August 10, 2023

The Battle of Hostomel Airport: A Key Moment in Russia’s Defeat in Kyiv

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks.

The battle for Hostomel Airport was the first major battle of the Russo-Ukrainian War (2022-present) and a decisive event in the war. This battle started on the morning of February 24 and lasted less than 36 hours. In the opening hours of the Russo-Ukrainian war Russian forces sought to seize a key airfield just 12 miles from the capital’s center. Additional airborne battalions would follow on transport planes. They would rapidly deploy, seek to take control of the city, and overthrow the government or make the leadership flee. Russia ultimately gained control of the airport but failed to achieve the objective of the assault. Ukrainian National Guard conscripts, backed by artillery units, were able to delay the elite Russian airborne troops long enough to prevent the Russian military from using the airfield as an airbridge to support a rapid seizure of Ukraine’s capital.


The actions of individual commanders, soldiers, and citizens can and did have a profound impact in a pivotal battle that would help decide the course of the war.

Russia’s primary objective was to take control of Kyiv within 3-4 days. Vladimir Putin believed that if the Russian military could reach the capital quickly enough, President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government would capitulate, the population could be subdued, and a pro-Russian regime installed before effective resistance could be mobilized or the international community could react. This is undoubtedly why some senior U.S. officials, in the run up to the war, thought that Kyiv could fall within 72 hours.

Read the full article and more from War on the Rocks.

  • Podcast
    • March 22, 2024
    Putin’s Fifth Term and Russian Domestic Politics

    This past weekend, Russians went to the polls for the country’s presidential election. To the surprise of no one, Vladimir Putin emerged victorious with a record-high 87 perce...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Dr. Angela Stent & Joshua Yaffa

  • Commentary
    • POLITICO Europe
    • March 5, 2024
    What NATO allies must do to prepare for Russian aggression

    While it’s expensive to do what’s necessary to deter major aggression, it would be far more expensive to fight a major war if deterrence fails....

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor & Greg Weaver

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • March 1, 2024
    Ukrainians Are Resilient—But They Still Need Washington

    Beyond material support, my visit made clear that the psychological effect of global solidarity, especially from the United States, remains vital...

    By Richard Fontaine

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • February 27, 2024
    NATO’s Confusion Over the Russia Threat

    NATO should not take the Russian military’s poor performance in Ukraine as a reason to be complacent....

    By Franz-Stefan Gady

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia