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After 2 years of Russia's full-scale war, Ukraine keeps fighting

by The Kyiv Independent news desk February 24, 2024 11:56 AM 3 min read
People cross a destroyed bridge as they evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, during heavy shelling and bombing, 10 days after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, on March 5, 2022. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)
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Exactly two years ago, on Feb. 24, 2022, Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the largest military attack in Europe since World War II.

This day in 2022 also marked a turning point in a decade of ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine that started with the illegal annexation of Crimea and the onset of war in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in 2014.

Despite Russia's reported plan to "seize Kyiv in three days," Ukraine has defied the odds and kept fighting, managing to liberate swaths of territory that fell under Russian occupation. The fight has come at a significant cost.

An estimated 10,582 civilians in Ukraine have been killed and 19,875 others have been injured in the past two years, according to the latest report released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Feb. 22.

However, the actual casualty numbers are likely much higher since it's impossible to calculate losses in areas under Russian occupation, including parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts. Around 18% of Ukraine's territory is currently under Russian occupation.

The casualty numbers of Ukrainian soldiers are not disclosed by Ukrainian authorities. Thousands of service members are estimated to be held in Russian captivity, where they are subject to torture and horrific living conditions.

Two years of Russia's all-out war has led to the destruction of once-prosperous Ukrainian cities, particularly in the east. The names of cities like Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mariupol will forever be synonymous with the brutality of the Russian military in its push to conquer Ukraine.

Multiple war crimes have also been committed by Russian soldiers on Ukrainian soil over the past two years. The Prosecutor General's Office has recorded at least 126,135 war crimes, according to the latest update on its website.

Russian war crimes include the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, abduction, rape, torture, unlawful detention, and forced deportation. Evidence of these war crimes has often emerged after the liberation of Ukrainian territory, such as the massacre in Bucha in the spring of 2022 or the mass graves discovered in Izium after the Kharkiv Oblast counteroffensive in the fall of 2022.

Ukrainian children have suffered greatly during Russia's war. At least 528 children have been killed and 1,230 others have been injured, according to the Prosecutor General's Office. The Ukrainian government has identified over 19,000 children who were kidnapped by Russia but has only been able to bring back a little under 400 of them.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Maria Lvova-Belova and Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2023 over their role in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children.

Ecocide became known as a weapon of war when Russian forces destroyed the Kakhovka dam in June 2023, leading to mass flooding and evacuation in Kherson Oblast. The aftermath of the dam's destruction resulted in major humanitarian, ecological, economic, military, and legal consequences for Ukraine.

Russia's ongoing occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest in Europe, is nuclear blackmail that could have disastrous consequences for the entire continent.

The state nuclear energy agency Energoatom Ukrainian authorities reported in June 2023 that energy workers, medics, rescuers, police, and other services in Kherson, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts had conducted large-scale training exercizes in the event of a Russian attack on the nucelar plant.

As public discourse in the West centers on "war fatigue" and deliberates whether Ukraine can achieve victory against Russia, it's crucial to remember everything that Ukrainians have lived through and emphasize the continued necessity of support for Ukraine's efforts to prevail.

Read our coverage on the occasion of the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion:

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