The advance of Vladimir Putin’s war machine continues to be halted by heroic resistance, with Russian troops unable to gain ground despite relentless shelling and swathes of heavy fighting.
Mariupol, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv were today targeted in bomb attacks as thousands of civilians try to flee to safety.
The port city of Kherson and nuclear power plant of Zaporizhzhia were taken by Russian forces last week, but Putin’s commanders have not made any significant ground since.
It comes as Russia continues to shell civilians trying to flee bomb-ravaged cities, after Kyiv rejected Moscow’s offer to open ‘humanitarian corridors’ when it emerged that some of the routes led straight to its territory.
President Volodymyr Zelesnky, speaking this afternoon, said that Ukraine ‘never wanted this war, but it was brought to us’ and now its military is being forced to kill ‘to knock the enemy from our land and our lives’ while civilians endure ‘what no other European country has seen in 80 years’.
As Russia’s invasion entered day 12 on Monday, MailOnline has looked at the moment Putin’s tanks first rolled across the border to the Ukrainians’ heroic fightback.
Day one: Putin announces ‘special military operation’ as Russian troops cross the border
In a public address, Vladimir Putin announces that Russia has launched a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, claiming that he only intends to demilitarise rather than occupy the country.
He added that he wished to ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine and ‘protect Donbas’, but also warned any countries intending to interfere would ‘face consequences greater than any you have faced in history’.
Missiles and bombs subsequently rained from the sky, tanks rolled across the border, troops parachuted down on eastern regions and explosions were seen across the country after Putin gave the order for his troops to move in from the north, east and south.
Luhansk, Sumy and Chernihiv in the east of Ukraine all came under attack, while tanks battled on the outskirts of Kharkiv after paratroopers dropped in.
Blasts were also reported in the west – in Zhytomyr and Lviv, close to the border with Poland. In Kherson, in the south, Ukrainian units had reportedly been routed by Russian tanks rolling out of Crimea, which had arrived at the Dnieper River by mid-morning.
Russian forces seized control of Chernobyl nuclear power plant after a ‘fierce’ battle, with the condition of nuclear storage facilities ‘unknown’ – sparking fears of a radiation leak that could cause fallout in Europe.
As the invasion began, Boris Johnson warns the West that it must stand up to ‘dictator’ Putin as he vowed to ‘hobble’ the Russian economy with a ‘massive’ package of sanctions.
In an address to the nation, the Prime Minister said Putin cannot be allowed to ‘snuff out’ freedom in Ukraine with an act of ‘wanton and reckless aggression’.
He said Mr Putin had ‘unleashed war’ on the continent and the West must respond to ensure the eventual ‘failure’ of his offensive ‘diplomatically, politically, economically, and eventually, militarily’.
Following the first day of conflict, President Volodymyr Zelensky described Russia as ‘evil’ and said Putin had attacked ‘like a suicidal scoundrel… just as Fascist Germany did in World War II’.
Day two: Kyiv comes under bombardment as Russian forces take control of Chernobyl
Kyiv came under bombardment in the early hours of day two of the invasion, with the skies ablaze as Putin’s tanks moved to within 20 miles of the capital.
Bridges leading to Kyiv and to Kharkiv, in the east, were destroyed by Ukrainian forces to try and slow the Russian advance.
Footage also revealed Russian tanks and armoured vehicles standing in front of the destroyed reactor at Chernobyl.
A squad of Chechen special forces ‘hunters’ were said to have been unleashed in Ukraine to detain or kill a set of specific Ukrainian officials.
Each soldier was understood to have been given a special ‘deck of cards’ with Ukrainian officials’ photos and descriptions on them, a Moscow Telegram channel with links to the security establishment reported.
But Ukraine’s government claimed to have retaken an airport on the outskirts of Kyiv that Russian airborne troops had earlier seized, as President Zelensky ordered compulsory enlistment and banned all men aged 18-60 from leaving the country.
Boris Johnson also vowed to hit Putin’s ‘inner circle’ with sanctions as he urged European nations to give more support to Ukraine ‘as a matter of the greatest urgency’.
Hacking group Anonymous also declared ‘cyber war’ against Putin’s government, with the elusive computer experts issuing the stark announcement on their Twitter account.
Around 30 minutes later, they announced that they had taken down the website of the Kremlin-backed TV channel RT, which broadcasts in Britain and has been heavily criticised for its coverage.
Day three: Missile strikes apartment block in Kyiv but Russia only making limited progress
The civilian death toll reached 198 after a devastating missile struck a high-rise apartment block as fighting continued to rage around Kyiv.
Russia also said it is not willing to negotiate with the Ukrainian government until its military operation is over, despite President Zelensky calling for sit-down talks with Putin.
Zelensky also told President Joe Biden ‘I need ammunition, not a ride,’ when offered the chance of a US-backed evacuation from Ukraine.
Boris Johnson, meanwhile, again addressed a message to the people of Russia in their own language, saying: ‘I do not believe this war is in your name.’
It came as Russian forces encircles Ukraine following a barrage of airstrikes on cities and military bases around the country.
Russia’s military said it seized a strategic airport outside Kyiv, allowing it to quickly build up forces to take the capital. It claimed to have already cut the city off from the west – the direction taken by many to escape the invasion – leading to lines of cars snaking toward the Polish border.
Intense gunfire broke out on a bridge across the Dnieper River dividing eastern and western Kyiv, while another key bridge to the capital was blown away.
But the Ministry of Defence said Russia’s invasion had so far made limited progress and Ukraine retained control of key cities, including the capital.
Day four: Putin places nuclear forces on alert as forces encounter strong opposition
Putin says he has placed Moscow’s nuclear forces on a ‘special regime of combat duty’ in response to ‘aggressive statements’ from members of the Nato defence alliance.
It came after new crippling Western sanctions forced his Central Bank to sharply raise its key rate to save the rouble from collapse.
The directive came as Russian forces encountered strong opposition from Ukraine defenders across the country – most notably in Kyiv.
By late on the fourth day, Russian forces had taken Berdyansk, a Ukrainian city of 100,000 on the Azov Sea coast, according to Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Zelensky’s office.
Russian troops also made advances toward Kherson, another city in the south of Ukraine, while Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov that is considered a prime Russian target, is ‘hanging on,’ Arestovich said.
While Putin’s special forces had reached the suburbs of the capital, the bulk of its heavy armour was believed to be still more than 50km away.
Moscow had also so far failed to win full control of airspace, despite advances across the country, with US officials saying they believe the invasion had been more difficult than the Kremlin envisioned.
Ukrainian officials claimed to have repelled attacks on the country’s second city Kharkiv.
Day five: Russia denies shelling residential areas as blasts heard in several Ukrainian cities
Day five saw an escalation in fighting as supposed peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials took place.
Blasts were heard in the early hours of day five in several of Ukraine cities including the capital Kyiv, Kharkiv, the country’s second biggest city and Chernihiv, north of the capital, but overall, it was a quiet night on the streets of the capital with an almost two-day curfew lifted on Monday morning.
It came as satellite imagery released by Maxar Technologies depicted a three-mile long convoy of Russian military vehicles lined up on roads leading to Kyiv, thought to be less than 40 miles away.
And a 400-strong squad of bloodthirsty mercenaries were reportedly flown in from Africa with orders to kill Zelensky – a notorious private militia linked to a string of rapes, robberies, murders, and alleged war crimes.
The Wagner Group is believed to have a hit list of 23 key figures including the Klitschko brothers.
On the morning of day five, though, Ukraine’s defense minister issues a defiant message following another night where Russian troops failed to take Kyiv.
‘We will not give up the capital, Ukraine is already winning,’ Oleksii Reznikov said describing it as ’96 hours of resistance’ and ‘four days of dedication, courage and faith’.
Day six: Zelensky declares Russia ‘a terrorist state’ after 18 killed in Kharkiv rocket strikes
Zelensky declared Russia ‘a terrorist state’ following a rocket attack in front of a civilian public administration building in Kharkiv which destroyed the road outside and blew the windows out of the building itself on day six.
Missile strikes in the city killed at least 18 civilians and injured dozens more.
The war entered a new phase, with Russia’s aim seemingly to surround and besiege cities such as Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol, Sumy and Kherson which have so-far put up fierce resistance – and bomb them into submission.
A huge Russian column of military vehicles, stretching for around 40 miles, was pictured around 17 miles from Kyiv. However, US officials said it appeared to have stalled due to the brave fighting of Ukrainian forces.
Boris Johnson warned Putin against committing a ‘unalterable moral humanitarian catastrophe’ amid attacks on civilian targets in the capital designed to rejuvenate Moscow’s stalled advance.
Explosions erupted around Kyiv’s 1,300ft television tower on day six, just hours after Russia told civilians to evacuate because it was about to begin bombarding ‘strategic’ targets.
But Ukraine claimed it destroyed an elite group of Chechen fighters that were plotting to assassinate Zelensky.
Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine’s Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, said during a televised address today that the unit ‘which came to kill our President, was eliminated’.
Furious Ukrainians were also filmed screaming ‘invaders, killers’ while blocking an army convoy – as a Russian soldier fires warning shots in the air.
Day seven: Russia claims to have taken first city as Putin’s war machine steps up efforts
Ukraine denied Russian claims that its troops had seized the southern city of Kherson, on the Black Sea, in what would have been the first major city to fall.
Heavy shelling of Ukraine’s major cities continued, though, as Russian paratroopers landed in Kharkiv in the early hours following several days of bombardment.
Kyiv also came under further bombing as Russian forces stepped up attempts to try and take the capital.
The port city of Mariupol, another key strategic target, is also said to be encircled by Russian troops as Ukrainian forces continue to put up fierce resistance.
However, its Mayor says they cannot get remove dead bodies from the streets as ‘the shelling does not stop’.
Ukrainian emergency services say more than 350 civilians have been killed, though officials also say thousands of Russians have died in the conflict.
More than 350 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and more than 2,000 injured, according to Ukraine’s emergency service.
Day eight: Mariupol bombarded with shelling as huge Russian convoy is halted
Russian forces claim to be in control of government buildings on Kherson, while Mariupol is also understood to be encircled.
Residents of Mariupol say they have been hit with constant shelling and are completely cut off by Russian troops.
Odessa also prepares for an amphibious assault with strategists believing it is being targeted to cut off Ukraine from the sea and to create a land corridor.
About 80 per cent of Russia’s invasion force are now said to be in Ukraine, with as many as 15,000 troops – an entire Russian army division – bearing down on Kyiv.
But the huge convoy outside the capital continues to remain stagnant as it becomes plagues with breakdown issues and Ukrainian attacks.
As progress stalls, though, fears grow that Russian bombing will intensify in order to impact morale.
Fears are growing Russia could intensify bombing on the Ukrainian capital with a 40-mile convoy of tanks and other military vehicles amassed on its outskirts.
Roughly 874,000 refugees have now fled Ukraine, while 2,000 have been killed in the violent conflict.
Day nine: Russia seizes Europe’s largest nuclear plant as heavy shelling intensifies
Russian troops seize Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia after heavy shelling caused a large fire.
A projectile hit one of its six reactors overnight, causing a fire that was later extinguished.
Zelensky accused Russia of ‘nuclear terror’, while Boris Johnson said Putin had ‘threatened the safety of all of Europe’.
Putin’s forces also intensified their bombing of Mariupol after already taking Kherson, while Russian troops were also said to have entered Mykolayiv and Kharkiv following shelling.
Mykolaiv, another port city, also comes under attack from Russian forces as Putin looks to seize control of the Black Sea.
Day ten: Ceasefire to allow refugees to flee is scuppered by shelling after 45 minutes
A ceasefire is agreed between Russia and Ukraine in Mariupol to allow hundreds of thousands of residents to flee the city for safety.
However, shells rain down on the port city just 45 minutes into the ceasefire, leaving residents trapped without electricity or water.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence said the proposed ceasefire was likely an attempt to regroup its forces for a new onslaught, while also an attempt to deflect international condemnation.
Russia’s defence ministry accused Ukrainian ‘nationalists’ of preventing civilians from leaving, RIA news agency reported. But Mariupol’s city council said Russia was not observing the ceasefire.
The Kremlin also threatened Britain with ‘tough retaliatory measures’ as Putin said devastating Western sanctions against Russia are verging on a declaration of war, and warned that any country imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be considered to have entered the ongoing conflict.
But thousands of Ukrainian residents marched through the streets of Kherson in defiance of Russian troops.
And Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba claimed Russia has lost more than 10,000 troops since the invasion began.
Day 11: Mariupol ceasefire interrupted by bombing again as Vinnytsia airport is destroyed
The Kremlin is understood to be recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine, US officials say, as Russian advances stall in the continued face of strong resistance.
A second agreed ceasefire to allow residents to leave Mariupol safely is also again interrupted by Russian shelling after just minutes.
Heartbreaking footage, taken in Irpin, located on the outskirts of the besieged capital city Kyiv, also confirmed that Russian forces are attacking heavily populated civilian areas where men, women and children are leaving the country.
It came as US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken today said there are ‘very credible reports’ that Russia has committed war crimes during its invasion of Ukraine – particularly in attacking civilians.
Russia is said to have deployed around 95 per cent of its combat forces it had prepared on the Ukrainian border, with Vinnytsia airport totally destroyed by a reported eight Russian missiles on day 11 of the war.
Some 400,000 residents were hoped to be evacuated from 12pm today, with an initial agreement in place until 9pm, but residents were again left having to take cover in bomb shelters without electricity and water.
Zelensky also warned that Russian forces are preparing to shell Odess, much like Mariupol, as the relentless bombing continued.
Day 12: Russia continues to pummel Ukrainian cities with shelling as Russian war ship struck
Russia announced yet another ceasefire and a handful of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee Ukraine today ahead of a third round of planned talks.
The Russian Defence Ministry said a ceasefire would start in the morning, and safe passages would open for civilians from Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy.
But some of the evacuation routes would funnel civilians toward Russia or its ally Belarus – and hopes were dim that the latest talks would yield breakthroughs.
Russian forces continued to pummel some Ukrainian cities with rockets even after the new announcement of corridors and fierce fighting continued in some areas, indicating there would be no wider cessation of hostilities.
Well into the second week of war, Russia’s plan to quickly overrun the country has been stymied by fierce resistance. Its troops have made significant advances in southern Ukraine and along the coast, but many of its efforts have become stalled.
A Russian war ship was struck by Ukrainian forces as they continued to defend the port of Odessa from invading troops, according to Ukraine ‘s navy. Video footage appeared to show Ukrainian defence forces, based in Odessa, cheering as they exchanged fire with ships in the Black Sea