Ukraine Update 24 February 2022 (AM)

Good morning. As anticipated, Russian military operations against Ukraine commenced around 0500 hours Kiev time today. Following a televised speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he announced Russia was undertaking a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” the country under the pretense that Russia was defending itself, the first attacks began. In the opening hours, the fog of war was thick. A constant stream of reports were being broadcast from dozens of sources. Predictably, most of these ended up being false or deliberate disinformation. But it took time to separate the good, confirmable information from the less reliable or outright false reports crowding social media and other outlets. In light of this, I decided not to post an update around midnight since solid information was in such short supply.

For now, here’s a brief summary of military events of the past ten hours or so. I’ll cover political events in the early afternoon update

Military

-Russia commenced operations around 0500 Kiev time this morning. The first phase of the day’s operations were performed with textbook precision and timing. Airstrikes and missile attacks were conducted against Ukrainian military targets. Primarily, airfields, air defense headquarters and depots of various types were targeted in the first attacks. The Russian military claims its forces have destroyed the Ukrainian air defense system.

-Rumors of Russian amphibious landings at Odessa and Mariupol early in the morning appear to have been false, although there are reports of heavy fighting outside of Mariupol now and the live webcams that were broadcasting regularly from the city center have gone off the air. Odessa has been struck by a cruise missile attack, according to sources I consider reliable. However, the exact location of the attack remains unverified. Web cameras from various parts of that city are active and show no indications of fires, smoke or damage visible.

-A Russian airmobile attack (heliborne troops) has captured Antonov International Airport (aka Hostemel Airport) west of Kiev. Video was captured of Russian Mi-17 and Mi-8 helicopters flying low over Hostomel. Ukrainian interior ministry officials confirm the attack. Again, this is an operation directly out of the textbook. Russian doctrine calls for airmobile forces to be inserted deep into the enemy’s rear area to capture airfields, bridges and other vital objectives in the opening hours of a war. In this case at least, the operation appears to have been pulled off with a high degree of success.

-NATO military forces in Eastern Europe have increased their alert levels and adopted a defensive posture in view of the fighting having begun in Ukraine.

-Russian forces are entering Ukrainian territory from the east, north and south. Their progress on the ground is unknown at the moment, but its safe to assume that, at least for the prongs coming out of Belarus and Crimea, that Kiev is their objective.

I’ll try to get the next update out by 1 PM at the latest. –Mike

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