Europe 2022: Russian invasion of Ukraine
While the UK was negotiating its exit from the European Union, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The virus had a major impact on world affairs in 2020, with Europe being one of the continents hardest hit. The pandemic would continue into 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, escalating the simmering crisis between the two countries into full-scale war.
24 Jan 2020–pres. COVID-19 in Europe▲
On 24 January 2020 the first case of the COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed in Europe in Bordeaux, France, with many other cases almost immediately reported across the continent. By mid-March, with many stricken and over 250 million people in lockdown, Europe had displaced China as the active center of the pandemic. European companies were, however, world-leaders in vaccine production and by late 2020 mass vaccination was underway for the general public, although these measures soon had to compete with new COVID variants. By mid-January 2023, of the worst-affected countries, the UK had over 202,100 deaths, Italy 185,900, Germany 163,700, France 163,300, Poland 118,600, Spain 117,700, Romania 67,400, Hungary 48,500, Czechia 42,200, Bulgaria 38,100, Greece 34,700, Belgium 33,400, Portugal 25,800, the Netherlands 22,900, and Sweden 22,600.
27 Mar 2020 Adriatic Charter: North Macedonia▲
In 1999 the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia commenced its NATO Membership Action Plan but, despite joining the Vilnius Group in 2000 and the Adriatic Charter in 2004, its attempts at NATO membership were blocked by Greece, which considered the name ‘Macedonia’ as implying territorial aspirations to the Greek province of Macedonia. This naming dispute was resolved by the Prespa Agreement of 2018, in which Macedonia agreed to change its name to North Macedonia. With its new name in place, North Macedonia was formally accepted into NATO in March 2020.
27 Sep–10 Nov 2020 Second Nagorno-Karabakh War▲
In late September 2020 clashes broke out along the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact, which had been established after Armenia’s occupation of southwest Azerbaijan in support of the breakaway state of Artsakh in 1994. Supported by Turkey, the Azerbaijanis made substantial gains, particularly in the south where they captured Shusha, the second-largest city in Nagorno-Karabakh, on 8 November. Two days later, a Russian-brokered ceasefire was agreed, whereby Nagorno-Karbakh was divided along the ceasefire line and Armenia withdrew from all Azerbaijani territory it had occupied outside Nagorno-Karabakh.
24 Feb 2022–pres. Russian invasion of Ukraine▲
On 24 February 2022, after months of military buildup and rising tensions, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine from Belarus, mainland Russia, the Donbas republics, and Crimea. The largest military assault on a European state since World War II, the invasion was internationally condemned and prompted massive sanctions on Russia by the United States and its allies. As a result of the invasion, millions of Ukrainians fled their homes, with over 3.6 million Ukrainians leaving the country.
24 Feb–20 May 2022 Siege of Mariupol▲
In late February 2022 the Russian Armed Forces and Donetsk People’s Militia began their attack on the important Ukrainian port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov. The battle soon turned into a prolonged siege, which leveled at least 90% of the city and saw the deaths of as many as 25,000 civilians, and it was not until 20 May that the last Ukrainian defenders surrendered at the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works. After the victory Mariupol became part of the Donetsk People’s Republic, until the republic itself was annexed to Russia in September.
25 Feb–2 Apr 2022 Battle of Kyiv▲
In late February 2022 the Russian Armed Forces reached the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, capturing key areas to the north and west of the city. However, the Russian offensive—weakened by poor planning and logistics—soon stalled in the face strong Ukrainian resistance and within a month the Ukrainian Ground Forces were mounting successful counterattacks. In response, Russia, declaring that it would scale down military activity in the area, promptly abandoned the battle by withdrawing all of its troops from the Kyiv region for operations elsewhere.