Russia attacks Ukraine

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 9:58 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022
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1:32 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

WATCH: Tanks enter Ukraine via Belarus border

Livestream video shows tanks and other armored vehicles entering Ukraine through a border crossing with Belarus.

The video was taken at the Senkivka, Urkaine crossing with Veselovka, Belarus, shot around 6:48 a.m. local time.

The US Department of Defense is tracking the reported incursion of troops from Belarus into Ukraine, a US defense official said Thursday.  

It was not clear if the troops were only Russian or also Belarusian, the source said.

Watch the video:

1:27 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Ukrainian foreign minister: "Ukraine will defend itself. Ukraine will win"

In a tweet on Thursday morning, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba appealed to "Ukrainians around the globe" to speak up and urge action from their leaders.

"Putin attacked, but no one is running away," he wrote. "Army, diplomats, everyone is working. Ukraine fights. Ukraine will defend itself. Ukraine will win."

"Share the truth about Putin’s invasion in your countries and call on governments to act immediately," he said.

1:29 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Kyiv has woken up to a new reality

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova in Kyiv

The first bangs came at just after 5 a.m. on Thursday, putting a definite end to any speculation about what Russian President Vladimir Putin intended to do.  

Just minutes before, Putin announced he was ordering military operation in Ukraine. Now, the residents of Kyiv could hear the consequences first hand. 

The explosions were coming from some distance away from the city center, but were clearly audible across the Ukrainian capital, the deep noise piercing through the quiet early morning.

Kyiv residents have been told stay at home and pack a bag with necessities, in case they need to leave abruptly. 

(Ivana Kottasova/CNN)
(Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

Across the city, red arrows painted on walls indicate the locations of the nearest bomb shelters. The city first put them up after the war broke up in east of the country in 2014, but they were recently repainted again, so that they are unmissable. 

At 6:18 a.m., two hours before the school day would usually get underway, parents of children attending the Ivan Franko school in the heart of Kyiv received a message informing them kids must stay at home on Thursday. Classes are moving online, but will continue.  

Then, just after the sun came up, at 7 a.m., the air raid sirens went off for the first time. 

While the streets within the city centre were calm and quiet, with hardly anyone walking around, the highways heading away from Kyiv were a lot busier than normal with heavy traffic heading northwest.

1:19 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Ukraine armed forces say 5 Russian aircraft and a helicopter shot down

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has claimed five Russian aircraft and a helicopter were shot down early Thursday, as Russian forces attacked Ukraine.

The Russian military has denied the claims, state news agency TASS reported on Thursday.

1:14 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Russian attack was consistent with US intelligence forecast, US senators say

From CNN's Zachary Cohen and Lauren Fox

US senators have said the unfolding attack in Ukraine is in line with intelligence briefings they received about what to expect from a Russian invasion.

In a series of tweets, Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that Russia was launching a “full scale and comprehensive military assault throughout Ukraine.”

The attack involved “airborne and amphibious landings, missile strikes from air, ground and naval forces, electronic and cyber attacks and a large ground force to occupy a large swarth of territory," Rubio said.

He added that Russian airborne forces are also working to “take control of the airport in Kyiv (so) they can fly in forces to occupy the (capital) city." A source familiar with the matter said the tweets were based on US intelligence being shared with Intelligence Committee members.

Congress briefed on attack: As the Russian attack escalated late Wednesday, Sen. Mark Warner, the Senate Intelligence chairman, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, spoke with CIA Director William Burns, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Sen. Ben Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN that senators would be briefed on the invasion by the White House Thursday.

“A lot of what we’re seeing happening in regards to the apparent air attacks on the defense infrastructure of Ukraine is all part of what was expected we would see,” Cardin said. “There is no justification for it. I can tell you there’ll be strong bipartisan support in the United States Senate and Congress for the strongest possible reaction by the United States and our allies.”
1:07 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Airports in southern Russia have restricted operations, aviation authority says

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow

Several Russian airports have restricted operations in relation to the ongoing situation in Ukraine, according to a statement from Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsia.

“In contraction with the difficult situation around Ukraine, from the 24th of February at 3.45am Moscow time, flights in a number of airports in the South of Russia have been suspended," the statement read.

The restrictions will be in effect until March 2, according to the aviation authorities.

Flights are suspended at airports in:

  • Rostov, Krasnodar, Anapa, Gelendzhik, Elista, Stavropol, Belgorod, Bryansk, Oryol, Kursk, Voronezh and Simferopol, Crimea.
"The aviation authorities of Russia strongly recommend that passengers on upcoming flights and those who are meeting flights go to those airports," the statement read. "All changes in the schedule of airports and airlines should be clarified on the official websites of airports and airlines, including social networks."
2:31 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Mayor of Kharkiv in Ukraine warns citizens not to leave their homes

The mayor of Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, has urged citizens to stay home as explosions and sounds of artillery are reported across the country.

"Please do not leave your homes today. Due to the complicated situation, schools, kindergartens and other institutions do not work today — until the situation becomes clearer," Mayor Igor Terekhov said in a Facebook post on Thursday morning.

"At the same time, public transport works as usual. I will keep you informed of what is happening and the actions of city authorities throughout the day.”

Elsewhere in Ukraine: The national capital Kyiv and the western city of Lviv have both sounded air raid sirens — but the mood is still "remarkably calm" on the ground, according to CNN reporters on the ground. It's about 8 a.m. there, with what looks like normal morning traffic as people head to work.

This post has been updated to more accurately describe Lviv.

12:56 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Pentagon is tracking reported incursion of troops from Belarus into Ukraine, source says

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis

The US Department of Defense is tracking the reported incursion of troops from Belarus into Ukraine, a US defense official said Thursday.  

It was not clear if the troops were only Russian or also Belarusian, the source said.

Some context: Through a livestream video, CNN witnessed troops atop a column of military vehicles entering Ukraine from a border crossing with Belarus at about 6:48 a.m. local time Thursday.

The livestream video was taken at the Senkivka, Ukraine, crossing with Veselovka, Belarus.

In recent weeks, Russia has amassed a significant number of troops, vehicles and tanks in Belarus near the border with Ukraine. During that time, the two countries have held joint military exercises across the countries, and near the Belarus-Ukrainian border.

Early Thursday, the Ukrainian state border service said the country was attacked through multiple borders, including Belarus.

12:53 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

CNN team hears air raid sirens in Lviv

CNN reporters in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine, heard sustained air raid sirens just before 7:45 a.m. local time (12:45 a.m. ET).

Reporters in the country's capital of Kyiv also heard air raid sirens earlier Thursday morning.

Earlier this week, some diplomats relocated from Kyiv to Lviv as fears grew that a Russian attack on Ukraine would include the capital.