On Thursday, Vladimir Putin’s steady march of Russian troops into Ukraine escalated into a full-scale invasion, with forces storming the country by land, air, and sea. News outlets have reported it’s the greatest attack on a European state since World War II.
Minutes after Putin declared a “special military operation” in a televised broadcast, explosions and the sound of gunfire split skies over the capital of Kyiv just before dawn. As residents fled through traffic-choked highways, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky called upon citizens to defend their country, promising arms to anybody willing to fight. More than 40 Ukrainian soldiers were reportedly killed in the early conflict, and dozens more were wounded. Just moments ago, Kremlin soldiers defeated local forces to capture the radioactive zone of the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
The assault came after months of rising tensions as Russia amassed arsenals of tanks and artillery and strengthened its manpower along the border. But Putin has long itched to control Ukraine, which was once part of the Soviet empire before achieving independence in 1991. Diplomatic efforts and sanctions from the United Nations and Washington, D.C. ultimately collapsed, as did a last-ditch plea from Ukraine’s government hours before the attack: “Listen to the voice of reason . . . the Ukrainian people want peace,” Zelensky said in a public appeal to Moscow. Then, the missiles launched.
Here’s what the front pages of newspapers around the world looked like Thursday morning:
— Wolf Blitzer (@wolfblitzer) February 24, 2022
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 24, 2022
Tonight's front page of @EveningStandard
— Elliot Wagland (@elliotwagland) February 24, 2022
“Russians, go home!” – New front page of a Budapest daily compares Putin’s attack on Ukraine to the Soviet military interventions crushing the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the 1968 Prague Spring. https://t.co/lQjYaemTMl
— Szabolcs Panyi (@panyiszabolcs) February 24, 2022
The Finnish left-wing newspaper Kansan Uutiset (People’s News) condemns Putin’s invasion of #Ukraine on its front page.
The wording is deliberately the same as on the 1968 front page when the paper condemned the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. #UkraineCrisis https://t.co/toAd3h1nfA pic.twitter.com/Q6DmhN3wAY —Tuomas Tammisto (@tutamAW) February 23, 2022
— Business Ukraine mag (@Biz_Ukraine_Mag) February 23, 2022
Vatican newspaper front page: ‘Ukraine under Attack: the Darkest Hour’. Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin: "We believers do not lose hope for a glimmer of conscience in those who hold the destinies of the world in their hands.” pic.twitter.com/AobahCtf09
— Austen Ivereigh (@austeni) February 24, 2022
Sydney Morning Herald’s front page for Friday: pic.twitter.com/vyScdcdQgg
— Simon Cullen (@Simon_Cullen) February 24, 2022
If only the English language had a word for this kind of event pic.twitter.com/yPQ2FdjFjW
— ChristopherDBennett (@C_D_Bennett) February 24, 2022
Russia Invades Ukraine – Banner headlines in newspapers throughout the U.S. this morning. pic.twitter.com/rb7NnalHOd
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) February 24, 2022
But while most headlines communicated solidarity with Ukraine, some outliers have surfaced. Unsurprisingly, the sentiment in Pravda, the Russian state-controlled broadsheet, was markedly different:
Pravda comedic this morning pic.twitter.com/G72DN2Q0F3
— Azeem Azhar (@azeem) February 24, 2022
As was that of a tabloid in Serbia, a Russian ally often caught in the crossfires of Moscow’s Ukrainian campaigns:
Tomorrows headline of a Serbian ???????? tabloid claims, that Ukraine attacked Russia. pic.twitter.com/A6Y5TdbrAU
— FranziskaTschinderle (@tschinderle) February 21, 2022
Meanwhile, major Russian ally China’s state-controlled media made only brief, buried references to the invasion:
Among the front page of three major state-run media in #China, only @globaltimesnews' Chinese version has a very small corner mentioned the #UkraineRussiaCrisis . This is how their front page look like: pic.twitter.com/cxxPfOdUEf
— William Yang (@WilliamYang120) February 24, 2022
And finally, there were those that—rather than acknowledging the humanitarian crisis—were pilloried for giving focus to this sort of trifling:
"So, what was your front page on the historic day when Russia invaded Ukraine starting the war?"
Daily Mail: pic.twitter.com/ikBkQo1RBA
— Jakub Krupa (@JakubKrupa) February 24, 2022
Yet, despite it all, Ukraine still stands tall. Here, a recent magazine cover embodies its fighting spirit:
Even in the darkest times, Ukrainians do not lose their sense of humor. Here, a cover of this week's NV, a major Ukrainian news magazine. The headline reads 'The Kremlin Madhouse'. Btw, they also have an English website with the latest from Ukraine https://t.co/4hURrkY83D pic.twitter.com/lcrOjZmHxU
— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) February 23, 2022