In videos and photos, a timeline of Russia’s war on Ukraine

Footage filmed on March 3 shows the destruction left by the Russian assault in Borodyanka, a small town 40 miles from Kyiv. (Video: Reuters)
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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought death and destruction across the country. For Ukrainians, lives have been forever changed. Millions have fled their homeland; others have resolved to stay and fight, regardless of their military experience.

Through videos verified by The Washington Post, and scenes captured by Post correspondents, here’s how the war has unfolded.

March 8: U.N. says more than 2 million have fled

George Keburia wiped away tears as he said goodbye to his wife, Maya, and their children after they boarded a train departing west from Odessa on March 5. Fearful of the violence that could reach their city, his family became one of the many to leave their home in Ukraine since the war began less than two weeks ago.

More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine as Russia’s invasion has continued, the United Nations said. The announcement came as Ukraine continued to accuse Russia of targeting civilians, even as the two nations agreed upon a cease-fire for humanitarian corridors. The U.N. estimated that some 4 million people could flee the country as the war continues.

March 2: Refugees surpass 1 million

More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine, according to the U.N. refugee agency. The organization said the crisis was “set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century” and praised the neighboring countries of Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia for keeping their borders open.

The country has also seen a rise in internal displacement. The U.N. estimates that 12 million people will need relief and protection inside Ukraine, a country with a population of about 43 million, as Russia intensifies its military assault.

March 1: Bombing of Kyiv’s television tower and Kharkiv’s Freedom square

Moscow continued its assault on Ukrainian cities and appeared to escalate attacks on residential areas. In Kyiv, a strike on a television tower left burning buildings and smoldering bodies in its wake.

Video exclusive to The Washington Post shows a chaotic scene as firefighters rush to extinguish the flames and civilians try to clear the area. (Video: Yuri Gruzinovand, Sergi Mykhalchuk, Luis Velarde/The Washington Post, Photo: Sergi Mykhalchuk/The Washington Post)

In Kharkiv, Russian bombs destroyed one of the city’s central squares.

A Russian missile attack targeting Kharkiv, Ukraine on March 1 destroyed downtown buildings in Freedom Square. (Video: The Washington Post)

Feb. 28: Continued fighting in Kharkiv and Kyiv

In the most intense shelling since the invasion began, Russia ramped up its attacks in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.

Videos posted on Feb. 28 show the bombardment of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, 25 miles from the Russian border. (Video: The Washington Post)

As the violence intensified, Post reporter Whitney Leaming documented her and her colleagues’ journey from the eastern city south to Dnipro.

The Washington Post's Whitney Leaming describes what it was like to travel from Kharkiv to Dnipro on Feb. 28 on roads now marked by checkpoints and armed men. (Video: Zoeann Murphy, Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post, Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Feb. 27: Ukrainians flee to neighboring countries

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians crossed into neighboring countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Those fleeing the escalating fighting waited in lines for as long as 36 hours. They streamed into Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova. Migration officials warned that they expect the numbers to increase as the war continues.

The Post spoke to Ukrainians waiting at the busiest border post between Ukraine and Poland. The line of cars stretched more than 20 miles.

At the busiest border post between Ukraine and Poland, the line of cars stretches for over 20 miles with families fleeing war. Their hearts are still at home. (Video: Jon Gerberg, Alice Li/The Washington Post)

Feb. 26: Preparing to fight back

The Ukrainian government urged all citizens to take up arms to repel Russia. As troops continued to close in on the capital, residents in Kyiv did what they could: Those not trained to fight on the front lines made molotov cocktails.

In Kharkiv, people angered by the ongoing invasion lined up to volunteer for the fight.

Ukraine's government has urged citizens to take up arms to repel the Russian invasion. Across the country, people from all walks of life are answering the call. (Video: Whitney Shefte, Whitney Leaming, James Cornsilk/The Washington Post, Photo: Heidi Levine for The Washington Post/The Washington Post)

In the western city of Lviv, which had not yet seen any fighting, residents used tires, concrete and sandbags to block the road from a possible Russian incursion.

Feb. 25: Fire in the capital

In a defiant video posted to Twitter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, surrounded by government officials, said he would continue to defend Kyiv.

“We are all here, defending our independence, our state,” he said. “It will continue to be so.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video Feb. 25 in which the leader said he was among those continuing to defend Kyiv. (Video: The Washington Post)

Earlier, the president had said in a video address that he was target “No. 1 for Russian forces.” The U.S. government offered to help him leave the capital, but Zelensky has repeatedly insisted he intends to stay.

The Russian attacks continued with shelling on Kyiv.

The Washington Post synchronized multiple videos showing explosions over Kyiv on Feb. 25. (Video: Twitter and Telegram)

A residential building was damaged, and civilians examined the destruction left behind.

Feb. 24: Russia invades

Russian forces drew nearer to Kyiv as military experts warned the capital could fall in days. Some Ukrainians, facing an uncertain future, decided to flee on buses and trains. Others hunkered down in train stations and bunkers as they braced for shelling.

Hundreds of people in the eastern city of Kharkiv sheltered inside a subway station on Feb. 24 as Russian troops advanced on the city. (Video: Whitney Leaming, Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post, Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Meanwhile, thousands of people protested Putin’s attacks on Ukraine in cities across Russia, a striking show of anger in a nation where spontaneous mass demonstrations are illegal and protesters can face fines and jail.

Feb. 24: Zelensky’s plea

As Russian troops continued to mass on the border, Zelensky pleaded for peace in a video address. Speaking directly to the Russian people, in their language, he warned that the Kremlin had ordered nearly 200,000 troops to enter his country.

In an emotional address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 24 that nearly 200,000 Russian troops were across the border in Russia. (Video: Reuters)

“If these forces attack us,” Zelensky warned, “if you attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. Not attack, defend.”

Feb. 21: Putin ramps up rhetoric

In a prerecorded speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the legitimacy of the breakaway territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as independent, ordering what he called “peacekeeping” troops into the region, only parts of which were controlled by pro-Moscow separatists. The screed rejected Ukraine’s legitimacy as an independent nation and foretold what would become an invasion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the West and referred to Ukraine as “a colony” in a televised address on Feb. 21. (Video: The Washington Post)