It's been one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. How will the war end?

It's been one year since Russian troops marched across Ukraine's borders.

That day, on February 24, air raid sirens rung out in the capital city of Kyiv after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what he called a "special military operation".

In the 12 months since, millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers, from both sides, have lost their lives. And hundreds of women and children have been exposed to sexual violence.

Around the world, millions of us have been following the invasion and the devastating events that have followed.

We read the stories of the mothers who wrote their contact details on their children's backs in case they become orphaned in the war. 

We watched the videos of the young women sharing what their lives looked like hauled up inside bunkers.

We saw the photos of the pregnant woman who clutched her belly as she was carried on a stretcher after maternity hospital was bombed in Mariupol. 

One year on, they're the stories and the people we will never forget.

Image: AAP.


To mark the one year anniversary of the invasion, here's a look at everything we know about the war.

What is happening in Ukraine now?

Since the invasion, more than eight million Ukrainians have been displaced across Europe, with 86 per cent being women and children. 

Back home on the battlefield, the invasion has settled into attritional trench warfare.

Earlier this week, two civilians were killed in Russian shelling of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine and another two were wounded in a Russian missile strike on industrial facilities in Kharki in eastern Ukraine, AAP reports.

Some of the heaviest fighting in recent months has been in and around the eastern city of Bakhmut and, more recently, Vuhledar further south, where hundreds of soldiers have lost their lives. 


This week, the National Opera of Ukraine building has been illuminated to commemorate the victims of the invasion, one year on. 

Image: Roman Pilipey/Getty.

Over in Lviv, family members have visited the graves of fallen soldiers.

Image: Sean Gallup/Getty.


Who is winning the war?

Twelve months on, it's clear no side is winning. 

"There are loses all around," John Blaxland, Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies at the Australian National University's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, told Mamamia's daily news podcast, The Quicky. 

"This is a devastating and destructive war that is seeing Ukraine, its people and its infrastructure, sent back generations.


"For Russia, it is setting it back enormously, politically, socially, economically, as well."

Ukraine had success with counter-offensives in late 2022, where they took back much of the territory they lost early on. 

Russia now controls about one fifth of Ukraine.

Where does Russia currently stand? 

Blaxland says from Russia's point of view, "The war has been catastrophic".

"It was meant to be a quick decapitation operation to swap out a regime friendly to the west, to one that was friendly with Russia, and have an intimidating effect on a disunited Europe."

In reality, the war has essentially done the opposite.

"It's had a catalytic effect on Europe, it's generated incredible unity and resolve [and] it's driven Sweden and Finland into the arms of NATO. This is exactly not what Russia, under Putin, wanted to do."

"It's [also] generated unease in the Commonwealth of Independent States... that have been aligned with Russia, but are now very, very uncomfortable with the direction that Russia is going in."

Russia can also expect to feel further effects of sanctions this year.

"With the ratcheting up of oil and gas sanctions that have taken the last year to be fully implemented, and the additional pressures from sanctions on prominent political and economic figures in Russia, 2023 will be the year when these sanctions really bite [and] when the power elites in Moscow and St Petersburg really feel it."


However, despite the sanctions and drawn-out-invasion, Russia still has plenty of manpower on the ground to fuel the war effort. 

"In an authoritarian state like Russia, they can continue to dragoon soldiers into war for quite some time. They have the ability to basically force people to fight and continue to manufacture weapons."

"And if you continue to mass produce weapons and if you continue to throw thousands of troops at a problem, there is a hope in Russia, in Putin's circle, that it will wear down the Ukrainians to the point where they sue for peace, and that is clearly what many in the West, and in Australia and elsewhere... [want to] prevent from happening."

What do we know about the threat of WWIII?

According to Blaxland, "The threat of WWIII is a real one".

Earlier this week, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a third world war could break out if China actively supports Russia's invasion. 

"For us, it is important that China does not support the Russian Federation in this war," he told German publication Die Welt. 

"If China allies itself with Russia, there will be a world war, and I do think that China is aware of that." 

Last week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told NBC News the US was "very concerned that China’s considering providing lethal support to Russia", saying it "would have serious consequences in our relationship". 


Blaxland says China would be "acutely mindful" of the threat of WWIII and would be aware that it would be "extremely destructive and counter to China's interests".

"China is a heavily trade dependent nation, it is dependent on free and open sea lines of communication, and on trusted trade between nations... and active support for Russia over Ukraine would have a precipitous and calamitous effect on degrading China's international trade arrangements."


"[China] will be looking very, very carefully at how to balance their desire to keep Russia in the game with their desire to not see this escalate out of all proportion."

Listen to John Blaxland's full interview on The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below. 

What is Australia doing to help? 

On Friday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called on Putin to stop the war and paid tribute to Ukrainian people, who had shown courage and resilience against a much larger country. 

"President Putin, stop this war now, withdraw your forces, this is an unprovoked attack," he told reporters.

"No one is threatening Russia. No one is threatening Russia's sovereignty. There is no need for you to continue this war."

It has also been announced that Australia will provide drones to Ukraine under a $33 million package, which will help intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

A further suite of financial sanctions and travel bans will also be rolled out against 90 people and 40 entities.

So far, Australia has donated almost $700 million in support, $510 million of which is military-related.

It includes 90 Bushmasters, 28 armoured vehicles, anti-armour weapons and howitzers and ammunition.

Outside of Australia, the United Nations General Assembly has passed a non-binding resolution that calls for Russia to end hostilities and withdraw from Ukraine.


Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the vote is more evidence that countries beyond just those in the west support Ukraine. 

"This vote defies the argument that the global south does not stand on Ukraine’s side," he said, as per the ABC. "Many countries representing Latin America, Africa, Asia voted in favour."

 Zelensky also called the move a "powerful signal of unflagging global support for Ukraine".

I am grateful to all the countries that endorsed the crucial @UN General Assembly resolution "Principles of the Charter of the United Nations that underline the comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine". 1/2 pic.twitter.com/nFx8OuOMug

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 23, 2023

Are we any closer to a resolution?

Sadly, Blaxland believes we are going to see this war continue for much of 2023, if not even longer "barring a major shift in the power dynamics, such as the removal of Vladimir Putin."

"We know Iran has been actively supporting Russia, and that's generated considerable pushback from the United States and countries like Israel," he explained. 

"North Korea is also reported to be supplying ammunition to Russia. How long that is sustainable is another matter... I think 2023 is going to be one of considerable additional carnage."

However, one thing we know for certain, is that Ukraine and the West aren't giving up the fight.

In a statement this week, US President Joe Biden said, "When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong.

"The cost that Ukraine has had to pay is extraordinarily high. Sacrifices have been far too great. We know that there will be difficult days and weeks and years ahead."


Volodymyr Zelensky has also stressed that Ukraine is "alive and kicking".

"Against all odds, and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn't fall."

- With AAP. 

Feature Image: Alexey Furman/Getty.