HORRIFIC video appears to show the moment that Russian helicopter gunships swept over Ukraine to attack an airport just miles from Kyiv.
Russian choppers can be seen hurtling over the landscape as as they attacked the military base at Gostomel Airport.
Ukrainian officials said they managed to down at least three of the aircraft – but the Russians had managed to seize control of the area.
In some of most dramatic footage of the invasion so far, the helicopters are seen flying low and appearing to be firing flares as they moved in.
Smoke is seen rising in the background from the devastated landscape amid the bloodshed which has plunged Europe into a new crisis.
The craft are believed to be a mix of Ka-52 Alligators, Mi-8s and Mi-24 military attack helicopters.
It came after Vladimir Putin declared WAR on Ukraine with overnight barrage of artillery, airstrikes and missiles.
The tyrant declared a “special military operation” in Ukraine with a dawn raid after months of amassing his forces on the border and brazenly lying to the world about his plans to invade.
The world is waking up to what could the most horrific crisis since World War 2 as Putin seeks to tear down the world order.
His full scale invasion of Ukraine is all part of his deluded plan to rebuild the Soviet Union amid his paranoid fears over Nato.
Ukrainians faced the sound of booming explosions and blaring air raid sirens as missiles, airstrikes and artillery shells fell on their homeland.
He chillingly warned the West that there would be “consequences greater than any you have faced in history” if there are any moves to interfere with the invasion.
Moments later the first powerful explosions were reported as armoured columns were spotted moving towards the border.
And this morning just as Ukraine was assessing the damage, a second wave of missile strikes came hammering down.
Global leaders have condemned Russia and pledged to stand with Ukraine – with the world now just one false move from what could become World War 3.
Russia has some 200,000 soldiers ready to move in – encircling the north, south and east of Ukraine.
And the Kremlin has said the operation will last “as long as necessary”.
It comes as:
Hundreds are already feared to have been killed or wounded in a conflict that could kill tens of thousands and displace millions.
“This is just the start – we have intelligence that a bigger second wave is coming,” a Ukrainian military told The Sun.
“There will be bombs, ballistic missiles and multiple attacks – this is more than our worst fears.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Putin had “chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction”, while US President Joe Biden described the assault as an “unprovoked and unjustified attack”
With the fog of war descending, getting information out of the war-torn nation remains difficult.
Russian forces allegedly told border guards “if you resist, we will destroy you” as they rolled into Ukraine.
🔵 Read our Russia – Ukraine live blog for the very latest updates
Ukraine claims it shot down six Russian planes and has killed at least 50 of Putin’s troops in the opening flurry of action, with Moscow suffering “heavy losses”.
Meanwhile, at least 40 of Kyiv’s troops have been killed with dozens wounded.
Civilian casualties, with at least 10 dead, have already been reported across Ukraine – including a child being hurt by Russian fire in Mariupol.
Pictures showed blood drenched civilians and people fleeing for their lives.
And one horror video showed a cyclist being blown up in a strike in the Vinnytsia region.
Addressing his bloodied and bruised nation, Ukrainian president Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged his people to fight for their homes.
“This is a morning which will go down in history – Russia has taken the path of evil,” he said.
“Russia has attacked our state in a cunning way like Nazi Germany did in World War 2.”
Zelenskyy said the government will provide weapons to people who want them and urged anyone with military experience to step forward.
He added: “We will fight for our country and we will support our country in the squares of each town.”
Mr Zelenskyy added the armed forces are “ready”, Ukraine will not give up its independence, and urged people to make blood donations.
To anyone who would consider interfering from outside: If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history
Ministry advisor Anton Herashchenko said Russian troops had landed in Odessa and separately were moving into Kharkiv.
Herashchenko said: “Either Ukraine and the world will stop the new Hitler now, or there will be a Third World War.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, has told his Russian counterpart: “There is no purgatory for war criminals.
“They go straight to hell.”
Major General Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander of the Ukrainian armed forces, was given orders to inflict “maximum losses” against the invading Russians.
Following the initial barrage, Russian troops are believed to have moved up to three miles deep into Ukrainian territory in Kharkiv and Chernihiv.
The goal of the first wave is believed to have been a bid to rout Ukraine’s military, but Kyiv is understood to be standing firm.
Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said “our army is fighting back inflicting significant losses to the enemy”, and another advisor, Oleksii Arestovich, said their army remains ready to fight.
Putin’s invasion is earth-shattering follow up to his annexation of Crimea which he snatched from his neighbour in 2014
It was that assault which sparked a rebel conflict in the country’s eastern Donbas region – with Putin just days ago formerly recognising the separatist states as a prelude to his attack.
Russia has long been furious over the fact Ukraine has grown closer with the West since the break up of the Soviet Union – and fears it could one day join Nato.
Putin also launched a prong of its attack from neighbouring Belarus – where Putin has been shameless wooing its leader Alexander Lukashenko, a man known as “Europe’s last dictator”.
CCTV showed Russian military forces seemingly crossing the border into Ukraine from Belarus, and also from captured Crimea.
Explosions erupted across the country with reports of airstrikes and missiles falling on key infrastructure in the first wave.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry has placed the nation under martial law – and civilians have started to flee their homes.
Police sources reported explosions as air raid sirens blared as far west as Lviv – where embassies including Britain’s relocated last week.
Putin justified his bloody assault in a televised address – making false claims about “protecting” Russians in eastern Ukraine.
He had always been predicted to use a phoney humanitarian crisis a pretext for an invasion.
President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine
The tyrant accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and for security guarantees.
The former KGB enforcer also claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarize” and “de-Nazify” it – bringing those who committed “crimes” to justice.
And in a chilling warning to the West he added: “To anyone who would consider interfering from outside: If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history.”
Unconfirmed reports and pictures of wreckage suggested a Russian drone had been shot down near Kyiv.
Access to the Black Sea and Azov Sea was cut off as an amphibious landing from a tanker and helicopter aircraft was reported near the southern port of Odessa.
A string of explosions were also heard across Odessa as an aerial bombardment got underway.
ONE FALSE MOVE COULD START WW3
ONE wrong move in the Russia and Ukraine crisis could spark a nuclear war as Vladimir Putin is acting just like Hitler, warned Admiral Lord West.
Speaking in the days before the invasion, the former First Sea Lord issued the dire warning should Putin launch an assault on Ukraine.
The 73-year-old told The Sun Online: “This is extremely dangerous. The risk of a miscalculation could lead to a war in Europe which could then become a global conflict – and the use of nuclear weapons.
“There is no doubt Putin wants to control the Ukraine – if he can do that without too much pain, he will do it. And the threat won’t go away.
“If he is successful, he will be tempted to try and do something against one of the European countries.
“And that will inevitably lead to a war between Russia and Nato and inevitably lead to the use of nuclear weapons.”
Lord West also warned Putin is becoming more “unpredictable” – and increasingly behaving in the same way as Hitler once did.
He said: “Putin is going the way so many dictators are, becoming unpredictable and not acting in a rational manner, rather in the same way as Hitler.
“Whilst he loves the idea of the Russia empire, he actually doesn’t really care about the Russians and a leader with his power is highly dangerous.
“Hitler created all sorts of the same excuses in the same way as Putin is.
“Putin wants to overturn the world order and go back to the Soviet Union – where he effectively controls them. He thinks all these countries should be in the thrall of Russia.”
More blasts and gunfire echoed across the northern city of Kharkiv – just 20 miles from the Russian border.
Power outages were feared to have rocked Kyiv at around 6.30am as lights went out answer heard an enormous blast to the soon after at 6.37am.
Then at 7.05am sirens began blaring across the capital for the first time as frightened locals braced themselves for a bomb blitz.
Putin’s forces were understood to be targeting command and control centres in the first phase of the attack – while troops entered Odessa and Ukraine’s other main southern city, Maruipol.
A single large explosion echoed over Severodonetsk and long queues formed at petrol station as residents prepared to flee.
The pre-dawn assault spread panic in frontline Luhansk district which has suffered sporadic shelling for days.
“We have to leave now, before it’s too late,” said a terrified resident.
But elsewhere commuters appeared to make their way to work as usual – unfazed by the fears of a bloodbath.
Heavy explosions were also reported in Kramatorsk, home to a Ukrainian military base.
A spokesman for Ukrainian ground forces claimed to have shot down five enemy aircraft and one helicopter near Luhansk in early exchanges of fire.
Video also appeared to show a ferocious firefight on the outskirts of Kharkiv as Russian forces advanced.
Major fighting was also reported near the border between annexed Crimea and Ukraine where Ukrainian commanders claimed to have repelled a Russian incursion.
The first signs of panic emerged on the streets of Kyiv as distant booms rocked the city, when long queues began forming at cash machines.
But electricity and gas supplies appeared to be holding up during the first phase of the attack as civic leaders pleaded for calm.
Long queues also began forming at petrol stations as panic buyers clamoured to stock up fuel to flee the mounting chaos.
Announcing his long-feared assault, pariah president Putin said he had launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
In a televised address, he urged Ukrainian soldiers who are facing off Russian-backed rebels to lay down weapons and return to their homes.
The lying strongman said Russia did not plan to occupy Ukraine – but warned that Moscow’s response would be “instant” if anyone tries to take on Russia.
Metadata identifying the timings of Putin’s declaration of war video showed it was recorded on the evening of 21 February, but only broadcast early today.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry says the “fighting spirit of the Ukrainian military is high, our defenders are ready to repel the aggressor state”.
Defiant Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes. This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin.
“The time to act is now.”
US President Joe Biden said Washington and its allies would respond in a united and decisive way to “an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces” on Ukraine.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Mr Biden said.
“The world will hold Russia accountable.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to President Zelensky to discuss next steps.
“President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine.
“The UK and our allies will respond decisively.”
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/17756778/russia-helicopters-ukraine-airport-attack/ Chilling footage shows swarm of Russian helicopter gunships blitzing Ukraine airport as Putin launches invasion