- Russia celebrates Victory Day even as its war with Ukraine enters third month
- The war has taken a heavy toll in personnel and equipment for Russia
- Battered by Western sanctions, Russia lacks financial resources for a protracted conflict
Russia Ukraine War Day 75: May 9 is one of Russia’s most significant national holidays. Celebrated annually, Victory Day marks the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany during World War 2. But this year, the country’s celebrations are likely to take on a whole new meaning. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has clocked over two grim months in which millions of people have been displaced and thousands killed in the violence that sanctions and diplomatic talks have not been able to put an end to. Ukrainian troops have solidified their positions around the nation’s second-largest city as Russian forces delivered more punishing attacks on an embattled steelworks in a bid to complete their conquest of the southern port of Mariupol in time for Victory Day celebrations.
Here's a quick look at how events unfolded so far
A botched military operation
A failed Russian attempt to storm Kyiv and other big cities took a heavy toll in personnel and equipment, boosted morale in Ukraine and allowed it to rally broad international support. The flow of Western weapons into Ukraine and growing popular resistance to Russian aggression will further raise the costs of war for Moscow.
Refocus and redeployment
Russia’s focus is turning to Ukraine’s industrial heartland, known as the Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian government forces since the conflict there erupted shortly after the Kremlin’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. After their retreat from Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy, Russian forces pulled back to the territory of Belarus, Moscow’s ally, as well as areas in western Russia to be rearmed and resupplied for the new offensive.
Will a new commander make the difference?
Gen. Alexander Dvornikov was appointed the new military commander for the campaign in Ukraine. The 60-year-old soldier is one of Russia’s most experienced officers, credited with leading Moscow’s forces to victory in Syria in a ruthless campaign to shore up President Bashar Assad’s regime in a civil war that saw entire cities flattened and millions displaced.
Trying new battlefield tactics
Some predict Russia may try to use its forces north of Crimea to try to capture the industrial hubs of Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro on the Dnieper River, effectively cutting Ukraine in half.
For Putin, a race against time
Battered by Western sanctions, Russia lacks financial resources for a protracted conflict. If the fighting drags on, it will inevitably worsen the economy and could bring social tensions, eroding the Kremlin’s support base. The military already has put its most capable combat units in the campaign, and continued fighting will likely force it to call up more reservists and throw fresh conscripts into combat — moves that could be extremely unpopular.
Some key events so far
Feb. 24: Russia invades Ukraine from three fronts
Feb. 28: The first talks between the two sides
March 1: Russia hits a TV tower in Kyiv and intensifies bombardment of Kharkiv
March 2: Russian forces bombard the southern port of Mariupol
March 4: Russian forces seize Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's biggest
March 8: Civilians flee the besieged city of Sumy in the first successful humanitarian corridor. Two million have now fled Ukraine, the UNHCR says.
April 1: Ukraine recaptures territory around Kyiv from Russian soldiers
April 3/4: Ukraine accuses Russia of war crimes after a mass grave was found in the recaptured town of Bucha
April 8: Ukraine and its allies blame Russia for a missile attack on a train station in Kramatorsk that killed at least 52 people.
April 14: Russia's lead warship in the Black Sea, the Moskva, sinks after an explosion and fire that Ukraine says was caused by a missile strike.