After months of preparations and failed diplomatic efforts, Russian forces have begun a large-scale military operation that has targeted not only Ukraine’s breakaway provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk, but basically every major Ukrainian city.
Ukraine’s capital has also been under attack with constant artillery fire and first cruise missile attacks already recorded.
Explosions have been so far heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Kramatorsk, while shelling in the Russian-backed separatist territories has been somewhat of a constant over the past days.
While reports initially said Russian troops had landed in Odessa, this was disputed by the Ukrainian military.
Information available so far indicates that an advance into Ukraine is coming from Crime, Belgorod and Belarus, in an operation that seems to have been designed to achieve objectives fast. Exactly what the objectives of the operation are remains to be seen.
Russian news outlet said Russian strikes are targeting military infrastructure, including air bases and defenses as well as naval bases.
Unconfirmed Reports coming in from Ukraine say that the Belarussian military was also involved in the invasion.
The attack comes a day after Putin announced that he had decided to “conduct a special military operation” in connection with the situation in the Donbass.
“I have decided to conduct a special military operation. Its goal is to protect people who have been subjected to harassment and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years. And for this we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. As well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation,” Putin said.
Several hours after the invasion started, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted that he had already talked to US president Joe Biden, German chancellor Olaf Scholz, UK prime minister Boris Jonson and European Union leaders, urging them to stop “Putin’s war against Ukraine and the world immediately!”
He also pledged for assistance close the airspace in Ukraine and “forcing Russia into peace.”
“By its unprovoked and unjustified military actions, Russia is grossly violating international law and undermining European and global security and stability. We call on Russia to immediately cease the hostilities, withdraw its military from Ukraine and fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. Such use of force and coercion has no place in the 21st century,” the European Council and European Commission said in a joint statement, adding that NATO and G7 leaders will be meeting on Thursday in response to the situation.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable,” a White House statement said.