Feb 24, 2022: War returns to Europe
After months of rising tensions with roots in the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union and the 2014 toppling of a pro-Russia Ukrainian president, Russian President Vladimir Putin launches a full-scale invasion of Ukraine from the north, east and south.
Airstrikes are reported in the capital Kyiv and the eastern city of Kharkiv while troops are said to have landed in Mairupol and Odesa.
While Russian troops had been massing at the countries’ border for weeks, the sirens and shelling on that Thursday morning still shock the world.
Putin says in an address to the nation that he had ordered a “special military operation” to bring about the “demilitarisation” and “denazification” of Ukraine, protect ethnic Russians in the country and prevent Kyiv from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, compares Russia’s invasion of his country to military campaigns carried out by Nazi Germany during World War II.
Women, children, the elderly and foreign students begin to flee, many with pets in tow, seeking refuge in neighbouring countries Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
Russia makes swift territorial gains, taking control of Snake Island in the Black Sea and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Countries around the world begin to slap sanctions on Russia, though many notably do not.
From Melbourne to Mexico City and Tokyo to Tel Aviv, and even in Moscow and St Petersburg, protesters begin taking to the streets to condemn the invasion.