Late Thursday, the Ukrainian government reported that their military forces had recaptured a strategic airport situated outside Kyiv. The Antonov Airport would have been a vital Russian asset providing Moscow with a way to fly in more troops as well as military equipment into a city near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
American military experts say that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin chief goals in coming days is to take Kyiv, locate Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, and possibly murder him as well as the members of his family.
A team of CNN reporters were on location near the airport early Thursday. They said they observed Ukrainian troops working to push Russians away from the site. Prior to that, the airport and surrounding areas were being patrolled by Russian airborne troops.
The Ukrainian National Guard posted to social media a photo of three soldiers holding a Ukrainian flag filled with bullet holes. They are said to be the heroes of the skirmish.
The report of the recapture of the Antonov Airport in Hostomel came from Ukraine Armed Forces at 1 PM (Eastern time) Thursday afternoon.
Although word spread that Putin had described President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Prime Target 1 and his family as Prime Target 2, the embattled Ukrainian leader has refused to leave Kyiv. He spoke to the public via television and social media, and he has banned men between the ages of eighteen and sixty from leaving the Ukraine. The Ukraine Armed Forces also reported that they believe at least sixty Russian battalion troops have been deployed into the country of Ukraine. That is the equivalent of 30,000 to 60,000 troops on the ground.
During President Zelenskyy’s address to the Ukrainian people, he said that his reports told of at least 137 Ukrainians killed with 300 others injured in the initial attack on the country early Thursday morning.
The Ukraine Armed Forces reported “the enemy has an extremely low morale.” Some reports say that the soldiers were not initially told they were going in to attack the Ukraine, but that they were on a peacekeeping mission. This report has not been verified.
Russian President Vladimir Putin did say that he had sent his military into the Ukraine on a “special military operation.” When Putin took to the airwaves to speak to the Russian citizens earlier this week, he warned international allies of the Ukraine regarding possible interference, saying that there would be “consequences greater than you have faced in history.”
This comment was thought to be a warning to the United States and other Western allies of the Ukraine, including most member nations of NATO.
Early Thursday morning, Putin’s forces – which were approximately 190,000 troops – moved into the Ukraine via Crimea, Kharkiv, and Belarus. Kharkiv is another very large city in the Ukraine, and fighting in the area has been heated. American military experts had expected troops to enter through the Donbas region, an area where Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainians have fought since 2014, with skirmishes beginning shortly after Russian annexed the Crimea.
International officials expect Kyiv to fall some time over the weekend, and concerns over the safety of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy are growing. Russian troops have been observed in areas outside the capital city, and military experts believe the objective is to take the city as soon as possible. President Zelenskyy, however, has said that he will not leave and will fight for the country where he is.
Residents of the country attempted to flee shortly after the attack took place Thursday just before daylight. A major highway out of the country came to resemble a parking lot as citizens tried to get to safety. Residents who were unable to leave for reasons unknown took to sheltering in the city’s subway system, which is deep underground. They did so believing a nighttime barrage was inevitable.
A railway bridge near Kyiv is said to be damaged just outside of Kyiv. Other reports have Ukrainian troops blowing up bridges in an effort to hinder travel of Russian tanks, but this has not been verified.