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.

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