Ukraine under martial law as Russia launches initial attack

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has declared martial law on Thursday as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Zelenskyy said Russia was attacking his country’s “military infrastructure” and border guards but urged the citizens not to panic and just stay at their homes.

“Ukraine would win,” he assured.

At Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, at least seven loud explosions were heard early Thursday while power had been cut off, sending jitters to residents who claimed there’s chaos in the city center.

There were also explosions in the eastern city of Donetsk while Interfax Ukraine reported rocket attacks on military facilities throughout Ukraine.

Reports also said that Russian troops had landed in the southern cities of Odessa and Mariupol.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed on Twitter that 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,” Kuleba said.

Zelenskyy said he had sent invitations to Putin to hold talks, but claimed the Russian president did not send any reply.

“I initiated a telephone call with the president of the Russian federation. Result: silence. The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace. But if we come under attack that would threaten our freedom and the lives of our people, we will fight back,” Zelenskyy said.

Putin’s announcement, made at the same time when the United Nations (UN) Security Council met for an emergency meeting, will pave way for a major Russian military operation in multiple cities across Ukraine.

Putin said the military operation is in response to the “call for help” by Ukrainian separatists in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

“Russia does not have a goal to occupy Ukraine. But the responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian regime,” he said, citing that the move is to “demilitarize” the country and bring those who committed crimes to justice.

Putin warned other nations not to interfere or they will face “consequences they have never seen.”

“Whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history,” he said, while urging Ukrainian servicemen to “immediately put down arms and go home.”

In a statement, the Russian defense ministry said Thursday they are targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure with precision weapons and assured “there is no threat to civilian population.”

“Military infrastructure, air defense facilities, military airfields, and aviation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are being disabled with high-precision weapons,” the defense ministry said.

At the UN Security Council emergency meeting, Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia claimed that the military operation against Ukraine targets “the junta” in power in Kyiv.

“I wanted to say in conclusion that we aren’t being aggressive against the Ukrainian people, but against the junta that is in power in Kyiv,” Nebenzia said.

United States President Joe Biden condemned Russia’s recent move, calling it an “unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces.”

After the initial attack, Biden spoke to Zelenskyy and briefed the Ukrainian president on the US and its allies’ planned next steps against Russia, which he said included “severe sanctions.”

Biden pledged that the world will “hold Russia accountable.”

The European Union (EU) also vowed to hold Russia ‘accountable’ for the ‘unjustified’ attack.

“We strongly condemn Russia’s unjustified attack on Ukraine. In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” said EU chief Ursula von der Leyen.

Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), also condemned the attack and said NATO allies will meet to address Russia’s latest move.

“We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend allies,” Stoltenberg said.

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