Images show Russian army 27 km from centre of Kyiv
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The early morning hours of February 24, the Russian army launched its offensive on Ukraine. The extent of the attacks inside Ukraine was unclear for much of the day, both on the internet and on the ground. Less than 24 hours later, Russian soldiers were filmed 27 kilometres from the centre of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Russia’s initial strikes, carried out with cruise and ballistic missiles, mainly targeted Ukrainian airports and military sites, such as radar facilities and air-defence installations.
While Russian forces attacked Ukraine from the east and northeast, the most direct attack took place near Kyiv. By late morning, Russian Mi-8 transport helicopters were seen near the Antonov cargo airport in Hostomel, a suburb on the northwest outskirts of the capital.
A large-scale air assault
We were able to authenticate videos published online, including one posted at 1:15 pm local time on Telegram. It shows Russian Mi-8 transport helicopters and KA-52 ground attack helicopters flying in unison with two plumes of smoke in the background.
At one point in the video, a factory chimney becomes visible. We were able to confirm the exact location by using a Wikimapia collaborative map: it is the Vetropack glass factory in Hostomel (exact location here).
Another video shows helicopters attacking the same location, near Hostomel. Once again, Russian Mi-8s (which can carry soldiers) arrived in groups, heading towards the Antonov airport.
The Centre for Information Resilience identified the exact location where the video was shot, just three kilometres east of the airport.
🇷🇺🇺🇦 ⚡️Another video from Gostomel, about 30 Russian helicopters moving forward pic.twitter.com/dHERgT3CXI— Dean O'Brien (@DeanoBeano1) February 24, 2022
Ukrainian army retaliates
In another video posted at 1:06 pm on Telegram, Russian helicopters (once again Mi-8s) cross a dam on a river. We geolocated the video and found that it was shot near the Dnieper river, located 20 km from Antonov airport and 10 km north of Kyiv.
As the Russian helicopters approached the shore, the Ukrainian army fired 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 missiles (in green below). None of the helicopters is shot down in the video.
On the ground: Russian forces take control of airbase near Kyiv
Later in the afternoon, a CNN team filmed Russian soldiers taking control of the Antonov airport, as they disembarked at the entrance. These images seem to confirm that the Russian army has succeeded in breaking through to the outskirts of Kyiv in less than a day.
CNN's Matthew Chance reports from an airbase outside the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, where Russian airborne troops are engaged in a fire fight with the Ukrainian military https://t.co/TaPomIUP26 pic.twitter.com/rSye7nzmbi— CNN (@CNN) February 24, 2022
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said Thursday that Ukrainian forces had shot down three of 34 Russian helicopters attacking the Antonov airport.
The Ukrainian army is continuing to fight. A U.S. defence official was quoted as saying on Thursday night that "it's their country they're fighting for."