Russia Attacks Ukraine, Targets Key Military Sites as Ground Forces Move In

February 24, 2022Nolan Peterson

A Russian T-90 tank in September 2016. Wikimedia Commons photo.

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

Read Next: With Ukraine’s Reserves Activated, Combat Veterans Face Their Demons Again

Nolan Peterson
Nolan Peterson
Nolan Peterson is a senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine and the author of Why Soldiers Miss War. A former US Air Force special operations pilot and a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Nolan is now a conflict journalist and author whose adventures have taken him to all seven continents. In addition to his memoirs, Nolan has published two fiction collections. He lives in Kyiv, Ukraine, with his wife, Lilya.
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