On the morning of February 24, 2022, Russian forces invaded Ukraine after months of rising tensions and failing diplomatic talks between Russia and Ukraine.
In the days that followed, Russia attacked from the air, land, and sea — killing hundreds and devastating the lives of more than 44 million people.
After one month of conflict, more than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries and more than 6.5 million are now internally displaced.
Below is a visual breakdown of the human cost of the war as it unfolded day by day.
DAY 1 - February 24
Shortly before 6am Moscow time (03:00 GMT) in a televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin announces he is launching a special military operation in eastern Ukraine.
I decided to conduct a special military operation It’s goal is the protection of people who, during eight years, suffer abuse and genocide from Kyiv regime.
- President Vladimir Putin
In the following hours, explosions are heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa and the Donbas region. Russian troops infiltrate Ukraine from Crimea in the south, Belarus in the north, and separatist-held areas in the east.
Russian missiles target key Ukrainian infrastructure, including Boryspil International Airport - the largest airport in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy introduces martial law and asks citizens to bear arms to defend Ukraine.
DAY 2 - February 25
Missiles hit Kyiv as Russian forces advance further into the country. Heavy bombing continues in other cities.
More than 50,000 people have left Ukraine for safety since the start of the invasion.
DAY 3 - February 26
As Russian forces attempt to invade Kyiv, a curfew is introduced in the country’s capital. A high-rise residential apartment block is hit in the city.
“The levels of violence raining down from the sky, through the streets of this city — it’s reaching its highest level,” says Al Jazeera correspondent Andrew Simmons. “Crescendos of sounds, crescendos of fear. The clock is ticking on the next stage of this Russian invasion, which is an attempt to take the capital.”
Jekaterina and her daughter are just two of those who have had their lives turned upside down. Forced to flee their home, Jekaterina says, “It is difficult, very difficult. On one hand, it is good because I am safe with my daughter, but on the other hand, I suffer because of the separation [from my husband].”
DAY 4 - February 27
Zelenskyy addresses the international community, appealing to people to sign up to an international brigade to help fight Russian forces.
In Ukraine, the southern cities of Kherson and Berdyansk are besieged, as Russian forces attack Ukrainian oil and gas facilities.
DAY 5 - February 28
Russia and Ukraine hold the first round of ceasefire talks at the Belarusian border on the day that Ukraine symbolically applies to join the European Union (EU).
Eleven civilians are killed in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, where continuing shelling devastates the city.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says more than half a million people have now fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries. Among them is a young Ukrainian boy called Mark. Now a refugee. Fighting back tears, he says, “We left Dad behind …”
Families are torn apart as men aged 18 to 60 must stay behind to defend Ukraine.
The war also kills Russian fighters, as Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, reads out a final text message exchange between a Russian soldier and his mother, moments before he was killed.
“Aloysha, how are you doing? Why has it been so long since you responded? Are you really in training exercises?” .
“Mama, I’m no longer in Crimea. I’m not in training sessions.”
“Where are you then? Papa is asking whether I can send you a parcel.”
“What kind of a parcel, mama, can you send me?”
“What are you talking about, what happened?”
“Mama, I’m in Ukraine. There is a real war raging here. I’m afraid. We are bombing all of the cities together, even targeting civilians. We were told they would welcome us and they are falling under our armoured vehicles, throwing themselves under the wheels and not allowing us to pass. They call us fascists. Mama, this is so hard.”
DAY 6 - March 1
On day six of the conflict, Kharkiv continues to be aggressively bombarded by Russian strikes: an air raid on government headquarters kills 10 people; an attack on a residential building kills eight.
Satellite footage shows a 65km-long Russian convoy outside of Kyiv as soldiers and residents prepare for an attack by digging trenches. One resident in Kyiv says the Russians will be greeted with Molotov cocktails.
Victor: “War has come to me, I have to do this, we are all fellow compatriots, civilians are dying, grandmas like mine at home, children like my brothers and sisters.”
Russian forces also attack a television tower in the capital.
The UN announces at least 136 civilians, including 13 children, have been killed since the invasion began.
DAY 7 - March 2
The Russian military claims to have full control of the port city of Kherson while fighting continues in Kharkiv.
Jailed Moscow critic Alexey Navalny tells Russians to protest daily against the invasion of Ukraine.
Angela, 27, and her six-year-old daughter Alisa, left their home days earlier, crossing the border into Romania.
In our town, nobody wants to leave; most people volunteered to fight. I did not want to go. But I don’t want my child to see the war, to hear the war.
DAY 8 - March 3
Russia and Ukraine agree to establish humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from besieged areas of Ukraine.
Sirens are heard in the the city of Enerhodar in the north-western part of Zaporizhzhia oblast.
The UN says more than one million people have fled Ukraine since the war began. Women and children make up the majority of those who have left, as volunteers in Poland turn up at the Poland-Ukraine border to help refugees. One mother at the border:
“My husband drove us to the border. We left on February 26 and we travelled for two days and stayed at the border for two days. My husband then went back to fight and I’m extremely worried about him.”
DAY 9 - March 4
Russian forces seize control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe with a fire breaking out at the facility causing alarm around the world.
The UN says more than 1.2 million people have now fled Ukraine. Roman’s voice breaks as he leaves his family at the border. He will stay to fight.
“Feelings? Fear, confusion, hate, anger. I don’t even know. One feeling is I need to send my family to safety and then everything will be all right. We will win for sure. We will save our country.”
DAY 10 - March 5
Despite a partial ceasefire being declared, the evacuation of those trapped in Mariupol and Volnovakha is halted as both come under fire, as fighting enters its tenth day.
The UN reports that more than 1.5 million people have left Ukraine.
DAY 11 - March 6
A second attempt to evacuate 200,000 residents from Mariupol fails as shelling and fighting continues.
Along with Mariupol, Ukrainian officials say Russia is targeting civilians in Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Kyiv. Russian missiles strike a civilian airport in Vinnytsia in central Ukraine.
Medical staff are unable to save 18-month-old Kirill.
DAY 12 - March 7
As a third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine yields some progress to establish humanitarian corridors, Russian shelling prevents the evacuation of residents from Kyiv, Mariupol, Sumy, Kharkiv, Volnovakha and Mykolaiv.
DAY 13 - March 8
As the UN says the number of people fleeing Ukraine has reached more than two million, major Ukrainian cities come under heavy shelling and air strikes as residential areas in Chernihiv, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv are attacked. In the city of Sumy, at least nine people, including two children are killed in an attack, Ukrainian officials say.
Taisa, a pensioner from Kharkiv, wanders around the destroyed city, unable to comprehend the devastation wreaked on her city: “I cannot think straight, I cannot find the words …”
DAY 14 - March 9
Russian forces say they will ensure safe passage for civilians who wish to leave Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol. Fighting continues in Kharkiv as Russian troops repeatedly attempt to seize the regional capital of Mykolaiv.
The UN verifies 1,335 civilian casualties in Ukraine — 474 people killed and 861 injured. The true death toll is likely to be higher.
DAY 15 - March 10
Photos emerge showing the aftermath of a maternity hospital complex in Mariupol. A Russian air strike killed three people and injured at least 17, according to President Zelenskyy. In Zhytomyr, two hospitals — one a children’s hospital — are bombed.
Two women and a young boy are killed after overnight Russian bombing in Velyka Pysarivka near Sumy.
DAY 16 - March 11
The number of refugees who have left Ukraine surpasses 2.5 million, with another two million internally displaced.
DAY 17 - March 12
Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have attacked a humanitarian convoy attempting to relieve citizens trapped in Mariupol where Russian tanks have shelled an apartment building.
Ukrainian authorities warn a humanitarian catastrophe looms in the port city, which is encircled by Russian forces — meaning food and medicine cannot reach those trapped in the city.
There is nothing here. There is no information, no electricity. It’s just a vacuum.
- Sergei, a citizen in Mariupol.
Mariupol’s mayor says the 10-day assault has killed more than 1,500 people. Russian forces shell a mosque in the city where more than 80 adults and children were taking refuge. Those who have been killed are being buried in mass graves as formal burials are no longer safe.
DAY 18 - March 13
Russian bombardments continue as 30 cruise missiles are fired at a military training base in Yavoriv, 25km from the Polish border. Russian troops also attack Ivano-Frankivsk airport.
President Zelenskyy calls it a “black day” in Ukraine, once again urging for a no-fly zone over the country. A total of 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since the start of the invasion, according to Zelenskyy. And the UN says at least 579 Ukrainian civilians have been killed — though the figures are likely much higher.
DAY 19 - March 14
Russian forces block a humanitarian convoy trying to reach Mariupol, however the city council says more than 160 cars have managed to leave the besieged city, making it the first evacuation in two weeks.
A pregnant woman wounded in an attack on a maternity hospital earlier in the week dies, along with her baby, reports say.
One person is killed and 12 others are injured following an air raid on a residential building in Kyiv.
A Russian journalist disrupts state television in Russia holding up an anti-war protest placard. She is later arrested.
DAY 20 - March 15
An air attack hits a housing block in Kyiv, killing at least four people as a 36-hour curfew is introduced in the capital. A Ukrainian journalist and American cameraman are killed.
Ukraine reports that 19 people have been killed in an attack on a TV tower in Rivne.
DAY 21 - March 16
A theatre sheltering hundreds of Ukrainians comes under attack from Russian bombs, Ukrainian officials say. Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boychenko, says, “The only way to describe what has happened today is genocide.”
Three million people have fled Ukraine, with nearly half being children, according to the UN. It also says nine out of 10 Ukrainians will face poverty and economic vulnerability if the war lasts more than a year.
DAY 22 - March 17
Rescue efforts to find survivors from the attack on a theatre earlier in the week begin, while more deaths follow.
The shelling of a school and cultural centre in Merefa, near Kharkiv, kills 21 people and injures 25.
More than 50 civilians have been killed in bombardments over the last 24 hours in Chernihiv, its governor says.
In Kyiv, one person is killed and three are injured when debris from a downed rocket hits an apartment block, as Russian forces press in on the capital.
DAY 23 - March 18
Enormous destruction is seen across many cities. Russia attacks Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kramatorsk, and missiles destroy an aircraft repair plant near Lviv’s airport. In Mariupol, authorities say Russian forces are dropping 50 to 100 bombs daily, where more than 350,000 people are thought to be sheltering.
The UN says more than 6.5 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine and 780 civilian deaths have been confirmed since the invasion began.
The World Health Organization (WHO) verifies 43 attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine that have killed 12 people and injured dozens more, including health workers.
DAY 24 - March 19
Almost 10,000 people have been evacuated via humanitarian corridors. However, in Mariupol, many are still left behind. Several buildings in the city have been reduced to rubble with the battle now reported to be approaching the city centre.
The Luhansk regional governor says persistent shelling by Russian forces is preventing the safe evacuation of civilians. Meanwhile, President Zelenskyy confirms that more than 130 people have been rescued from the bombed theatre where civilians were sheltering.
The Ukrainian prosecutor's office says 112 children have been killed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.
Despite border crossings from Ukraine slowing, the UN says they could rise again if conditions in the west of Ukraine worsen.
DAY 25 - March 20
The UN says almost one in four people in Ukraine have been displaced, with more than 3.3 million refugees having fled Ukraine since the invasion began.
The UN warns humanitarian needs in eastern Ukraine are becoming ever more dire, with a lack of food, water and medicine in cities such as Mariupol and Sumy.
In the Ukrainian capital, a volunteer organisation is helping those who are unable to leave. Amid the relentless Russian bombardment, it is one of the only organisations of its kind operating.
Maria, one of the elderly civilians being helped by the volunteers:
I was in the hospital with heart problems, my daughter died recently. I have a niece who could help, but public transport is shut so she can’t get here. Right now I don’t need anything because they bought me things. But, this won’t last long.
DAY 26 - March 21
A fresh curfew is announced in Kyiv following a deadly attack killing eight people. In Kherson, protesters gather in the city as Russian forces attempt to disperse crowds using tear gas.
And in Odesa, the mayor says Russian forces have struck buildings on the outskirts of the city, hitting a large shopping centre.
The governor of Sumy says the villages of Novoselytsia and Verkhnya Syrovatka have been contaminated by an ammonia leak at a chemical plant in the northeastern part of the city besieged by Russian troops.
In Kharkiv, constant attacks have left the city in ruin. Many, like Anastasia, are taking refuge underground at metro stations.
DAY 27 - March 22
As one Ukrainian news outlet reports, air-raid sirens sound through almost every region of the country. In the port city of Mariupol, many residents remain trapped as fighting continues to rage. The city has suffered some of the heaviest bombardment during one month of war.
As Russia continues to strike the eastern cities of Kharkiv, Suny and Chernihiv, more than 8,000 people are evacuated from Ukraine.
DAY 28 - March 23
Ukraine and Russia agree to establish nine humanitarian corridors, however the city of Mariupol is not included in the deal. Ukraine says more than 4,500 people were evacuated from cities.
Ukraine accuses Russia of using a phosphorus bomb in an attack on the town of Popasna in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region. The use of such weapons in civilian areas is banned under international law.
DAY 29 - March 24
While Russia denies targeting civilians, Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko tells reporters that 264 civilians have been killed in his city as a result of Russian attacks since the war began.
President Zelenskyy calls for worldwide protests and an end to the war as the UN says more than 10 million people have been displaced from their homes since the war began.
After just one month of war, the lives and stories of many Ukrainians have been changed forever.