Russia’s military has begun its campaign against Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack “unjustified, deceitful and cynical.” Politico reports:
Russian missiles struck airports, military positions and cities across Ukraine, including the capital of Kyiv, early Thursday as Vladimir Putin launched the most dangerous phase of his eight-year war.
Witnesses and reporters heard blasts from Kharkiv in the east to Kyiv in the north to Odessa in the south, signaling Russian’s sights are set far beyond the Donbas region.
In a statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his nation suffered “strikes on military and other important defense facilities,” adding that “border units are under attack, the situation in the Donbas has degraded.”
“This is an unjustified, deceitful and cynical invasion,” he said.
Separately, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov added that the “enemy began intense shelling of our units in the east, as well as military control centers and airfields in other regions.”
CNN quoted a Ukrainian government official who said the attack has already led to hundreds of casualties, a figure POLITICO could not immediately verify.
Zelenskyy spoke with Biden early Thursday morning local time. In a statement about the call, Biden said “the United States and our Allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia.”
The strikes on Ukraine followed Putin’s announcement of a “special military operation” against Ukraine, during which he falsely claimed that two Moscow-backed breakaway regions inside Ukraine were under attack by Kyiv’s forces.
Putin declared: “I have declared a special military operation” for the “demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine.”
“This is the red line that I have spoken of many times,” he continued, apparently wearing the same red tie and speaking from the same office from which he gave an address on Monday. “They have crossed it.” Putin vowed not to occupy the country, but demanded that Ukrainian forces lay down their arms or bear responsibility for “bloodshed.”
And in a clear message to the United States and its allies, Putin warned foreign powers not to interfere in his operation: “If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me.”
His pronouncement at 5:45 a.m. Moscow time — during a simultaneous U.N. Security Council meeting in New York, at which Western nations pleaded for Putin to exercise restraint and de-escalate — could spark the largest land war in Europe since World War II, one that could result in the deaths of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian troops and civilians, and spark a refugee crisis.
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