" because of his disregard for civilian harm while in charge of Russian forces in Syria. It's unclear what effect he has had on the campaign in Ukraine so far. 

The head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, estimated in Senate testimony in May that between 8 and 10 Russian generals had been killed in Ukraine so far.

April 13  

Heavier security assistance 

As the Russians began to prioritize the Donbas, the U.S. and other countries shifted the type of assistance to Ukraine in preparation for a long slog of a fight in the Donbas. 

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  told a Senate panel in early April that "The fight down in the southeast, the terrain is different than it is in the north. It is much more open and -- and lends itself to armored mechanized offensive operations on both sides." 

On April 13, the Biden administration committed to sending M777 Howitzers to Ukraine, the heaviest piece of weaponry the U.S. had committed up until this point. In addition to the weapons, the U.S. began training Ukrainians on the Howitzers in locations outside of Ukraine. The training was another step beyond what the administration had done previously. Since then, the U.S. has continued to provide heavier equipment and more training for the Ukrainians.    

April 14 

Sinking of the Moskva 

On April 14, the Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, sank. The Ukrainians had struck it the day before with two Neptune anti-ship missiles. The ship initially battled a huge fire and eventually sank in the Black Sea. The Moskva was the ship Ukrainians reportedly told to "f*** off" in February when it approached Snake Island and demanded Ukrainians surrender. 

May 1-16 

Kharkiv Counteroffensive 

The Ukrainians launched a counteroffensive in Kharkiv in early May and have successfully pushed the Russians back gradually toward the border. The Ukrainians have attempted counter offensives in other parts of the country too, including in the south around Kherson. The situation elsewhere, and especially in the Donbas, is less clear in this period, with Russians taking control of a hamlet or village one day and then losing control of it to Ukrainians on the next day. 

May 16 

Azovstal and the fall of Mariupol 

Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and trapped civilians ended their defense of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant. The soldiers and many civilians had taken refuge in the plant in part because of its vast underground tunnels and defended the compound for weeks against Russian attacks. On May 16, the Ukrainians negotiated with Russian forces to leave the plant. 

The end of the Azovstal battle brought most of Mariupol under Russian control, giving Russia the land bridge from Crimea across the southern coast of Ukraine it had sought since February. 

May 16-Present 

Narrower Ambitions 

Since mid-May, the Russians have narrowed their focus to the Donbas and started using smaller units to gradually capture towns and villages in the region. 

A senior defense official said the Russian military's losses were not insignificant and highlighted that Russia had lost nearly 1,000 tanks, 350 artillery pieces, and almost three dozen fighter aircraft. Despite these losses, the official cautioned that the Russian military has a numerical superiority over Ukraine in terms of equipment and manpower it can commit to the fight. 

On the Ukrainian side, Zelenskyy told Newsmax in an interview this week that the Ukrainian forces are losing up to 100 soldiers a day in eastern Ukraine and called the situation difficult. 

In an effort to help the Ukrainians, the U.S. and other allies are stepping up their assistance. On June 1, the Biden administration announced it would provide high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine with munitions that have a range of up to 70 kilometers. The HIMARS is the most significant piece of equipment the U.S. has provided Ukraine with so far. 

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin H. Kahl on Wednesday said the type of weapons the U.S. has provided to Ukraine has shifted over time as the fight has shifted to an artillery duel in the east. Initially, the priority was javelins and anti-tank weapons, then it was M777 Howitzers that have a range of about 30 kilometers, and now the U.S. is shifting to providing HIMARS. 

The initial tranche includes four HIMARS systems, but it will take some time for the HIMARS to arrive in Ukraine since training Ukrainians on them will take about three weeks, Kahl said. 

The Russians have made recent gains and are close to capturing the city of Severodonetsk, the last remaining significant city in the Luhansk oblast — or region. 

The fall of Severodonetsk would put Russia closer to achieving control of the Donbas, which includes the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. In 2014, Russian-backed separatists in these regions tried to break away from Ukraine, and Putin claimed the invasion in February was to protect these regions. One hundred days later, Russia is slowly making progress, but it remains to be seen how much longer the fighting will carry on and what victory looks like for either side. 

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