With explosions heard across the country and Ukraine’s foreign minister warning of a “full-scale invasion,” Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a military operation in Ukraine.
Officials say dozens of people were murdered in the early hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with combat raging across the country. On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine, including air strikes and shelling against various cities and bases, as well as land and sea attacks.
In Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, sirens sounded, and massive explosions were reported there and in neighboring locations. More than 40 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and others were wounded in the first hours of the attack, according to Oleksii Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, while up to ten civilians were killed.
Three civilians were murdered and six others were injured in the eastern port city as a result of Russia’s invasion, said mayor of Mariupol. A youngster was murdered in eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region when shelling struck an apartment building, according to emergency services.
What do we know about the invasion?
Weeks of intense diplomacy and Western sanctions against Russia failed to deter Putin, who had amassed between 150,000 and 200,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders.
Russia has requested that NATO’s eastward expansion be halted and that Ukraine’s membership in the US-led military alliance be rejected.
Shelling had increased since Monday, when Putin declared two separatist regions independent and ordered the deployment of “peacekeepers,” a move that the West interpreted as the commencement of an invasion.
Western countries and Japan have retaliated by imposing restrictions on Russian banks and persons. Separatists appealed to Moscow on Wednesday for assistance in stopping purported Ukrainian aggression, which the US condemned as Russian propaganda.
As it looked that Russia was poised to attack, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an emotional speech to the country, warning that the conflict would be “a major calamity.”
“If they try to take our country, our freedom, our lives, our children’s lives away from us, we will defend ourselves,” he warned. Putin announced on Thursday morning that he had authorized military action to defend Russia against threats originating in Ukraine.
Russian missile strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure and border guards, according to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, with explosions reported in many cities. Uninterrupted cyberattacks, according to one official.
Martial law had been declared, according to Zelenskyy. Missiles hit military command centers in Kyiv and Kharkiv in the northeast, while Russian troops landed in the southern port cities of Odesa and Mariupol, Ukrainian media reported.
According to Ukraine’s border guard service, Russian troops assaulted Ukraine from Belarus as well as Russia with Belarusian support, and an attack was also launched from occupied Crimea.
Russia’s defense ministry said it had destroyed military installations and weakened Ukraine’s air defenses. Ukraine has restricted its airspace to civilian flights due to a high danger of safety, and Russia has halted domestic flights near its Ukrainian border until March 2.
Separatists backed by Russia in the east claimed to have taken control of two towns, according to the Russian news agency RIA.
Reactions after the attack
The invasion was met with immediate condemnation.
Putin has chosen a premeditated conflict that would result in “catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” according to US President Joe Biden, who has ruled out placing US soldiers on the ground in Ukraine. He pledged Russia would be held “accountable” and that he would meet with G7 leaders.
Russia’s “reckless and unprovoked strike” was criticized by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said NATO allies would meet to discuss the ramifications.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres encouraged Russia to take a step back from what he described as “the worst war since the dawn of the century,” with “consequences not just terrible for Ukraine, tragic for the Russian Federation, but with an impact we cannot even predict.”
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy leader, said Russia is facing “unprecedented isolation” as a result of its invasion on Ukraine, and that it will face the “harshest sanctions” the EU has ever imposed.
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