On February 23, a unit of the Ukrainian Armed Forces crossed the Seversky Donets and with artillery support attacked the heights near Nikolayevka. They dislodged local militia fighters there and attempted to entrench themselves but were subjected to strong retaliation. Tanks from Luhansk supported by artillery soon counterattacked. As a result, the UAF unit was eventually repulsed despite their early success in taking the high ground. Frontline casualty assessment alleges 9 UAF soldiers killed.
There are additional reports of electronic warfare (EW) actively being employed. Impending disruptions to cellular and internet communications are expected. As of 01:10 local time cellular communications failure has been reported in Donetsk. Massive EW suppression of UAF military positions is currently underway. According to media outlet Russia 24, the UAF are engaged in massive artillery bombardment of militia defensive positions all along the front line. Explosions and small arms fire can be heard.
It is reported that 10 Bayraktar UCAVs have departed from the Kheinitsky aerodrome, presumably headed eastward. The International airports located at Kharkiv, Dnipro and Zaporozhye have been closed for all arriving and departing flights until 08:35 local time on February 24th. The runways have been physically blocked with vehicles in an attempt to prevent fixed wing air assault operations. The airport in Kherson is also preparing to halt all air traffic according to Ukrainian media.
Mayor Klitschko of Kiev has declared a state of emergency in the city and has established an operational coordination headquarters.
The Russian Armed Forces have declared a “No-Fly Zone” for all civil aviation encompassing the airspace along the northeastern border with Ukraine. A warning to this effect has been issued.
Russian Armed Forces vehicles and heavy equipment are advancing toward the front lines in the city of Donetsk.
At 03:00 local time, heavy artillery, Grad and Uragan MLRS batteries of the UAF have been bombarding civilian infrastructure in an attempt to destroy as much of this infrastructure as possible prior to the arrival of advanced Russian units deployed to the LOC.
Two Turkish military transport aircraft are currently enroute to Odessa.
What is currently unfolding now are the direct result of the developments that occurred over the preceding 48 hours following Russia’s formal recognition of the two breakaway republics of the DPR and LPR as sovereign, independent nations. When it became apparent that Western sanctions that followed failed to meet the promised level; of “Sanctions from Hell” as promised, the UAF began bombarding the territories east of the LOC in increasing intensity. This military escalation intensified against the backdrop of contradictory statements by Russian Foreign Ministry officials which began at approximately noon on February 22. Russian President Vladimir Putin later delivered a statement unequivocally clarifying the official Russian position regarding the sovereign borders of the two republics and the nature of the new treaties.
The tempo of bombardment on the part of the UAF then intensified up until the late evening and early morning hours of February 23. By the afternoon of that same day, units of the UAF attempted to breakthrough the front in several locations with the assistance of preparatory artillery bombardment with some success. This occurred prior to Russian military units being able to advance to defensive positions. By the early evening, the Ukrainian forces that has attempted to entrench themselves were dislodged and forced to retreat, apparently with the assistance of advanced Russian military units. Following these events, Ukrainian president Zelensky addressed the nation and enacted the closure of a number of airports as described.
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