Photos show chaos as Russia invades Ukraine

The Russian military operation in Ukraine is being conducted via land, sea, and air. This is what it looks like from the ground

By Nina Strochlic
Published 25 Feb 2022, 09:20 GMT, Updated 25 Feb 2022, 13:08 GMT
A Ukrainian serviceman waits until a mortar attack is over on the front lines of eastern Ukraine as large military deployments are underway with Russia’s invasion. More than 40 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed as of Thursday, according to news reports.
Photograph by Anatolii Stepanov, AFP / Getty Images

Scenes of chaos engulfed the capital of Ukraine on Thursday, after residents were awakened before dawn to the sound of missiles raining down on Kyiv. The country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, which borders Russia in the northeast, received a steady stream of blasts. Throughout the day, cars jammed highways in a desperate attempt to flee bombarded cities, thousands sheltered in subway stations, and backpack-carrying refugees made their way to border crossings.

The escalation, which Russia described as a “special military operation,” and the United States called “premeditated war,” has become the largest threat to peace in Europe since World War II, world leaders say.

Conscripts for the Russian Army board a train after a send-off ceremony at the Sevastopol railway station in Crimea. Thousands of Russian troops have been deployed by land, air, and sea, to aid in the invasion of Ukraine.

Photograph by Konstantin Mihalchevskiy, Sputnik / AP

Women and men hold rifles during a military drill for civilians carried out by the Movement of the Veterans of Zakarpattia in the village of Siurte in western Ukraine. While eastern Ukraine has strong ties to Russia, the west has aimed to align with NATO countries.

Photograph by SIPA / AP

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is now playing out via land, sea, and air. Hundreds of missiles have been launched into Ukraine, aimed at military targets such as airfields, barracks, and ammunition storage. Columns of Russian soldiers have been crossing the borders of both Russia and Belarus, according to news reports, and additional troops are landing on the southern coasts. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a curfew and martial law.

A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea. Before the invasion began in earnest, a buildup of an estimated 100,000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian border drew condemnation, but Moscow denied having plans to launch an attack.
Photograph by Ap
The day before the Russian invasion began, Ukrainian soldiers are seen in the north of Donetsk, a territory of Ukraine that is recognized as independent by Russia and its allies. Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine following Russian recognition of their independence.
Photograph by Wolfgang Schwan, Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
A Russian army service member fires a howitzer during drills at the Kuzminsky range in the southern Rostov region of Russia in late January.
Photograph by Sergey Pivovarov, Reuters

Smoke rises from an air defence base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday. Large explosions were heard before dawn in Ukraine’s largest cities, and world leaders immediately decried the start of the Russian invasion.

Photograph by Photorgaph by Evgeniy Maloletka, AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed he wants to “demilitarise” Ukraine, but analysts and historians believe he fears Ukraine’s alliance with the West and sees the nation’s prospects of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as a security threat to Russia.

Russia and Ukraine have more than a thousand years of shared history punctuated by war, famine, and identity politics. Centuries of European wars have separated and united the two nations under different empires and republics. Ukraine experienced brief moments of independence in the revolution-marked 20th century, but was quickly swept up as a republic of the former Soviet Union in 1922.

Ukraine gained independence as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and obtained a signed agreement from Russia, the U.S., and the U.K. to protect its sovereignty. But Putin has long laid claim to Ukraine as part of Russia.

Unidentified military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, are seen in front of a convoy of military trucks near a Ukrainian Naval base. All Ukrainian military bases on the Crimean Peninsula were blocked by unidentified military soldiers weeks before the invasion of Ukraine.

Photograph by Boryana Katsarova, LUZ / Redux
People try to get on a bus as they leave Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling, as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Photograph by Emilio Morenatti, AP

A woman reacts as she waits for a train trying to leave Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian troops have launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine. Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of an Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine's democratically elected government.

Photograph by Emilio Morenatti, AP

In this image from a video released by the Russian Presidential Press Service, President Vladimir Putin addressees the nation from Moscow. Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to "consequences you have never seen."

Photograph by Russian Presidential Press Service via AP

Pro-Russian activists celebrate on the streets of separatist-controlled Donetsk after Putin signed a decree recognising two Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities. Fireworks explode in the sky behind them.

Photograph by Alexander Ermochenko, Reuters
As the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine built up in early 2022, small protests around the world petitioned for peace. Here, in late January, a boy waves a Ukrainian flag during a rally in Niagara Falls in Canada.
Photograph by Nick Iwanyshyn, Reuters
Pro-Ukrainian protestors shout slogans during a small demonstration outside the Russian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, as news of the invasion spread on Thursday.
Photograph by Francisco Seco, AP

Separatist regions and ethnic alliances have carved tense lines between eastern Ukraine, with its strong ties to Russia, and the nation’s western regions, which have allied with Europe and the Americas. In 2014, shortly after annexing the Ukrainian region of Crimea, Putin declared Kyiv as “the mother of Russian cities.” In a recent speech, Putin denied Ukrainian independence and described it as a part of the “history, culture, and spiritual space” of Russia.

A full-fledged Ukrainian invasion is expected to become the largest land war in Europe since 1945. “We haven’t seen a conventional move like this, nation-state to nation-state, since World War II,” a senior U.S. defence official told the Washington Post.

NATO plans to send troops east and has pledged to ensure fighting does not spill into its member countries. Nations including Lithuania, which borders Belarus and a Russian enclave called Kaliningrad, have already deployed troops to protect their borders.

A Ukrainian service member walks along the front line of the government-held town of Avdiivka in Donetsk.
Photograph by Gleb Garanich, Reuters

Members of the Kyiv Presidential Honour Guard Battalion carry the coffin of Captain Anton Olegovich Sidorov to the Saint Trinity Cathedral on February 22, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. The soldier's death was reported by Ukraine's army on 19 February, one of the first such casualties in weeks, attributing it to a fatal shrapnel wound amid a wave of shelling by separatist rebels in the east. Soon afterwards Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised the independence of these breakaway regions and said he would send Russian "peacekeepers" to the area. 

Photograph by Pierre Crom, Getty Images

The body of Captain Anton Olegovich Sidorov is seen during his funeral on February 22, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. 

Photograph by Chris McGrath, Getty Images

Neighbouring Poland, aided by American troops, is preparing to accept the refugees who are currently crossing the border. Officials have estimated that one million Ukrainians may seek refuge in their country. As the world braces for war, economic and security shocks have already begun, sending stock prices crashing across Europe, the U.S., and Asia.

At NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg held a press briefing, where he said: “Russia has attacked Ukraine. Peace on our continent has been shattered.”

Cars heading out of Kyiv jammed the streets on Thursday as thousands attempted to flee in the onslaught of a Russian invasion.

Photograph by Emilio Morenatti, AP

A woman and child peer out of the window of a bus as they leave Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. A war in Ukraine could cause mass casualties, a refugee crisis, and have reverberations across the world, conflict experts say.

Photograph by Vadim Ghirda, AP

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