War in Ukraine: Russian forces begin invasion of Ukraine

Matthew Rea

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The flag of Ukraine still flying defiantly over many of Ukraine’s population centers.

On the night of Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 7:07 p.m. PST (Thursday, Feb. 24,  5:07 a.m. GMT+2), Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a “special military operation” in the Donbas region of Ukraine. 

Immediately after his televised announcement, explosions from Russian cruise and ballistic missiles could be heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, according to MSNBC, CNN, and social media posts of citizens in the area. Further explosions were reported in Odessa, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, and around other major population centers.

An hour and a half after the first explosions, Russian troops began crossing the Belorussian-Ukrainian border at 6:48 a.m. GMT+2. 

As of Friday, Feb. 25, Russian forces captured Zmiinyi Island and Chernobyl. It is currently unknown as to the extent of captured Ukrainian territory, but heavy fighting has been reported around the major population centers of Odessa and Mariupol’ in the south and Kharkiv in the east. 

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Russian forces are close to the capital, with the city being hit and fighting breaking out in the surrounding cities. Most of Ukraine’s neighbors have opened their borders and simplified the entry process for the thousands of refugees fleeing from the invasion. As of Monday, Feb. 28, more than 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine, according to the UN Refugee Agency. Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia, all bordering Ukraine, have removed visa requirements for at least the next 30 days, only requiring a passport. The Polish government has begun setting up refugee reception centers along the border. While women, children, the elderly, and those with disabilities are able to freely pass through, all men ages 18-60 are banned from leaving, following Zelensky’s mobilization order.

This is an ongoing story, and RCHS student journalists will continue to provide summarized reports.