On Wednesday evening, the Russian army launched its attack on Ukraine. The scale of attacks inside Ukraine has been unclear all day, both on the Internet and on the ground. Less than 24 hours later, Russian soldiers were photographed 27 kilometers from the center of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
The initial Russian strikes, carried out with cruise and ballistic missiles, mainly targeted Ukrainian airfields and military sites, such as radar and air defense facilities.
While Russian forces attacked Ukraine from the east and northeast, the most direct attack took place near Kiev. Late this morning, Russian Mi-8 transport helicopters were seen near the Antonov Cargo Airport in Hostomil, a suburb of the northwestern suburbs of the capital.
Large-scale aerial attack We were able to document videos posted online, including one posted at 1:15pm local time on Telegram. The photo shows Russian Mi-8 transport helicopters and KA-52 ground attack helicopters flying in unison with two plumes of smoke in the background.
Russian Mi-8 transport helicopters (red) and the KA-52 ground attack helicopter (blue). Thursday, February 24, 2022, near Kiev. © Telegram At one stage of the video, a factory chimney is shown. We were able to confirm the exact location using this collaborative Wikimapia map: it’s Hostomel’s Vetropack glass plant (exact location here).
Comparison points for the plant: in smoked blue, in barn orange. Thursday, February 24, 2022, Hostmail. © Left: Telegram / Right: Wikimapia Another video showing helicopters attacking the same location near Hostomel. Once again, Russian Mi-8s (which can carry soldiers) arrived in groups heading towards Antonov Airport.
The Information Resilience Center identified the exact location where the video was filmed, just three kilometers east of the airport.
Ukrainian military takes revenge In another video posted at 1:06pm on Telegram, Russian helicopters (again Mi-8s) cross a dam on a river. We geolocated the video and found that it was filmed near the Dnieper River, 20 kilometers from Antonov Airport and 10 kilometers north of Kiev.
Point of comparison between the two sites: in red, the dam, in the background we can see the other bank. © Left: Google Earth Pro/Right: Telegram As Russian helicopters approached shore, the Ukrainian military launched an anti-aircraft missile (in red below) from the west bank of the river. To defend themselves, the Russians deploy flares as a countermeasure to deflect the missile’s trajectory (in green below). None of the helicopters were shot down in the video.
In red, an anti-aircraft missile fired by the Ukrainian army. In green, self-defense booby traps for Russian helicopters. © Telegram on the ground: Russian forces take control of an air base near Kiel Later in the afternoon, a CNN team filmed Russian soldiers taking control of Antonov Airport as they disembarked at the entrance. These images seem to confirm that the Russian army succeeded in penetrating the outskirts of Kiev in less than a day.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said, on Thursday, that Ukrainian forces shot down three out of 34 Russian helicopters that attacked Antonov Airport.
The Ukrainian army continues to fight. A US Defense Department official was quoted as saying Thursday night that “their country is fighting for it.”