Russia has launched a full-fledged blitzkrieg trying to seize Ukrainian airports to fly in more paratroopers and go for Kiev, but it meets with fierce armed resistance — and international condemnation.
Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian border at multiple points on Thursday, Feb. 24, at about 4:30 a.m. local time (Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. EST) and invaded the country from three sides, from the peninsula of Crimea in the south to Kherson, from Belarus in the north toward Kiev, and from the northeast to Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
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Especially around Ukraine’s significant airports, especially Antonov Airport, also known as Gostomel Airport, an important international cargo airport, located 15 miles (25 kilometers) southwest of Kiev’s city center heavy clashes were reported.
Eyewitnesses capture footage of the conflict
Apparently, the Russians try to take control of the major airports and fly in airborne forces to take over the capital Kiev and other bigger cities like Kharkov, Odessa, Kherson, and Mariupol.
“#Russia is attempting to drop paratroopers into Gostomel airport near Kyiv #Ukraine using helicopters. This is one of the most daring aspects of Russia’s invasion so far. They are trying to seize the capital and decapitate the country,” a Twitter user going by the name Ukraine Reporter remarked.
Western media initially reported Russian successes in securing Gostomel airport.
CNN reporter Matthew Chance reported at 3:37 p.m.: “They’ve allowed us to come in and be with them as they defend the perimeter of this airbase, where the helicopter-borne troops were landed in the early hours of the morning to make and perform an air bridge to allow for more troops to come in.”
OSINT Ukraine, an account tracking developments in the conflict, remarked on Twitter: “According to Russian sources, Melitopol came under Russian control, and the military is already on its outskirts in the direction of Zaporizhzhia.”
The OSINT Ukraine account was removed by Twitter as of today stating “This Tweet is from a suspended account.” As to why the account has been suspended, no one knows.
The Ukrainians later contested Russian control of the airport, which will be critical to landing more forces west of the Dnieper river — and thus securing Russia’s advance on Kyiv and beyond.
The nuclear power plant Chernobyl, which was closed down after suffering a catastrophic meltdown in 1986, was also captured by the Russians on their way to Kyiv.
Mutual damage reported
Both sides in the conflict claimed to have inflicted severe casualties on the opponent. Ukrainian officials claimed their troops had taken down six or seven warplanes, several helicopters, and demolished more than 10 tanks, RT reported.
Ukraine News Today reported on Twitter that at least one Ukrainian military airplane had been hit. Five people reportedly died.
“A Russian Ka-52 helicopter which was shot down by Ukrainian air defense today. One pilot reportedly taken prisoner,” OSINT reported.
International pressure mounts against Russia
The G7, currently chaired by the German government, issued a joint statement after a virtual leaders’ meeting Thursday, announcing “severe and coordinated economic and financial sanctions.”
It summoned “all partners and members of the international community to condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms, to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine, and raise their voice against this blatant violation of the fundamental principles of international peace and security.”
Hundreds of protesters worldwide took to the streets in cities like London and Prague to demonstrate for peace and decry the violence. Large anti-war demonstrations in St. Petersburg and Moscow were suppressed by the Russian riot police.
Meanwhile, NATO is transporting troops, artillery, and war aircraft to members Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as promised this week by U.S. President Joe Biden in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.