In the hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of Russian military operations against Ukraine, Russian missile and artillery strikes poured in across eastern Ukraine and Russian air and ground forces began to move in, capturing numerous cities and inflicting heavy losses against the Ukrainian side. But Russia’s attack has already come at a cost as Ukraine’s forces have fought back.
Across social media, videos and photos began pouring in on Thursday as Ukraine’s air defenses fought back against Russian air forces, while Ukrainian ground forces fought to stop the advance of Russian tanks and other armored vehicles.
Video showed an aerial dogfight between a Russian Su-35 and a Ukrainian MiG-29 over the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv as each fighter tried to outmaneuver the other.
Ukrainian officials claimed to have downed multiple Russian planes on Thursday. Confirmation of each down aircraft is not immediately available, but images showed the tail section of one Russian An-26 transport aircraft. The aircraft tail included a red star roundel, indicating it is indeed a Russian aircraft.
Another video purported to show a Russian fighter jet shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.
Reports from the area around Kyiv indicated Russia has also lost multiple helicopters including three Ka-52 attack helicopters and a Mi-8 transport helicopter. Reports indicated the Russian helicopters were brought down by Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29 fighter jets and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
Video reportedly showed the wreckage of a fourth Ka-52 attack had fallen into a lake north of Kyiv and its crew parachuting out over the water.
Another video appeared to show a swarm of Russian helicopters flying over a lake and frequently deploying radar and missile countermeasures known as “chaff,” likely to be targeted by Ukrainian defenses. Middle East Eye reporter Ragip Soylu said the footage was released by Russian media.
A still shot also purported to show the wreckage of a Russian Ka-52 attack helicopter near Kyiv.
Another video showed an up-close view of the same Ka-52 attack helicopter downed in the field near Kyiv.
A pair of still photos showed a stopped Russian BMP armored vehicle as well as multiple Russian soldiers lying face down after being captured by the Ukrainian side.
The Ukrainian side claimed to have captured two more Russian soldiers.
Hours later, a Ukrainian official said an entire reconnaissance unit of Russia’s 74th Motor Rifle Brigade had surrendered to Ukrainian forces.
Oksana Serhiyivna Markarova, the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, announced during a press conference Thursday morning that Russia’s 74th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade had surrendered to Ukraine. Markarova said the Russian troops expressed they didn’t know they were brought to Ukraine with the intention of killing Ukrainians.
At least one Russian T-80 tank was reportedly destroyed near Kharkiv after its ammunition compartment was struck.
Another video from Kharkiv showed a tank burning.
Near Luhansk, footage showed what appeared to be a Russian convoy that had been ambushed.
Another video appearing from the Russian side purported to show troops of Russia and the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR or LPR) hunkered down in a ditch near the town of Schastia as explosions are heard nearby.
Ukraine has also reportedly used armed Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 drones to target Russian armored forces.
A graphic video showed the wreckage of an armored convoy near Kharkiv. [WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES AND HUMAN REMAINS].
Aside from armed combat, video taken Thursday showed a Ukrainian woman in verbal combat with a Russian soldier, with the woman lambasting the armed Russian for being in her home country.
On the cyber front, reports indicated Russian government websites were being targeted with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.