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Ukraine in maps: Tracking the war with Russia

In Europe
February 21, 2024

Fighting has been raging in Ukraine for two years since Russia’s invasion, with Moscow’s forces making an apparent breakthrough this week after months of virtual stalemate.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from the eastern town of Avdiivka in Russia’s biggest victory since the fall of Bakhmut in May last year

  • Russia has also been launching attacks around villages in the southern Zaporizhzhia region where Ukraine made some gains during its 2023 counter-offensive

  • Ukraine has continued its attacks on the Russian fleet in the Black Sea – most recently claiming to have sunk the amphibious ship, the Caesar Kunikov, off the coast of Russian-occupied Crimea


Russian forces take Avdiivka

Ukraine has withdrawn its troops from Avdiivka – a key eastern town besieged by Russian forces for months – and the nearby coke factory which allowed Kyiv to resupply its forces there.

Since last October, Moscow has launched wave after wave of attacks towards the town – which would have been a possible gateway for Ukraine to reach the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk.

Map showing how Russian forces have advanced around Avdiivka since October

Map showing how Russian forces have advanced around Avdiivka since October

Avdiivka has been a battlefield town since 2014, when Russian-backed fighters seized large swathes of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Almost all of Avdiivka’s pre-war population of more than 30,000 people have left and the town itself is almost completely destroyed.

Its fall marks the biggest change on the more than 1,000km-long (620-mile) front line since Russian troops seized the nearby town of Bakhmut in May 2023. Bakhmut remains a key flash point along the front line along with the areas around Robotyne and Krynky further south.

Map showing the front line and highlighting Avdiivka, Bakhmut, Robotyne and Krynky

Map showing the front line and highlighting Avdiivka, Bakhmut, Robotyne and Krynky

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has hailed it as an “important victory” – although the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it was “likely that Russian forces lack the combat effectiveness to immediately exploit the capture of Avdiivka”.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the decision to withdraw was taken to save soldiers’ lives and blamed faltering Western weapons supplies.

Ukraine is critically dependent on weapons supplies from the US and other Western allies to keep fighting Russia – a much bigger military force with an abundance of artillery ammunition.

Battle for Bakhmut

Bakhmut has endured some of the heaviest fighting of the war and, although Ukraine gained some ground in the surrounding areas over the summer, recent assessments by US-based analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) suggest Russian forces have made advances around the city.

Map showing areas of control around Bakhmut

Map showing areas of control around Bakhmut

Flashpoints in the south

Russia has also made slow progress further south near the villages of Robotyne and Verbove in Zaporizhzhia – an area where Ukraine had seen some success during its counter-offensive in 2023.

When Ukraine retook Robotyne in August it was hoped that its forces would be able to cut the land corridor to Crimea, making Moscow’s supply lines more complicated.

Map showing areas of control around Robotyne

Map showing areas of control around Robotyne

Earlier this week Ukrainian commanders said Russian forces had launched multiple attacks on their positions in the area but insisted they had been repelled.

However, the ISW said geolocated footage indicated Russian forces had recently advanced to the western and southern outskirts of the village while Russian military bloggers were claiming even further progress.

Russia also appears to have retaken some territory on the eastern bank of the Dnipro river in the area around the village of Krynky, about 30km (19 miles) from the city of Kherson.

Map showing areas of control around Krynky and Kherson

Map showing areas of control around Krynky and Kherson

Ukraine first announced it had made a breakthrough in Krynky in mid-November – the river had separated Ukrainian and Russian forces since Moscow’s troops withdrew from Kherson a year ago.

It was hoped Ukraine might be able to use it as a base to begin transferring armoured vehicles and air defence systems across the river, putting it a step closer to breaking through to Crimea, the peninsula illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed on Tuesday that Russian forces had retaken Krynky but the ISW said open-source visual evidence and Ukrainian and Russian reporting suggested that Ukrainian forces still had a limited foothold in the area.

Attacks on Russia’s fleet

Meanwhile, Ukraine has maintained its attacks on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, including the apparent sinking of the amphibious ship, the Caesar Kunikov, off the coast of Crimea.

Ukraine’s intelligence directorate released video of what it said were Magura V5 sea drones striking the ship near the town of Alupka.

Crimea map

Crimea map

There was no confirmation from Russia’s navy that the Caesar Kunikov had been sunk in the Black Sea, merely that six Ukrainian drones had been destroyed. The Kremlin has also refused to comment on the incident.

However, the UK MoD notes it would be third such vessel, which is used to provide logistical support to the fleet and the wider war effort in Ukraine, to be destroyed in Ukrainian strikes.

“Ukraine’s ingenuity has highly likely deterred Russia from operating freely in the western Black Sea and enabled Ukraine to seize the maritime momentum from Russia,” it adds.

Two days later pro-Russian military bloggers reported that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet Admiral Viktor Sokolov had been replaced by Vice-Admiral Sergei Pinchuka.

They speculated that this may have been as a result of Ukraine’s successes, although it is possible that Sokolov was killed in a strike on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol in September.

Ukraine has also succeeded in shooting down several Russian planes in recent weeks – including an Su-34 and an Su-35S in eastern Ukraine on Monday.

Two years of fighting

Russia’s invasion began with dozens of missile strikes on cities all over Ukraine before dawn on 24 February 2022.

Russian ground troops moved in quickly and within a few weeks were in control of large areas of Ukraine and had advanced to the suburbs of Kyiv.

Russian forces were bombarding Kharkiv, and they had taken territory in the east and south as far as Kherson, and surrounded the port city of Mariupol.

Four maps showing how the situation has changed on the ground since Russia's invasion.

Four maps showing how the situation has changed on the ground since Russia’s invasion.

But they hit very strong Ukrainian resistance almost everywhere and faced serious logistical problems with poorly motivated Russian troops suffering shortages of food, water and ammunition.

Ukrainian forces were also quick to deploy Western supplied arms such as the Nlaw anti-tank system, which proved highly effective against the Russian advance.

By October 2022, the picture had changed dramatically and having failed to take Kyiv, Russia withdrew completely from the north. Since then, little has changed on the ground.

By Dominic Bailey, Mike Hills, Paul Sargeant, Tural Ahmedzade, Chris Clayton, Kady Wardell, Mark Bryson, Sana Dionysiou, Gerry Fletcher, Kate Gaynor, Filipa Silverio and Erwan Rivault


About these maps

To indicate which parts of Ukraine are under control by Russian troops we are using daily assessments published by the Institute for the Study of War with the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project. To show key areas where advances are taking place we are also using updates from the UK Ministry of Defence and BBC research.

The situation in Ukraine is often fast moving and it is likely there will be times when there have been changes not reflected in the maps.

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