Russia Invades Ukraine. A Reportage of the First Hours.

By Tom Abadie and Marcello Filibeck

February 24th 2022. Today is a day for the history books. 9to5 reports with a timeline of what is happening in Ukraine, following Russian invasion earlier this morning.

4:30 AM – Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the beginning of a “special military operation”, following weeks of escalation in tensions across the Russian-Ukrainian border.

The military activity follows President Putin’s recent decision to recognize the two self-appointed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, in the Donbass region. Putin stated that the reaction will be “immediate” for anyone trying to interfere with Russian operations.

8:30 AM – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba releases a statement, informing that the country has activated its right to self-defense. In his statement, Kuleba defines Russian invasion as an “act of war,” asking the international community to take immediate action.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy imposes martial law in his country. “The Armed Forces are ready. The President is in constant contact with international partners,” says Mykhailo Podoliak, Adviser to the Head of the President’s Office.

“As you attack, it will be our faces you see, not our backs.”

– Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine

The European Institutions react condemning Russian operations and call an extraordinary meeting to prepare a package of “massive and targeted sanctions.” President of European Commission Ursula von del Leyen says that the threat is not just for Ukraine, it is for Europe too. US President Joe Biden also plans severe sanctions against Russia in the next hours.

9to5 spoke with Dr. Agha Bayramov, Lecturer of International Relations at the University of Groningen, to get a wider perspective on causes and possible consequences of this attack. “This is not a new invasion, it is a continuation of what has been happening already in other countries,” Bayramov says.

“How the international community will react is important,” he continues, explaining that we will see whether the institutions stick to words or they will take actions and show solidarity with Ukraine. “Like President von der Leyen stated, this is not just an invasion of Ukraine. It is a message for all former soviet countries, who are now at threat,” he said.

“This is a conflict between the West and Russia, unfortunately on the ground of Ukraine.”

– Dr. Agha Bayramov

9:30 AM – Russian troops are targeting many spots in Ukraine. Explosions and rocket attacks are being reported above borders and cities, including the capital Kiev. Bombing on Ukrainian airports are also confirmed by sources and videos. This map from Global Ukraine shows the scale of the attacks across the country.

Also featured on 9to5: Only Minutes Away From Putin’s Troops: Ukrainian Civilians Speak Out

11:00 AM – It is very difficult to report exactly what is going on on the field because of the uncertainty information arriving from Ukraine. Sources from the Ukrainian cabinet talk of a “full scale” war from multiple directions. Journalists and civilians share online pictures and videos of the attacks, which seem to confirm the broad dimensions of the attack. In the meantime, the air traffic above Ukraine is halted and no planes are flying through the Ukrainian airspace.

Air traffic situation in Europe at 12:10 AM (screenshot taken from Flightradar24)

In a statement following an extraordinary meeting, NATO condemns “in the strongest possible terms” Russia operations, claiming that the Allies stands with the people of Ukraine. Concerned about the stability of the Euro-Atlantic stability, NATO states that every necessary measure will be taken to ensure the security of the Alliance.

According to Bayramov, a direct involvement of NATO is not expected at the moment. Neither an intervention from Turkey – which rejected Russian operation in a speech from President Erdogan – is possible because the country is a NATO member and can’t take decisions on its own, Bayramov explained.

Also featured on 9to5: Poland Prepares for a Ukrainian Refugee Crisis

1:00 PM – During a joint press conference between NATO and European Commission, President von der Leyen states that the European Union is now not subject to Russia’s pression on gas. The EU is preparing to welcome refugees. She also anticipates the sanctions Europe is planning to implement. A detailed overview on these measures will be presented in a press conference scheduled for tonight at 8:00 PM.

3:00 PM – Civilians are trying to escape from Ukraine and reach safer places. Journalists and citizens are reporting on social media the general exodus from Kiev and other major cities.

“Europe is also divided, and countries reacted differently,” Bayramov says. “Baltic states have suffered from Russian occupation in the past and they reacted more directly, sending military troops. Other countries, like Germany, have been more skeptical and waited the very last minutes to react,” he added.

In Bayramov’s opinion, this division has created perfect ground for Putin and Russia. “When there is division in Europe, there is no singular response, there is no solidarity, there is no agreement,” he said.

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