Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, with explosions heard across the country and Russian tanks entering Ukrainian territories. Here’s a look at the most significant developments from today and how the situation unfolded:
In an unscheduled television address on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he “decided to conduct a special military operation.” Putin claimed the “operation” was to “protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide … for the last eight years,” or since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea. Moscow-backed separatists have fought the government’s forces in eastern Ukraine ever since.
The Russian government claimed hours earlier that separatist leaders had requested military help to fend off what they called Ukrainian “aggression.” Putin said, “We will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.” At an emergency UN Security Council meeting, Russia’s envoy Vassily Nebenzia said the “operation” was targeting “the junta” in power in Kyiv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected to office in an election in 2019.
Air raid sirens sounded over the Ukrainian capital at the break of dawn. The Ukrainian leadership said at least 40 soldiers had been killed so far by Russian airstrikes. Zelenskyy declared martial law and said Russia was attacking his country’s “military infrastructure.” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes.” “This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now,” he added. Ukraine’s border guard reported that Russian tanks entered Ukraine in the Luhansk region and Crimea. Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had neutralized Ukrainian military airbases and air defense systems.
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