A CNN reporter covering the war in Ukraine was caught in the middle of a live TV shootout between Russian special forces and Ukrainian defenders at an important airport just outside Kiev.
Russian and Ukrainian soldiers exchanged fire in a battle for control of Gostomel Airport, a cargo airport near Kiev, minutes after CNN’s Matthew Chance began talking to Russian soldiers he first thought were Ukrainians.
Russian special forces have landed at the air base to establish a bridgehead for more troops and the takeover of the airport.
Chance, shocked to learn that he was talking to Russian airborne troops, found himself in the middle of a counterattack by Ukrainian troops.
The footage shows Chance and his colleague, both wearing bulletproof vests with the “press”, crouching against a wall while a car stops and several others on his team storming in so the group can avoid a shootout.
A CNN reporter filmed an intense shootout between Russian special forces and Ukrainian defenders in front of Antonov Airport on Thursday afternoon
The two forces fought for control of Gostomel Airport (Gostomel), a cargo airport near Kiev, which is vital for the defense of the capital.
CNN’s Matthew Chance was seen in a bulletproof vest trying to avoid a shootout
The footage was taken by several others from the invading CNN team so that the group could avoid the exchange of gunfire.
Airborne units are considered elite forces, specially selected for their skills and ability to parachute during the initial attack.
They attacked and captured Gostomel Airport early Thursday, and Ukraine’s leadership has promised to bring it back, according to Agence France-Presse.
“Enemy paratroopers in Hostomel have been blocked and troops have been ordered to destroy them,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message.
Hostomel is located in the northwestern suburbs of Kiev, which makes it vital to protect the Ukrainian capital from takeover by Russia.
Witnesses told AFP that they saw a helicopter flying low over the airport and fighter jets firing missiles at Ukrainian troops.
“There was a shooting then.” It lasted three hours. Then three more planes flew in and they started firing again, “an unidentified local told AFP.
Ukraine’s leadership said it regained control on Thursday at around 8 p.m. local time.
An adviser to the Ukrainian president said on Facebook on Thursday night: “Hostomel Airport is ours” and “Russian paratroopers have been destroyed.”
Russian forces attacked and seized the airport early Thursday, and Ukraine’s leadership has promised to bring it back.
Ukraine’s leadership says it has regained control after intense fighting, although the current state of the airport is unclear.
Witnesses told AFP that they saw a helicopter flying low over the airport and fighter jets firing missiles at Ukrainian troops
“The base there is smoking, it is bombed, our houses are nearby. We don’t know where to run, my parents are here, my sister, “58-year-old Lyudmila Klimova, who lives nearby, told AFP.
“Russian troops are there, a friend of mine lives there, and the Russians have already approached his mother with a machine gun,” she added.
Alexander Kovtonenko, 30, who lives near the airport, said he saw two fighter jets launch missiles at Ukrainian ground forces earlier Thursday.
“There was a shooting then, it lasted three hours. “Then three more planes flew in and they started firing again,” he told AFP.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces in a 20:00 local time update (13:00 ET) said it believed more than 60 Russian battalion tactical groups – the equivalent of between 30,000 and 60,000 troops – had been stationed on Ukrainian territory.
It says that “the enemy has extremely low morale.”
Russian president Vladimir Putin sent troops early Thursday in what he called a “special military operation.”
Prior to the invasion, analysts and intelligence experts estimated that Putin had up to 190,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders in various places.
Before dawn broke, Russian forces attacked from the south, through the Crimea; from the east, with the city of Kharkiv under strong pressure; and from the north, with troops from both Russia and Belarus crossing the Belarusian border in tanks.
The National Guard of Ukraine shared a photo of soldiers who, according to them, repulsed the Russian airborne troops at the airport
Heavy explosions were heard in the vicinity of the capital Kiev in the early hours of Thursday, and US authorities said they expect the city to fall by the end of the weekend.
General George Joulvan, who commanded NATO during the Balkan War, said Thursday night that he expects Kiev to fall within 24-36 hours.
As Thursday night fell, residents sought shelter in the city’s deep subway system, knowing it was likely an enclosure at night.
Smoke was seen rising over the city in the afternoon, and one blow is believed to have struck near a railway bridge in central Kiev.
The National Guard of Ukraine posted on Twitter a photo of three young soldiers holding a bullet-riddled Ukrainian flag.
They signed the photo: “Guards with their flag, torn to pieces after today’s battle.
‘Congratulations to all of you and say we will win!’