On Thursday morning Russia began its long-planned invasion of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he has decided to carry out a special military operation in Ukraine. Russian troops are conducting what appears to be a three-pronged attack from the North, East, and South.
In the very first moments of the invasion, Russia launched cruise and ballistic missiles at airfields and military headquarters across Ukraine in an attempt to suppress anti-aircraft defenses and take out key military installations and the Ukrainian leadership.
The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that it had destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities, including 11 airports.
Air assault in Kyiv
Russian troops stationed in Belarus—approximately 200 miles to the North—conducted an air assault at the Hostomel military airport that is located close to Kyiv. By capturing the airport with a surprise attack, the Russian military could land transport aircraft and mechanized infantry to strike Kyiv.
In the previous days, Ukrainians had put tractors and other obstacles on the runways of major civilian airports to prevent a Russian surprise air assault.
Footage from the air assault shows dozens of Russian Mi-8AMTSh transport helicopters, protected by Ka-52 attack helicopters, flying low as they are approaching the Ukrainian airport. Ukrainian troops on the ground are firing anti-aircraft missiles at the Russian helicopters, which they deployed a sea of flares to avoid getting hit. However, the Ukrainian military and independent reports suggest that between one to three Russian helicopters were shot down.
Russia’s Ground Assault in Kharkiv
Russian troops have also attacked Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, with missiles and artillery in preparation for a ground assault.
Reports and footage from the ground show several Russian armored personnel carriers destroyed on the highway toward Kharkiv. The fighting in the region is still ongoing, and Kharkiv is still in Ukrainian hands.
Russia Starts Maritime Assault in Odessa
On Thursday morning, Russian naval forces landed near Odessa and attacked the city.
At least 40 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and several more wounded, according to the Ukrainian government. But the Ukrainian military is fighting back with reports and footage of destroyed Russian T-80 tanks and Ka-52 attack helicopters. The Ukrainian president has requested a full mobilization of the Ukrainian population.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.