Ukraine’s military said on Thursday it had destroyed four Russian tanks on a road near the eastern city of Kharkiv, killed 50 troops near a town in Luhansk region and downed a sixth Russian aircraft, also in the country’s east.
Russia has denied reports that its aircraft or armoured vehicles have been destroyed.
Ukraine’s border guard service said that three of its servicemen had been killed in the southern Kherson region and that several more were wounded.
Russian troops launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, as President Vladimir Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”
Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of an invasion that could cause massive casualties, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government and threaten the post-Cold War balance on the continent.
Ukrainians started fleeing some cities, and the Russian military claimed to have incapacitated all of Ukraine’s air defenses and air bases within hours.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared martial law, saying Russia has targeted Ukraine’s military infrastructure. Ukrainians who had long braced for the prospect of an assault, while never knowing precisely when it would come, were urged to stay home and not to panic even as the country’s border guard agency reported an artillery barrage by Russian troops from neighboring Belarus.
11:40 Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Thursday he was against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine as he stood trial from prison after President Vladimir Putin launched an attack.
“I am against this war,” Navalny was heard saying in a video of the in-prison trial published by independent news outlet Dozhd.
“This war between Russia and Ukraine was unleashed to cover up the theft from Russian citizens and divert their attention from problems that exist inside the country,” he said.
Wearing a prison uniform, Navalny said the war would “lead to a huge number of victims, destroyed futures and the continuation of this line of impoverishment of the citizens of Russia.”
He is being tried inside the maximum security prison where he is held outside Moscow on fresh charges that could see his time behind bars extended by a decade.
His allies have said that the trial — which opened last week — has been purposefully timed to coincide with the Ukraine crisis.
Navalny has been behind bars for a year on old fraud charges, after surviving a poison attack he and the West blame on the Kremlin. (AFP)
11:45 Ukraine’s president Zelensky announces severance of diplomatic ties with Russia, Al Arabiya News reported.
11:20 The Ukrainian army announces the killing of 50 Russian soldiers and the shooting down of 6 planes in the east of the country, Al Arabiya News reported.
10:45 Asian stock markets have plunged and oil prices surged after President Vladimir Putin announced Russian military action in Ukraine.
Market benchmarks in Tokyo and Seoul fell 2% and Hong Kong and Sydney lost more than 3% Thursday. Oil prices jumped nearly $3 per barrel on unease about possible disruption of Russian supplies.
Earlier, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1.8% to an eight-month low after the Kremlin said rebels in eastern Ukraine asked for military assistance.
Investors already were uneasy about the possible impact of the Federal Reserve’s plans to try to cool inflation by withdrawing ultra-low interest rates and other stimulus that boosted share prices. (AP)
10:15 Biden in a written statement condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack,” and he promised that the U.S. and its allies would “hold Russia accountable.” The president said he planned to speak to Americans on Thursday after a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders. More sanctions against Russia were expected to be announced Thursday. (AP)
10:10 Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the assault as a “full-scale invasion” and said Ukraine will “defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”
In the capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko advised residents to stay home unless they are involved in critical work and urged them to prepare go-bags with necessities and documents if they need to evacuate. An Associated Press photographer in Mariupol reported hearing explosions and seeing dozens of people with suitcases heading for their cars to leave the city.
“We are facing a war and horror. What could be worse?” 64-year-old Liudmila Gireyeva said in Kyiv. She planned to head to the western city of Lviv and then to try to move to Poland to join her daughter. Putin “will be damned by history, and Ukrainians are damning him.” (AP)
9:50 The European Union says it is planning the “strongest, the harshest package” of sanctions it has ever considered at an emergency summit Thursday, as the Russian military attacked Ukraine.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that “the target is the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order, and we will hold President (Vladimir) Putin accountable for that.”
“We will present a package of massive and targeted sanctions to European leaders for approval,” she said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called it the “strongest, the harshest package” ever considered.
9:45 The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are condeming the Russian operation in Ukraine as a “crime against Ukrainian people.“
In a joint statement, the three countries’ foreign ministers condemned strongly “the open large scale Russian aggression against the independent, peaceful and democratic Ukraine.”
They called it “a blatant violation of the international law, of all international norms and a crime against Ukrainian people that we condemn.”
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said the Russian move is “an attack on the security order throughout Europe.” (AP)
9:30 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Western allies will not stand by as Russia attacks Ukraine.
In an early morning call, Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that he was appalled by events in Ukraine, according to a statement released by the prime minister’s office.
“The Prime Minister said the West would not stand by as President Putin waged his campaign against the Ukrainian people,” Johnson’s office said in the statement.
Johnson added that Ukraine was in the thoughts of everyone in the U.K. “during this dark time.”
9:20 Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned Russia’s military actions in the Ukraine and said his country will respond in a speedy fashion in concert with the United States and other allies.
“This Russian invasion stands to put at risk the basic principle of international order that forbids one-sided action of force in an attempt to change the status quo. We strongly condemn Russia, and we will respond speedily in cooperation with the U.S. and other Western nations,” he said at his official residence in Tokyo.
Spain, France, Australia and Italy were among others condemning the attack. Germany and Turkey also warned their citizens in Ukraine to stay in a safe place. (AP)
9:10 The European Union Aviation Safety Agency is telling air operators of a high risk to civilian aircraft over Ukraine, reminding air operators that “this is now an active conflict zone.”
In the bulletin issued early Thursday, EASA said that “airspace and critical infrastructure, including airports, are exposed to military activities which result in safety risks for civil aircraft. In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft.”
It added: “The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a HIGH risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels.”
It recommended that, “additionally, as a precautionary measure, operators should exercise extreme caution and avoid using the airspace” within 100 nautical miles of the Belarusian- and Russia-Ukraine border.
9:08 French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday strongly condemned Russia’s military action against Ukraine and vowed that Paris would work with allies to try to end the conflict.
“Russia must immediately put an end to its military operations,” Macron wrote on Twitter, saying Russia had made the decision to “wage war” on Ukraine.
“France stands in solidarity with Ukraine. It stands by Ukrainians and is working with its partners and allies to end the war,” he added.
Macron had repeatedly spoken to President Vladimir Putin seeking a diplomatic solution to the standoff but to no avail. (AFP)
9:00 Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is ending his two-day visit to Moscow hours after Russia began a military operation in Ukraine.
Pakistani government officials have offered few details on the substance of Khan’s visit, which was planned more than a month ago and was expected to focus on Pakistan’s energy needs. It was the first visit to Moscow by a Pakistani leader in more than 20 years.
Khan was to have met with Russian President Vladimir Putin following his arrival on Wednesday, though the foreign ministry has not spoken of it. Khan’s decision to still go ahead with the visit despite a growing fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine surprised some analysts.
In recent years Pakistan has grown closer to Russia, which has traditional ties with Islamabad’s long-time foe and neighbor India. Russia and Pakistan have shared military exercises and grown closer as peace was sought to the relentless conflict in Afghanistan. (AP)
8:55 NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has convened a meeting of NATO ambassadors to assess the invasion of Ukraine, which borders several NATO members.
The meeting Thursday morning will “address the situation in Ukraine and the consequences of Russia’s unprovoked attack.”
Earlier, Stoltenberg had already condemned Russia’s invasion. “Despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression,” Stoltenberg said.
He also warned Moscow that the alliance will will “do all it takes to protect and defend” NATO members.
He called the invasion a “grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security. I call on Russia to cease its military action immediately.” (AP)
8:30 The Russian military says it has knocked out Ukraine’s air defense assets and airbases.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the Russian strikes have “suppressed air defense means of the Ukrainian military,” adding that the infrastructure of Ukraine’s military bases has been incapacitated.” It denied the claims that a Russian warplane was shot down over Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military, meanwhile, reported that it has shot down five Russian aircraft while fending off the Russian attack on the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he unleashed an attack on Ukraine in a televised address early Thursday, drawing international condemnation. (AP)
8:15 China is advising its people in Ukraine to stay home because of ongoing military actions and chaos but made no mention of Russian forces.
The notice issued on its Kyiv embassy’s social media account Thursday said: “Social order is chaotic and out of control, especially in the cities where at times of serious unrest.“
It said a person walking on the streets could be a target of attack and traffic could be stopped at any time. It added that people should remain calm and contact local authorities if they come into danger.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the military operation in eastern Ukraine early Thursday.
China has denounced sanctions against Russia, with which it has increasingly aligned its foreign policy to challenge the West, and blamed the U.S. and its allies for provoking Moscow.
7:50 The top European Union chiefs said the invasion of Ukraine “will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia” and that more sanction will be in the offing.
The 27-nation bloc already issued sanctions on Russia for its recognition of breakaway republics in Ukraine earlier this week, and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and foreign policy chief Josep Borrell “will outline a further sanctions package.”
The 27 EU leaders will discuss them later Thursday at a summit meeting and they could be imposed soon after.
7:45 Ukraine’s border guard agency confirmed that the Russian military has attacked the country from neighboring Belarus.
The agency said that the Russian troops unleashed artillery barrage as part of an attack backed by Belarus. They said the Ukrainian border guards were firing back, adding that there was no immediate report of casualties.
Russian troops have deployed to its ally Belarus for military drills, a move that the West saw as a prelude to an invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv is about 75 kilometers (50 miles) south of the border with Belarus. (AP)
7:30 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has sharply condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine calling it “a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe.”
The chancellor said Thursday morning that “the Russian attack on Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law. It cannot be justified by anything.”
He added that “Germany condemns this reckless act by President Putin in the strongest possible terms.”
Scholz said in a written statement that “our solidarity is with Ukraine and its people. Russia must stop this military action immediately.“
He added Germany would coordinate closely with others within the framework of the Group of Seven, NATO and the European Union. (AP)
7:00 U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says Russia’s attack on Ukraine – as he appealed for President Vladimir Putin to stop his troops – was “the saddest moment” of his five-year tenure.
The U.N. chief opened the emergency Security Council meeting by urgently appealing to Putin: “In the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia.“
But during the meeting, Putin announced early Thursday that he was launching a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine.
Guterres later urged the Russian president to withdraw his troops and added: “In the name of humanity do not allow to start in Europe what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century, with consequences not only devastating for Ukraine, not only tragic for the Russian Federation, but with an impact we cannot even foresee in relation to the consequences for the global economy.”
“What is clear for me is that this war doesn’t make any sense,” Guterres said, stressing that it violates the U.N. Charter and will cause a level of suffering if it doesn’t stop that Europe hasn’t know since at least the 1990s Balkans crisis.