KYIV, Ukraine — Early this morning Russia began a major military offensive against Ukraine. Russian missile attacks targeted key Ukrainian military sites in advance of a full-scale ground invasion from multiple directions, which remains underway.
Just after 5 a.m., wall-shaking concussions resounded through Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city and home to at least 3 million people. Nearly two hours later, air raid sirens sounded as the explosions continued at an irregular drumbeat between intervals of calm that lasted for several minutes. Across the city, civilians took cover in bomb shelters. Police cars patrolled the streets, announcing instructions over loudspeakers to seek immediate shelter.
The day remains overcast with a low cloud deck, obscuring visibility into the distance. No plumes of smoke are currently visible from Kyiv’s city center to denote where the heaviest damage was done.
— Jan Ki Baat (@jankibaat1) February 24, 2022
According to initial reports, Russian missile strikes and airstrikes hit military targets in Kyiv, as well as other key locations across the country such as Odesa and Kharkiv. The Russian attacks targeted airfields, including Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport and the Vasylkiv Air Base outside the city. Artillery barrages targeted Ukrainian units in the Donbas region. Ukrainian airspace remains closed to civilian air traffic.
As of this article’s penning at 11 a.m., the explosions have ceased in Kyiv. Jet noise is audible overhead; it is unclear what country’s aircraft are flying. Within Kyiv, defenses are being prepared. Soldiers are present throughout the city center.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ordered martial law and is urging Ukrainians to stay calm.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine declared martial law in the country because of the Russian invasion.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 24, 2022
Early Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a so-called special military operation in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. However, signaling the much broader scope of Russia’s military operation than the Donbas territories, Putin also said that the larger objective of today’s military action is the “demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine.”
Prior to Thursday morning’s attack, many analysts projected that one of Russia’s possible objectives would be to overthrow Ukraine’s government.
As the explosions reverberated in Kyiv’s city center Thursday morning, long lines of cars began to accumulate on Kyiv’s periphery as civilians fled the city en masse. City officials urged civilians to evacuate by train to avoid being stuck on the road in case bombing resumed.
The scene in Ukraine, as cars are trying to flee the area. pic.twitter.com/lUlB4jjfQP
— Doug Rush (@TheDougRush) February 24, 2022
After several hours of attacks the pace of explosions slowed to a lull and Kyiv’s streets resumed an air of outward calm. Traffic continues to flow in the city center. Public transportation, including buses and the metro, continue to operate. Civilians are still walking on the sidewalks, and Uber ride services continue to function.
Power and other utilities continue to work as normal. So, too, does internet service and cellular communications. Many analysts predicted a massive electronic warfare attack to knock out all communications and utilities, but so far that eventuality has not come to fruition. With the ground invasion still to bear itself out, the overall level of disruption to civilian life is likely to escalate.
Russian ground forces have also entered Ukrainian territory from Russia and Crimea. Armored units have also reportedly entered Ukraine from Belarus and are moving toward the capital city of Kyiv. Russian forces claim to have met no resistance from Ukrainian Border Guard units at the Belarus border. Belarusian military units reportedly joined the Russian advance across Ukraine’s border.
Russian armor is moving into Ukraine from Crimea, according to Ukraine border service pic.twitter.com/yV3guxqeSG
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) February 24, 2022
Videos purport to show tanks passing through a Ukrainian border checkpoint at Senkivka, where Ukraine shares a three-way border with Russia and Belarus.
The road to Kyiv from Senkivka is paved and in good condition and four lanes wide in places. Driving the speed limit in a civilian automobile, it’s about a four-hour drive.
As Russian ground forces advance toward Ukraine’s capital, and the missile strikes have let up for the moment, there is a relative calm in Kyiv. It remains to be seen whether Russian tanks will attempt to enter the city proper or encircle the city and demand Zelenskyy’s surrender.
A wounded woman is seen after airstrikes hit an apartment complex in Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine. https://t.co/Pl80tMp7QO
📸: Wolfgang Schwan pic.twitter.com/BJrhDZCaAn
— Anadolu Images (@anadoluimages) February 24, 2022
This morning, missile strikes were likely a pre-assault operation before the main bulk of the Russian land invasion force, which, depending on the level of resistance encountered on the way to Kyiv, could be at the city’s gates by sometime today.
As of this article’s publication, Ukraine’s armed forces claim to have downed five Russian warplanes and one helicopter. The Russian military claims to have destroyed Ukraine’s air defense network.