The Ukraine-Russia war explained: a complete visual guide

What is happening?

Russian forces have attacked Ukraine by land, sea, and air on a massive scale, bringing to a calamitous end weeks of fruitless diplomatic efforts by western leaders to avert war.

Cruise and ballistic missiles have rained down on military facilities across the country and columns of troops have poured across the border from Russia and Belarus. Fierce fighting has been taking place in the regions of Sumy, Kharkiv, Kherson, Odessa and at a military airport near Kyiv.

Invasion map

What do we know about invasion?

Western defence officials have said repeatedly that while Russia was likely to attack on “multiple axes”, the primary goal is to encircle the capital, Kyiv, and ultimately try to provoke regime change. There are clear signs of fighting and other military activity around and on the way to the capital, including an ambitious attack by helicopters on the Hostomel military airbase on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Hostomel footage
Hostomel map

One Russian axis of advance appears to be centred around the Senkivka border crossing to near Chernihiv in the north, where a column of Russian armour was seen advancing.

Tanks seen moving into across the Senkivka border on 24 February.
Tanks seen moving into across the Senkivka border on 24 February. Photograph: Ukraine border guard

A substantial attack appeared aimed towards the eastern city of Kharkiv, where fierce fighting was reported.

Kharkiv video

Russian forces also headed north and east from Crimea. Social media footage appeared to show Russian forces reaching Kherson on the Dnieper, 130km inside Ukraine.

How did we get here?

Over the past few months Russia has forward-deployed hundreds of tanks, self-propelled artillery and even short-range ballistic missiles from as far away as Siberia to within striking range of Ukraine.

Map showing Russian troop deployments

Moscow’s rhetoric also grew more belligerent. Putin demanded legal guarantees that Ukraine would never join Nato or host its missile strike systems, concessions he was unlikely to receive. A flurry of diplomatic activity

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