At dawn, taking advantage of the awakening of the cities and the first light of day. It was the moment chosen by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to give the order to invade by land, sea and air Ukraine, a “special military operation”, as he has defined it in a television speech. It was six in the morning in Moscow, an hour less in Kiev. After a day of intense clashes, there was fighting at the Hostomel military airfield, located just 40 kilometers from Kiev, the capital. A Ukrainian presidential adviser said the airfield has already fallen into the hands of Russian forces.
“Anyone who tries to interfere or even threaten our country, our people, must know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will bring them consequences that they have never experienced before in history,” the Kremlin leader said when announcing the assault. massive as a warning to the expected condemnations of the international communitywhich have not been long in coming while preparing new sanctions against Moscow “We are ready for anything that happens,” Putin added.
The war offensive has started simultaneously on several fronts, including the capital, Kiev, with 3 million inhabitants. The imminent air raid warning sirens have preceded the first explosions, that have forced many people to seek refuge in subway stations. Thousands of cars have collapsed the main roads out of the city. Neighboring countries such as Poland and Moldova are preparing to host large numbers of refugees.
“It is a large-scale attack from multiple directions,” the Kiev government warned as the first explosions were recorded. «It is the most flagrant act of aggression in Europe since World War II.“, has added. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has declared martial law. “We will give weapons to all those who want to defend their country. We will defend Ukraine from the squares of our cities», announced the president, who at night signed the decree of general mobilization of the population.
Fighting in Chernobyl
The Russian bombardment has also reached Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, as well as Mariupol, Dnipro and Odessa, among other locations. From east to west and from north to south of the country explosions have been recorded in up to 10 regions of the country. The first reports put 40 dead soldiers and dozens of civilians, according to Kiev, which also assured that his forces had killed fifty Russian soldiers, shot down two helicopters and seven fighter planes, information that could not be verified. According to Europa Press, the president of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenski, has confirmed the death of 137 people and 316 injured on the Ukrainian side at the end of the first day since the Russian invasion. This has been transferred by the Ukrainian president in a speech published on his Telegram channel, where he has also detailed that ten of the casualties are officers of the Ukrainian Army, according to the Russian agency Sputnik. On the other hand, Zelensky has approved a military mobilization order valid for 90 days, which provides for the recruitment of reservists to fight against Russian troops. Likewise, martial law has been approved by virtue of which Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 will not be able to leave the country, according to the UNIAN agency.
As the day progressed, the Ukrainian authorities denounced the entry of Russian ground troops and armor from Belarus through the border point with Vilcha in an attempt to gain control of the old Chernobyl nuclear power plant, located just 130 kilometers from the Ukrainian capital, according to Zelensky. Russian soldiers managed to seize the facilities. The fighting put at risk the nuclear reactor that rests lined with cement since 1986. More worrying was the landing on board of 20 helicopters of Russian soldiers in the airport of the city of Hostomel, just 35 kilometers from Kiev, which also fell into the hands of the Russian Army.
In recent months the Kremlin has been deploying military equipment and troops, up to 190,000 troops according to US estimateson the borders of Ukraine, including about 30,000 in Belarus.
live on @CNN air- Matthew Chance hears loud explosions in the Capital City of Kyiv. Unclear where they came from- but they happened just minutes after Putin effectively declared war on Ukraine. Moments later Chance put a flack jacket on live on the air. pic.twitter.com/EQgsKPzlJQ
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) February 24, 2022
The Russian Ministry of Defense has assured that the objective of the attack is not cities but military infrastructures, such as barracks or arsenals, as well as airfields, to disable the Ukrainian air forces, with the use of «high-precision weapons». “Nothing threatens the civilian population,” Moscow has said. Russia’s first war report put 70 Ukrainian military facilities destroyed, including a dozen airfields and a naval base.
In his speech before the massive assault, Putin reiterated his usual accusations against the Kiev government, which he accuses of “persecution and genocide” of the Russian-speaking population of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk regions, whose independence he recognized on Monday. The Kremlin leader said the “goal” of military action is “demilitarization and denazification” from Ukraine. Putin, who claims that the Ukrainian government is in the hands of the extreme right, promised to “bring to justice those who have committed multiple bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation.”
The United States government, for its part, said yesterday that the Russian attack is the beginning of “a large-scale invasion” that “has all the potential to be very bloody and costly and have a major impact on Europe’s securitypossibly for a long time.” reports from New York Idoya Noain.
In a media briefing, a senior Defense Department official noted that Russia is not yet using “for the moment” the majority of its military assets that it has been deploying together with Ukraine». He also assured that the attacks registered in the first hours are “the initial phases” of the invasion.
The same source pointed out that the military operation is «clearly designed to take population centers». Referring to Kiev, the Pentagon source stated that Russia has “every intention to basically behead the (Ukrainian) government and install its own method of government.”