At the end of August, Ukraine launched its first big counter-attack since Russia’s full assault on the country began in February, and came despite Kyiv’s repeated complaints that the army lacked sufficient heavy western weaponry to make a decisive strike.
The advance liberated 3,000 square kilometres in just six days, Ukraine’s biggest victory since it pushed Russian troops back from the capital in March.
One of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s stated aims is to recover Kherson, a regional capital with a strategic position on the Dnipro river that Moscow’s forces captured in March after they swept north from Russian-held Crimea.
Other key maps and charts from the war
The shift in the conflict’s focus towards the Donbas region follows Russia’s failure to capture Kyiv during the first phase of the war. Prior to Ukraine’s rapid counter-offensive, marginal Russian gains in the east suggested the war was entering a period of stalemate.
The Russians were thwarted in Kyiv by a combination of factors, including geography, the attackers’ blundering and modern arms — as well as Ukraine’s ingenuity with smartphones and pieces of foam mat.
The number of Ukrainians fleeing the conflict makes it one of the largest refugee crises in modern history.
In mid-March, an attack on a Ukrainian military base, which had been used by US troops to train Ukrainian soldiers, added to Russia’s increasingly direct threats that Nato’s continued support of Ukraine risked making it an enemy combatant in the war. On March 24, Nato agreed to establish four new multinational battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to add to troops in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Sources: Institute for the Study of War, Rochan Consulting, FT research
Cartography and development by Steve Bernard, Chris Campbell, Caitlin Gilbert, Emma Lewis, Joanna S Kao, Sam Learner, Ændra Rininsland, Niko Kommenda, Alan Smith, Martin Stabe, Neggeen Sadid and Liz Faunce. Based on reporting by Roman Olearchyk and John Reed in Kyiv, Guy Chazan in Lviv, Henry Foy in Brussels and Neggeen Sadid in London.