Russia’s Ukraine Invasion Hits 6-Month Mark—A Look At What’s Happened So Far

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Six months have passed since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a conflict that has forced millions of Ukrainians to flee their homes, left an estimated tens of thousands of Russian soldiers dead or injured, while Russia’s economy has tightened under pressure from a spate of Western sanctions.

A Ukrainian soldier waves a Ukrainian flag.

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Key Facts

To date, Russia has secured some small victories in the war: After failing to take Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv early on, Russian forces redirected their energy to the Eastern Ukrainian Donbas region, eventually claiming control of the Luhansk province, but not the Donetsk province.

Ukraine has been able to thwart Russia’s efforts with the help of weapons donated by several allies, including the U.S., which has provided $10.6 billion in aid to Ukraine to date, plus another $3 billion the U.S. is expected to announce Wednesday.

Russia’s economy has taken a hit, shrinking 4% in the second quarter compared to the year before, after growing 3.5% during the first quarter, according to federal government data, after the U.S. and allies imposed a series of sanctions, including on Russian oligarchs, banks, allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while the European Union pledged to slash oil purchases.

Dozens of major companies have exited Russia in response to the war, including Spotify, Nike, H&M, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks.

The six-month mark comes as Ukraine is celebrating independence day, two occasions U.S. officials worry could cause Russia to ramp up attacks on civilian infrastructure and government facilities this week.

Ukrainian troops ride on tanks towards the front line with Russian forces.

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Surprising Fact

About 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or injured during the war, White House officials estimated this month. Ukraine, by contrast, has lost an estimated 9,000 soldiers since the war began, a Ukrainian official said this week. Some 5,587 civilians in Ukraine have been killed, while 7,890 have been injured, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, though the organization noted actual deaths are likely much higher. Ukrainian officials in some cities have estimated more than 10,000 civilians have been killed in Russian attacks. Most civilian casualties have been caused by shelling, air strikes and other heavy artillery explosions, UNHCR said.

People who fled the war in Ukraine stay inside a temporary refugee shelter.

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Big Number

At least 12 million. That’s how many Ukrainians had fled their homes as of July, according to the UN. Some 6.65 million Ukrainians refugees have been recorded across Europe as of August 17, according to the UNHCR. Most have left for neighboring Russia and Poland. About 7 million people have been internally displaced within Ukraine since the war began, the UNHCR estimates.

A teddy bear hangs on a tree in front of a building destroyed by a bombing in Borodianka, Ukraine.

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The war has caused $113.5 billion in damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure, according to the latest estimates from the Kyiv School of Economics. The infrastructure damage would cost roughly $200 billion to repair, researchers estimated. The war has inflicted the most damage on housing, with $47.8 billion of damage and destruction to 131,300 residential buildings, according to the Kyiv School of Economics.

Key Background

Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 with a series of missile attacks, as Putin claimed the “special military operation” was aimed at “demilitarizing” Ukraine. The U.S. and allies around the world rushed to condemn what they called an unjustified invasion, swiftly sending aid to Ukraine and placing sanctions on Russia to punish Putin. Though the sanctions have put some pressure on Russia’s economy, an increase in oil purchases from countries like China and Turkey have helped offset some Russian losses. Russia began the war by targeting Kyiv, but has turned its efforts to the east after failing to capture the capital. Experts say the war has reached somewhat of a standstill after six months. Some tensions have flared in recent weeks, after Ukrainian officials suggested privately they were behind several blasts at military bases in Kremlin-occupied Crimea, including one that reportedly destroyed nine Russian warplanes. Russia was also quick to blame Ukraine this week for orchestrating a car bombing last week that killed the daughter of a close Putin ally, Alexander Dugin.

What To Watch For

A prolonged conflict. Ukraine has “beat[en] back Russian troops through a combination of sheer determination and plentiful Western arms,” but the war is “far from over,” according to experts with the Atlantic Council, an international affairs think tank. The conflict “appears to be settling into a long, attritional battle that will test Ukrainian and Western resolve,” the think tank concluded in an essay.

Further Reading

6 months into invasion, what is the endgame in Ukraine? (ABC News)

Where Russia’s War in Ukraine Stands—And What Could Happen Next (Time)

Russia ‘Stepping Up’ Civilian Strikes As Ukraine’s Independence Day Approaches, U.S. Warns (Forbes)

Western sanctions are wounding but not yet crushing Russia’s economy (Washington Post)

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