Russia launches full invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea


Smoke is seen coming out of a military installation near the airport, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Mariupol, February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Barria


Smoke is seen coming out of a military installation near the airport, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Mariupol, February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Russia launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea on Thursday, the biggest state-on-state attack in Europe since World War II and confirmation of the West’s worst fears.

Russian missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities. Ukraine reported columns of troops crossing its borders in the eastern regions of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Luhansk, and landing by sea in the southern cities of Odessa and Mariupol.

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Explosions could be heard before dawn in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Gunfire erupted near the main airport and sirens sounded throughout the city.

A resident of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, the closest major city to the Russian border, said windows in buildings rattled from the constant blasts. The town was gripped by panic as people tried to flee, said the resident, who asked not to be identified.

Ukrainian President Volodymur Zelenskiy has said Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s goal is to destroy his state.

“Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are being hit,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.

“This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and win. The world can and must stop Putin. It’s time to act.”

At least eight people were killed and nine were injured by Russian shelling, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister said.

Putin said in a televised address that he had ordered ‘a special military operation’ to protect the population, including Russian citizens who had been victims of ‘genocide’ in Ukraine, a charge the West has long branded absurd propaganda.

“And for that we will fight for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine,” Putin said. “Russia cannot feel safe, develop and exist with a constant threat emanating from the territory of modern Ukraine… Any responsibility for the bloodshed will lie with the conscience of the ruling regime in Ukraine.”

Ukraine, a democratic country of 44 million people with over 1,000 years of history, is Europe’s largest country by land area after Russia itself. He voted overwhelmingly for independence from Moscow after the fall of the Soviet Union and says he aims to join NATO and the European Union.

Putin, who for months denied he was planning an invasion, called Ukraine an artificial creation carved out of Russia by enemies, a characterization Ukrainians say is shocking and false.

US President Joe Biden said his prayers are with the people of Ukraine “as they come under unprovoked and unwarranted attack”, while pledging tough sanctions in response.

He would meet with G7 leaders, he said.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell also promised the toughest financial sanctions the bloc has ever imposed.

“These are among Europe’s darkest hours since World War II,” Borrell said.

The full scope of the Russian military operation was not immediately clear, but Putin said: “Our plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything by force.”

Speaking as the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting in New York, Putin said he had ordered Russian forces to protect the people and called on Ukraine’s military to lay down their arms.

Zelenskiy called on world leaders to impose all possible sanctions on Russia, including Putin.

Three hours after Putin gave his order, the Russian Defense Ministry said he had destroyed military infrastructure at Ukrainian airbases and degraded its air defenses, Russian media reported.

Earlier, Ukrainian media reported that military command centers in Kyiv and the northeastern city of Kharkiv were hit by missiles, while Russian troops landed in southern port cities of Odessa. and Mariupol.

A Reuters witness then heard three loud explosions in Mariupol. Russian-backed separatists in the east later said they had captured two towns, the RIA news agency reported. Ukrainian authorities had no immediate comment.

Russia has announced that it is closing all shipping in the Sea of ​​Azov. Russia controls the strait leading to the sea where Ukraine has ports, including Mariupol.

Hours before the start of the invasion, the separatists appealed for Moscow’s help in ending alleged Ukrainian aggression – claims the United States has dismissed as Russian propaganda.

Global stocks and US bond yields plunged, while the dollar and gold soared after Putin’s speech. Brent oil rose above $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014.


Lines of people waited to withdraw cash and buy food and water in Kyiv. Traffic was blocked west of the city towards the Polish border. Western countries have prepared for the likelihood of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing an onslaught.

Biden, who has ruled out putting US troops on the ground in Ukraine, said Putin chose a premeditated war that would result in catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.

“Russia bears sole responsibility for the death and destruction this attack will cause, and the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive manner,” said Biden, who spoke by phone with Zelenskiy.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Russia’s action while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO allies would come together to deal with the consequences of “the reckless attack and not provoked” from Russia.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking after the Security Council meeting, made a last-minute appeal for Putin to end the war “in the name of humanity”.

China, which signed a friendship treaty with Russia three weeks ago, reiterated an appeal to all parties to exercise restraint and rejected a description of Russia’s action as a invasion.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Putin had chosen “the path of bloodshed and destruction”.

Ukraine has closed its airspace to civilian flights, citing a high security risk, while the European aviation regulator has warned of the dangers of flying in areas bordering Russia and Belarus.


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