On February 21, 2022, the Russian government claimed that Ukrainian bombing destroyed a FSB border facility on the Russian-Ukrainian border, and claimed to have killed 5 Ukrainian soldiers who tried to cross into Russian territory. Ukraine denied involvement in both incidents, calling them false flag. On the same day, the Russian government officially recognized the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic as independent states, according to Putin, not only in the regions it de facto controlled, but the Ukrainian oblast as a whole,

Putin ordered Russian forces, including tanks, to enter these areas.

On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine by Russian armed forces previously concentrated along the border. The invasion was followed by air strikes targeting military buildings in the country, as well as the entry of tanks across the Belarus border. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared martial law throughout Ukraine. Air raid sirens were heard across Ukraine for most of the day. Ukraine's ICT infrastructure has already deteriorated as a result of cyberattacks and Russian bombing. Many Ukrainian cities or buildings were occupied, including the Chernobyl nuclear plant. However, according to a US defense official, Russian forces are "encountering more resistance than I expected."