In videos, photos, and maps, how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unfolding on the ground

In videos, photos, and maps, how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unfolding on the ground

Their resistance has been surprisingly durable, Western military analysts said.

Belarus, a long ally of Moscow which had held joint military exercises for months, is preparing to send its troops into Ukraine in support of the war even as it has agreed to host negotiations between Russia and Ukraine on Monday.

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FRIDAY

Bridge destroyed

by Ukrainian forces

Kyiv City

Kotsyubyns’ke

FRIDAY

Civilian building

hit by rocket debris

SATURDAY

High-rise

apartment

struck by

missile

Kyiv Oblast

3 miles

FRIDAY

Bridge destroyed

by Ukrainian forces

Kyiv City

Kotsyubyns’ke

FRIDAY

Civilian building hit

by rocket debris

SATURDAY

High-rise apartment

struck by missile

Sikorsky

International

Airport

Kyiv Oblast

3 miles

FRIDAY

Bridge destroyed

by Ukrainian forces

Kyiv City

Kotsyubyns’ke

FRIDAY

Civilian building hit

by rocket debris

SATURDAY

High-rise apartment

struck by missile

Sikorsky

International

Airport

Boryspil

International

Airport

Kyiv Oblast

3 miles

It remains unclear how much of the country remains under Ukrainian control and how much Russia has seized.

More than 350 civilians have been killed, including 14 children, Ukrainian officials said Sunday, although the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said the actual number is likely “considerably higher.” The number of refugees is approaching 400,000, the U.N. refugee agency says, creating a humanitarian crisis.

In photos, videos and maps, this is how the situation on the ground is unfolding, including reports from journalists for The Post on the scene.

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Map: What Russia’s troop movements look like as of Sunday

Russian forces pushed into Kharkiv, but the city remains under Ukrainian control.

Russian-held

areas an troop

movement

BELARUS

As of Saturday night, Russian forces had not been able to isolate Kyiv.

RUSSIA

Kyiv

Kharkiv

UKRAINE

Crimean forces are now pushing toward southeastern Ukraine.

Berdiansk

Odessa

ROM.

Russia has taken Berdiansk.

Crimea

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

100 MILES

Control areas as of Feb. 26

Sources: Institute for the Study of War, Janes, Post reporting

Russian forces pushed into Kharkiv, but the city remains under Ukrainian control.

Russian-held

areas and troop

movement

BELARUS

As of Saturday night in Ukraine, Russian forces had not been able to isolate Kyiv.

RUSSIA

Kyiv

Kharkiv

Crimean forces changed their advance to push toward southeastern Ukraine.

UKRAINE

Zaporizhie

Berdiansk

Odessa

ROM.

Russia has taken Berdiansk.

Crimea

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

100 MILES

Control maps

as of Feb. 26

Black Sea

Sources: Institute for the Study of War, Janes, Post reporting

Russian-held areas

and troop movement

Russian forces pushed into Kharkiv, but the city remains under Ukrainian control.

BELARUS

POLAND

As of Saturday night in Ukraine, Russian forces had not been able to isolate Kyiv.

RUSSIA

Kyiv

Dnieper

Kharkiv

Crimean forces changed their advance to Odessa to push north toward southeastern Ukraine.

UKRAINE

Zaporizhie

Separatist-

controlled

area

Berdiansk

ROMANIA

Odessa

100 MILES

Russia has taken Berdiansk.

Crimea

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Control areas as of Feb. 26

Black Sea

Sources: Institute for the Study

of War, Janes, Post reporting

Contested

Russian-held

Russian troop movement

Ground incursion from Belarus to north of Kyiv

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Helicopter troop inserts into

Kharkiv area

Chernobyl

Russia is getting more resistance than it expected around Kyiv, according to the Pentagon

Kyiv

Kharkiv

UKRAINE

Dnieper

Amphibious landing

west of the port city

of Mariupol

Mariupol

Separatist-

controlled

area

ROMANIA

Odessa

Crimea

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

100 MILES

Black Sea

Sources: Janes, Post reporting

More than 360,000 Ukrainians have crossed into neighboring countries, according to the United Nations refugee agency. They are going to Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova. They are waiting in lines for as long as 36 hours to enter these countries as they flee the escalating fighting at home.

Available border crossings to Europe

Warsaw

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Kyiv

Lviv

Dnieper

Kharkiv

SLOVAKIA

MOLDOVA

UKRAINE

Budapest

HUNGARY

Odessa

ROMANIA

CRIMEA

Bucharest

As of Feb. 27.

Does not include railway crossings.

Black Sea

100 MI

Sources: Ukrainian government, border police authorities.

Available border crossings to Europe

Warsaw

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Kyiv

Lviv

Dnieper

Kharkiv

SLOVAKIA

UKRAINE

Budapest

MOLDOVA

HUNGARY

Odessa

ROMANIA

CRIMEA

Bucharest

Black Sea

As of Feb. 27.

Does not include railway crossings.

100 MI

Sources: Ukrainian government, border police authorities.

Available border crossings to Europe

Warsaw

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Kyiv

Lviv

Dnieper

Kharkiv

SLOVAKIA

UKRAINE

Budapest

MOLDOVA

HUNGARY

Odessa

ROMANIA

CRIMEA

Bucharest

Black Sea

As of Feb. 27.

Does not include railway crossings.

100 MI

Sources: Ukrainian government, border police authorities.

Reporter dispatch: Sirens and warnings in Ukraine’s capital

The Washington Post’s Siobhán O’Grady and Whitney Shefte report from a bunker in Kyiv on Feb. 26 after warnings of imminent Russian shelling. (Whitney Shefte, Siobhán O’Grady/The Washington Post)Missile strikes residential building in Kyiv

Two surveillance camera videos, verified by The Washington Post, show a missile hitting a residential building in Kyiv Feb. 26. (Telegram)Two surveillance camera videos, verified by The Washington Post, show the moment a missile hits a residential high-rise in Kyiv on Saturday morning, as Ukrainian forces fight to hold the capital city. There was no word on casualties; air raid sirens sound to warn people to seek shelter underground.

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Firefighters extinguished flames where it appears there are commercial shops on the ground floor.

Through analysis and geolocation of the videos, The Post determined that the missile hit the building from the west. Directly behind the building to the east, in the path of the missile’s approximate trajectory, is a medical center.

— Atthar Mirza and Elyse Samuels

Ukrainians flee into neighboring countries

Perhaps 120,000 people already had fled Ukraine into neighboring countries, the U.N. refugee agency said Saturday, cramming into trains, packed into cars and buses, and even walking across borders.

The refugees are being welcomed by Hungary and other neighboring countries that all resisted accepting people displaced by the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Satellite images on Friday showed a four-mile-long line of vehicles waiting to cross a checkpoint at Siret, Romania. The Romanian defense minister said earlier this week that the NATO country of 19 million could take in up to a half-million refugees.

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Kyiv

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Bucharest

Line of cars

N

3 MILES

2 MILES

1 MILE

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Kyiv

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Bucharest

Line of cars

N

3 MILES

2 MILES

1 MILE

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Kyiv

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Bucharest

Line of cars

N

3 MILES

2 MILES

1 MILE

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Kyiv

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

Bucharest

Line of cars

N

3 MILES

2 MILES

1 MILE

UKRAINE

ROMANIA

The majority crossing the borders are women and children, since Ukraine has tried to prevent most men from leaving the country so they can stay and fight. Some children have been sent alone.

Anna Semyuk, 33, hugged her son at a Hungarian crossing on Saturday. At the Ukrainian side of the border, her son and daughter had been handed by their father, who is not allowed to cross, to Nataliya Ableyeva, 58, a stranger who took the children across the border and kept them safe.

“We didn’t expect it to happen so fast,” said Khrystyna Spilnyk, 22, who was walking to the Polish border with her mother after leaving their car at the side of the road on Thursday. “We are stressed, confused.”

The largest numbers continued to pour into Poland, where many Ukrainians already had emigrated to work after previous Russian incursions. Many people sent children alone.

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From Kyiv to Kharkiv Ukrainians are answering the call to take up arms

Ukraine’s government has urged citizens to take up arms to repel the Russian invasion. Across the country, people from all walks of life are answering the call. (Whitney Shefte, Whitney Leaming, James Cornsilk/The Washington Post)Reporter dispatch: Kyiv residents prepare for a fight

Post reporter Siobhán O’Grady reported on Ukrainians lining up at a police station hoping to register for weapons in Kyiv on Feb. 26. (The Washington Post)Reporter dispatch: Ukrainian volunteers build molotov cocktails

The Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan reported on Ukrainians preparing molotov cocktails in Kyiv on Feb. 26, in order to fight off attacks by Russian forces. (The Washington Post)Reporter dispatch: In the western city of Lviv, sirens, fear and preparation

The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris describes the tense wait in Lviv, Ukraine, as air raid sirens go off in the city. (The Washington Post)The second floor of a hospital in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Melitopol was struck on Feb. 25, as the city faced heavy shelling from Russian forces. (Twitter)Russia has claimed its assault on Ukraine is aimed only at military targets, but bridges, schools and residential areas have been hit with air and missile strikes.

Some of the heaviest attacks have been in the southeastern city of Melitopol, where shelling struck the second floor of a hospital Friday, as seen in video of the event first verified by Storyful.

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Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Liashko confirmed in a Facebook post that the hospital came under fire. He said that no one was hurt.

A Russian bomb struck a hospital in Ukraine’s Donetsk region a day earlier, according to Human Rights Watch. At least four civilians were killed and the hospital damaged, the group said, basing its account on interviews with hospital staffers and analysis of photos of weapons remnants.

— Meg Kelly and Joyce Sohyun Lee

Russian troops have entered Ukraine from the north, south and east of the country.

Contested

Russian-held

BEL.

RUSSIA

Helicopter troop inserts into Kharkiv area

Russia is getting more resistance than it expected around Kyiv, according to the Pentagon

Chernobyl

Kyiv

Kharkiv

UKRAINE

Amphibious landing

west of Mariupol

Mariupol

Separatist-

controlled

area

ROMANIA

Crimea

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

100 MILES

Sources: Janes, Post reporting

As of Feb. 25

Contested

Russian-held

Russian troop movement

BEL.

RUSSIA

Helicopter troop inserts into Kharkiv area

POL.

Chernobyl

Russia is getting more resistance than it expected around Kyiv, according to the Pentagon

Kyiv

Kharkiv

UKRAINE

Amphibious landing

west of Mariupol

ROMANIA

Mariupol

Separatist-

controlled

area

100 MILES

Sources: Janes,

ost reporting

Crimea

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

As of Feb. 25

Contested

Russian-held

Russian troop movement

Ground incursion from Belarus to north of Kyiv

BELARUS

RUSSIA

Chernobyl

Helicopter troop inserts into Kharkiv area

POLAND

Russia is getting more resistance than it expected around Kyiv, according to the Pentagon

Kyiv

Kharkiv

UKRAINE

Dnieper

Amphibious landing

west of the port city

of Mariupol

Mariupol

Separatist-

controlled

area

ROMANIA

Odessa

Crimea

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

100 MILES

Sources: Janes, Post reporting

Black Sea

As of Feb .25

Contested

Russian-held

Russian troop movement

Ground incursion from Belarus to north of Kyiv

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Helicopter troop inserts into

Kharkiv area

Chernobyl

Russia is getting more resistance than it expected around Kyiv, according to the Pentagon

Kyiv

Kharkiv

UKRAINE

Dnieper

Amphibious landing

west of the port city

of Mariupol

Mariupol

Separatist-

controlled

area

ROMANIA

Odessa

Crimea

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

100 MILES

Black Sea

Sources: Janes, Post reporting

Dispatches: Reporters on the ground

As the Russian assault on Ukraine intensified, Post reporters shared what they were experiencing on the ground.

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In Kharkiv, The Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan took shelter with her colleagues for a second time as the shelling intensified.

The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan is in Kharkiv, Ukraine where shelling could be heard near the city on Feb. 25. (Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)In Kyiv, Post Video journalist Whitney Shefte returned to her hotel’s bunker, along with other journalists and hotel guests, for the fourth or fifth time that day.

Video journalist Whitney Shefte reports from her hotel bunker amid loud booms in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Casey Silvestri/The Washington Post)And farther west, The Post’s David Stern reported from a traffic jam in the Carpathian Mountains, where many were trying to travel farther from the fighting. “Cars are backed up for, well, miles,” he said.

Reporter David Stern sits in miles-long traffic in western Ukraine as people move away from Russian threats. (Casey Silvestri/The Washington Post)Civilians answer the call to fight for Ukraine

As Russian forces push toward Kyiv, the seventh most populated city in Europe, people all over the country are being urged by officials — and sometimes compelled by necessity — to fight back in whatever ways they can.

The country’s former president is patrolling the city streets with a civilian defense force, armed with an AK-47. Civilians have been called to find their own weapons and make molotov cocktails — a type of crude, homemade explosive named, mockingly, after a former Soviet foreign minister.

Roughly 18,000 weapons have already been distributed in the Kyiv region, according to the government. At the country’s borders, Ukrainian guards have been stopping vehicles, looking for men between the ages of 18 and 60 who can help in the fight.

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Kira Rudik, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, also said she was ready to fight. She had learned to use a Kalashnikov, she said, in a post on Twitter. “It sounds surreal, as just a few days ago it would never come to my mind.”

— Adam Taylor and Ruby Mellen

Satellite images suggest offensive against Kyiv may be ‘imminent’

Satellite images from Maxar Technologies taken Friday showed large deployments of ground forces and nearly 150 helicopters poised in southern Belarus, fewer than 100 miles from Kyiv.

Friday a senior U.S. defense official said the Russian military had lost momentum in its offensive as Ukrainian forces put up resistance, but the official added that could change. The photos reveal extensive troops and materiel in Belarus, a nation loyal to Moscow.

BELARUS

Mazyr

Satellite images taken Friday

show more than 140 helicopters and ground forces with vehicles in convoy position in Belarus near Mazyr and Chojniki

Chojniki

UKRAINE

Palieski State

Radioecological

Reserve

Chernihiv

Ovruch

Captured by Russia

on Friday

Korosten

Ivankiv

Malyn

Bridge destroyed

by Ukrainian forces

UKRAINE

Kyiv

20 MILES

Zhytomyr

Satellite images taken Friday

show more than 140 helicopters and ground forces with vehicles in convoy position in Belarus near Mazyr and Chojniki

Mazyr

BELARUS

Chojniki

UKR.

Palieski State

Radioecological

Reserve

Chernihiv

Ovruch

Captured by Russia on Friday

Ivankiv

Korosten

Bridge destroyed

by Ukrainian forces

UKRAINE

Kyiv

Zhytomyr

Has been targeted

with airstrikes

30 MILES

30 MILES

Satellite images taken Friday

show more than 140 helicopters and ground forces with vehicles in convoy position near Mazyr and Chojniki

Mazyr

UKR.

Chojniki

BELARUS

Palieski State

Radioecological

Reserve

Chernihiv

Ovruch

Captured by Russia on Friday

Korosten

Ivankiv

Bridge destroyed

by Ukrainian forces

Kyiv

UKRAINE

Zhytomyr

Has been targeted

with airstrikes

30 MILES

“This is an indicator of a large push to come,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a professor and arms control expert at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies. “The helicopters and the ground forces nearby suggest an imminent offensive against Kyiv.”

He added that while they were hard to definitively identify, the helicopters were probably Russian because “Belarus only has a tiny number of attack helicopters” and “the fact that they are out in the field suggests they are far from home.”

In Chojniki, Belarus, more than 90 parked helicopters formed a line extending more than five miles, Maxar said.

Northeast of that town, several hundred military vehicles were positioned. Fifty additional helicopters were photographed near Mazyr, Belarus. The Pentagon said Friday about a third of the Russian forces committed to the assault are now in Ukraine, or more than 50,000.

Thousands swarm Kyiv railway station

As officials warned that the capital could fall, thousands of people waited in a Kyiv railway station, desperate to get on a train to leave the city. Photos from the Kyiv-based news organization Zaborona posted on Twitter showed crowds of people swarming platforms. The organization said Ukrainian Railways was evacuating 4,000 people an hour, prioritizing women and children.

Some Ukrainians return to fight, others are blocked from fleeing

The video shows hundreds of people stuck at the Medyka border crossing in Shehyni, Ukraine, waiting to enter Poland on Feb. 25. (Wojciech Grzedzinski/The Washington Post)As some Ukrainian men living overseas queued at border crossings to return and try to do their part to fight Russia’s onslaught on Friday, others expressed frustration at being blocked from leaving amid a national call to arms.

Ukraine’s border guard had stopped all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country on Friday, as the defense ministry called on residents of one district of Kyiv to make molotov cocktails.

Alexander Gorbenko, 54, complained there was little he could do to protect his homeland from Russian troops as he parted with his wife and 11-year-old daughter at the Medyka-Shehyni border crossing to Poland, unable to cross with them.

“I just have an air rifle, the cash machines don’t work, and there is no organization,” he said. “I cannot prepare, you cannot just go and buy a weapon, it’s not like the United States.”

— Loveday Morris

Explosions lit up Kyiv’s predawn sky Friday. Social media video showed the blasts as fearful onlookers filmed. The Post verified the videos below and synchronized audio and visual cues to show how the explosions looked from various angles.

The Washington Post synchronized multiple videos showing explosions over Kyiv on Feb. 25. (Twitter and Telegram)A civilian building was heavily damaged after a projectile hit a residential neighborhood in the city, according to Ukrainian officials.

Video posted to social media and verified by The Post shows a small fire and damage to an apartment building in Kyiv in the early morning of Feb. 25. (Telegram)Several people were injured, including one in critical condition, according to the mayor’s office.

Scores of civilians were displaced from their homes in Kyiv on Feb. 25 after an unidentified projectile struck just outside their apartment block before dawn. (Whitney Shefte, Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)Valentina Petrova, one of the building’s residents, examined the damage left behind.

Passersby observed the destruction in shock.

Daily overview

Russian forces drew nearer to Kyiv on Thursday as military experts warned the capital could fall in days.

The city’s mayor vowed to fight Russian forces.

Some residents tried to leave on buses, fearing what may come next.

Protests and arrests in Russia

Protesters in Saint Petersburg, Russia took to the streets to demand an end to the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. (For The Washington Post)Thousands of people protested President Vladimir Putin’s attacks on Ukraine in cities across Russia on Thursday, a striking show of anger in a nation where spontaneous mass demonstrations are illegal and protesters can face fines and jail.

More than 1,700 people were arrested in at least 47 cities across the nation, according to Russian rights group OVD-Info. The group was declared a foreign agent last year, when Putin launched a sweeping crackdown on activists, rights groups and opposition figures.

Police detain protesters in Moscow on Feb. 24. (Telegram)The protests came with an outpouring of horror from liberal Russians, social media influencers, athletes, actors, television presenters and others.

— Robyn Dixon

Destruction from the strikes

Video shared to social media on Thursday and verified by The Post shows at least seven aircrafts flying toward plumes of smoke in Hostomel, Ukraine, approximately three miles east of the Antonov International Airport. In the video the sounds of the approaching helicopters build as the people who are filming discuss what they’re seeing.

Video shared on social media Feb. 24 showed helicopters and smoke rising over Hostomel, Ukraine, as Russia began its country-wide attack. (Twitter)A mix of nearly two dozen attack and transport helicopters assaulted the Hostomel airfield outside Kyiv, the Ukrainian military said.

A resident in Hostomel, Ukraine, northwest of the capital Kyiv shared video of the damage done to his apartment on Feb. 24. (Andriy Tsibulsky via AP)A resident in Hostomel shared video from his apartment on Thursday showing a room in tatters — a blown-out window, destruction from debris, dust-covered furniture and a baby stroller with a toy doll in it. He said the damage was from Russia’s military attack.

— Joyce Lee, Alex Horton, Elyse Samuels

There were similar scenes of destruction in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

In Chuhuiv, just outside of Kharkiv, the pain inflicted from the strikes was clear on people’s faces.

Dispatches: Reporters on the ground

In Ukraine and neighboring Poland, Post reporters witnessed the attack unfold firsthand. Siobhán O’Grady took shelter with other colleagues in a Kyiv hotel basement as Russian forces attacked an air base nearby.

The Post’s Siobhán O’Grady spoke about covering Russia’s military assault on Feb. 24 while taking shelter with colleagues in a hotel basement in Kyiv, Ukraine. (The Washington Post)Post photojournalist Salwan Georges reported from a Kharkiv subway station, where hundreds were taking shelter from bombardments. Some of the Ukrainians there said their family members were above ground, fighting with the military.

The Washington Post’s Salwan Georges reports from Kharkiv, Ukraine where hundreds of civilians are sheltering in a subway station as Russia attacks the country. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)And The Post’s Loveday Morris reported from the Ukrainian-Polish border where a steady stream of people were crossing into Poland on foot. U.S. troops inside Poland are moving closer to help process those fleeing.

The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris is at the Ukrainian-Polish border Feb. 24, where a steady stream of people head toward Poland as Russia attacks Ukraine. (Loveday Morris/The Washington Post)Video: ‘Wake up, the war has started’

In the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, morning light on Feb. 24 brought residents to gas stations to fill up after Russian forces launched military actions. (Whitney Leaming, Lee Powell/The Washington Post)In the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, residents flocked to gas stations in the morning to fill up. They wanted to be prepared, but not everyone was set on leaving.

“We will stay in Ukraine,” Kristina Nimenko, 18, told The Post. “We will stay at home because we are from Ukraine.”

Ukrainians scramble as Russia attacks

Across the country, Ukrainians faced a new reality on Thursday.

Following a night of explosions in Kharkiv, a family with a 5-month-old baby wondered what they should do next, and where they could go to find safety. (Whitney Leaming, Erin Patrick O’Connor/The Washington Post)They got in their cars to drive west.

Ukrainians in Kyiv and Kharkiv jammed the highways attempting to leave the area as Russia launched an attack on the country on Feb. 24. (The Washington Post)But had to avoid Ukrainian carriers in the streets.

Ukrainian amphibious personnel carriers are positioned on the outskirts of Kharkiv as Russian forces advance on the city. (Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)They fled to train stations.

They took shelter from the strikes in underground subway stations.

Hundreds of people in the eastern city of Kharkiv sheltered inside a subway station on Feb. 24 as Russian troops advanced on the city. (Whitney Leaming, Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)And they looked on as smoke from Russian bombardments rose.

In a Kharkiv hotel lobby, a boy played the piano as Russian tanks advanced on the city.

A young boy plays piano in the lobby of a Kharkiv hotel as Russian troops advance on the city. (Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)By Thursday morning, it became clear the attack was coming from multiple areas. Video published by Ukraine’s border guard showed Russian military vehicles entering the country through Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

The Ukraine border guard service published a video of Russian military vehicles entering the country on Feb. 24. (Border Service of Ukraine)In central Ukraine, east of the Dnieper River, explosions near a Ukrainian airfield were documented.

A Ukrainian filmed a number of explosions near an airfield and bomb depot in Myrhorod in the center of the country on Feb. 24. (Validated UGC via AP)Explosions across Ukraine

Post reporter Siobhán O’Grady is in Kyiv and could hear loud explosions in Ukraine’s capital. She sent in this report just after the strikes began.

The Washington Post’s Siobhán O’Grady is in Kyiv as explosions were heard in the capital on Feb. 24. (The Washington Post)“From central Kyiv, the booms just after 5 a.m. appeared to be relatively far from major urban centers. As dawn begins to break here, traffic appears to be moving relatively normally with plenty of cars driving calmly and no audible sirens or panicked pedestrians,” O’Grady said.

Large explosions could also be seen and heard in Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv, the country’s second largest after Kyiv.

As Russia launched a military assault against Ukraine on Feb. 24, explosions were heard near Kharkiv, in the country’s Northeast. (Whitney Leaming)Just hours before Putin’s declaration, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for peace in an emotional video address. Speaking directly to the Russian people, in their language, he warned that the Kremlin had ordered nearly 200,000 troops to enter his country.

“If these forces attack us,” Zelensky warned, “if you attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. Not attack, defend.”

In an emotional address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 24 that nearly 200,000 Russian troops are across the border in Russia. (Reuters)Satellite images: Continued Russian buildup on Ukraine border

On Wednesday, satellite imagery released by Maxar Technologies showed new deployments in western Russia, according to the organization, which has been tracking Moscow’s military movements. Maxar released photos it said showed deployments within 10 miles of the Ukrainian border and less than 50 miles from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. The satellite image below showed equipment deployed near Kupino, Russia, some 11 miles from Ukraine’s border, according to Maxar.

In Belarus, about 22 miles from Ukraine’s border, an increased Russian presence was also captured. On Feb. 4, the Bolshoy Bokov airfield, near Mazyr, Belarus, was an empty snowy field.

By Tuesday, equipment had filled the space.

Russian troops are “ready to go,” Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby told reporters Wednesday. “They could attack at any time,” he added, “with a significant military force.”

In eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv, deep worries and defiance

Activists in Kharkiv held a vigil on Feb. 22 to remember Ukraine’s war victims and pray for peace amid a new military escalation by Russia. (Whitney Leaming, Lee Powell/The Washington Post)Activists in Kharkiv, about 50 miles from where Russian troops amassed, held an annual vigil on Tuesday to remember those killed in Ukraine’s years-long conflict with Russian-backed separatists. But this year’s vigil was just as much a memorial as it was an act of defiance.

“Everyone understands that a war has already been declared,” said Voloymyr Chistilin, one of the organizers of Patriots’ Day in Kharkiv. “And this is a critical, decisive moment.”

But life in Kharkiv looked surprisingly normal even as Ukraine absorbed Putin’s latest moves.

Newlyweds posed for photos, the downtown mall was bustling, and grocery stores were stocked — as if people don’t want to give Putin the satisfaction of disturbing daily life.

— Isabelle Khurshudyan, Whitney Leaming and Salwan Georges

Russian troops enter Ukraine

RUSSIA

Belgorod

Valuyki

Kharkiv

LUHANSK

Milove

Strarobilsk

Area held

by Russia-

backed

separatists

Izyum

Lysychansk

UKRAINE

Luhansk

Kramatorsk

Horlivka

Dnipropetrovsk

Shakhty

Donetsk

DONETSK

Zaporizhzhya

Rostov-on-Don

Taganrog

Mariupol

50 MILES

Berdyansk

Melitopol

Yeysk

RUSSIA

THE WASHINGTON POST

Belgorod

RUSSIA

Valuyki

Kharkiv

Milove

LUHANSK

Millerovo

Izyum

UKRAINE

Luhansk

Kramatorsk

Donetsk

Area held by

Russia-backed

separatists

DONETSK

50 MILES

Mariupol

Melitopol

RUSSIA

RUSSIA

Belgorod

Valuyki

Kharkiv

Milove

UKRAINE

LUHANSK

Millerovo

Area

held by

Russia-

backed

separa-

tists

Luhansk

Kramatorsk

Donetsk

DONETSK

50 MILES

Mariupol

RUSSIA

On Monday evening, after Putin recognized the legitimacy of the breakaway territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as independent, he ordered what he called “peacekeeping” troops into the region, only parts of which are controlled by pro-Moscow separatists.

Video from Feb. 22 showed military vehicles on the edge of Donetsk, one of two separatist areas in eastern Ukraine that Russia recognized as independent. (Reuters)The Kremlin said Tuesday that its recognition of the two separatist enclaves covers areas controlled by the Ukrainian government. NATO and Western nations were braced for a full-scale invasion into Ukraine.

Earlier Monday, Putin called a meeting of Russia’s Security Council and grilled members on the merits of recognizing these separatist areas.

Vladimir Putin admonished his head of foreign intelligence during a carefully orchestrated, prerecorded meeting of the Russian Security Council. (The Washington Post)After that meeting, Putin aired an angry, prerecorded speech that recognized the sovereignty of the regions, where fighting first broke out in 2014, and rejected Ukraine’s legitimacy as an independent nation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the West and referred to Ukraine as “a colony” in a televised address on Feb. 21. (The Washington Post)Zelensky later responded to Putin’s speech in a televised address, calling for a “peaceful, diplomatic solution” to the situation. “We are on our land,” he added. “We owe nothing to anybody.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a late night, emergency address on Feb. 22, after Russia recognized the two breakaway regions in east Ukraine. (AP)Daily overview

Putin’s screed came after a sharp increase in violence in eastern Ukraine over the weekend. Civilians in Ukrainian-controlled parts of the east said they thought their homes were being targeted by separatists to provoke a response from Ukrainian forces. U.S. officials repeatedly warned that Russian troops might stage an attack that appeared to come from Ukrainian government forces to justify an invasion.

“We have no doubt in our minds where this shelling is coming from and who is firing it,” Diana Levenets said, pointing to the hills where the separatist forces are posted. “We can literally see where it’s coming from.”

After years of peace, villagers in Ukraine’s Donbas region are enduring a sharp increase in shelling from separatists and fear a Russian invasion could be next. (Whitney Leaming, Erin Patrick O’Connor, Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)Meanwhile, leaders of the separatist areas announced a mass evacuation of civilians, saying they knew of plans for an imminent attack by Ukrainian forces. Buses were escorted by the head of police from Donbas to Rostov, a city in southwestern Russia.

Daily overview

The increase in violence in the east began on Thursday, with shelling from Russian-backed separatists that put civilians in the crossfire.

A Post photographer captured images of a badly damaged kindergarten in Stanytsia Luhanska. No children were harmed, but three adults were injured, according to the Ukrainian military. The kindergarten director describes hustling the children to hide from the shelling in this video.

Context: Uneasy calm on the front lines

Although they have increased in intensity, clashes between Ukrainian soldiers and the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine are nothing new. More than 3,000 civilians have been killed there since 2014, according to the United Nations.

Despite military aid from Western countries and newly delivered equipment, the 209,000 active-duty Ukrainian fighters face a potential battle against Russia. In the trenches, the soldiers acknowledged the challenges ahead.

“Our defense is our job,” Oleksander, a battalion commander, told The Post. “But whoever helps us, we’ll be grateful for it.” He took The Post into the trenches, where his troops were preparing for a possible Russian assault.

Follow a battalion commander through the trenches of eastern Ukraine as he prepares his troops for a possible Russian invasion. (Whitney Shefte, Whitney Leaming, Erin Patrick O’Connor/The Washington Post)— Isabelle Khurshudyan, Whitney Shefte and Michael Robinson Chavez

Military exercises in Belarus

The Washington Post’s Mary Ilyushina observes military drills with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko on Feb. 17. (Mary Ilyushina, Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)As tensions escalated in Ukraine’s east, Russia also was conducting military exercises in Moscow-allied Belarus, which is to Ukraine’s north. Belarus’s southern border is about 50 miles from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

Both countries said Russian troops would withdraw when the exercises ended Feb. 20. When that deadline arrived, both announced that Russian forces would stay in Belarus indefinitely.

Russia started the active phase of military drills in Belarus on Feb. 10. (Reuters)Explainer: Maps that explain the conflict

The strains between Russia and Ukraine involve land borders and strategic influence. Ukraine once was a part of the Soviet Union, a fact that Putin used to question the legitimacy of the country’s independence. He sees Ukraine, which has been an independent nation since 1991, as an integral part of greater Russia.

EST.

RUSSIA

LAT.

Moscow

LITH.

BEL.

Boundary of former

Soviet Union

MOL.

KAZAKHSTAN

GEORGIA

KYRGYZ.

ARMENIA—

AZER.

TAJIK.

NOR.

FIN.

RUSSIA

SWE.

EST.

LAT.

LITH.

Boundary of former

Soviet Union

Moscow

POL.

BEL.

MOL.—

KAZAKHSTAN

GEORGIA

KYRGYZ.

ARMENIA—

AZER.

CHINA

TAJIK.

SYRIA

IRAN

AFGH.

SWE.

NOR.

FIN.

EST.

LAT.

LITH.

Boundary of former

Soviet Union

Moscow

GER.

POL.

BELARUS

MONGOLIA

MOL.—

KAZAKHSTAN

GEORGIA

KYRGYZ.

ARMENIA—

AZER.

CHINA

TAJIK.

SYRIA

IRAN

AFGH.

IRAQ

INDIA

PAK.

He has demanded that Ukraine not join NATO because such a move would increase the alliance’s footprint on Russia’s borders.

JAPAN

CHINA

Alaska

U.S.

RUSSIA

CANADA

Greenland

(DENMARK)

KAZAKH.

BELARUS

ICELAND

FIN.

UKRAINE

NOR.

GEORGIA

POL.

U.K.

GER.

TURKEY

SPAIN

NATO member states

JAPAN

Pacific Ocean

S. KOR.

N. KOR.

CHINA

Alaska

U.S.

RUSSIA

MONG.

CANADA

Greenland

(DENMARK)

KAZAKH.

FIN.

BELARUS

ICELAND

NOR.

UKRAINE

GEORGIA

POL.

U.K.

GER.

TURKEY

FRANCE

SPAIN

NATO member states

CANADA

Alaska

Greenland

U.S.

(DENMARK)

ICELAND

SPAIN

U.K.

FRANCE

NOR.

GER.

SWE.

FIN.

POL.

BELARUS

UKRAINE

TURKEY

JAPAN

CHINA

N. KOR.

GEORGIA

MONGOLIA

In 2014, Russian military forces annexed Crimea on the Black Sea, after Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution ousted a pro-Russian government for a Western-leaning one. Putin backed separatists in the eastern industrial regions that are the flash point of the current actions. On Tuesday, forces entered those eastern regions, and Putin called on Ukraine to accept that Crimea is Russian territory, a continuation of his long push to return Ukraine to Russia’s fold.

Percentage of population that identified Russian as their first language

(2001 census, most recent data available)

100%

BELARUS

POLAND

RUSSIA

Chernobyl

Lviv

Kyiv

Dnieper

Kharkiv

Luhansk

UKRAINE

Dnipropetrovsk

Donetsk

Separatist-

controlled

area

ROMANIA

100 MILES

Odessa

Crimea

RUSSIA

Sevastopol

Black Sea

Percentage of population that identified

Russian as their first language

(2001 census, most recent data available)

100%

BELARUS

RUSSIA

Separatist-

controlled

area

POL.

Kyiv

Lviv

Kharkiv

Luhansk

UKRAINE

Donetsk

MOL.

ROMANIA

Odessa

Crimea

Sevastopol

200 MILES

Black Sea

Percentage of population that identified Russian as their first language

(2001 census, most recent data )

100%

BELARUS

RUSSIA

Kyiv

Lviv

UKRAINE

Luhansk

Donetsk

MOL.

Separatist-

controlled

area

ROM.

Odessa

Crimea

Black Sea

200 MILES

Ruby Mellen reported from Washington.

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