10 AM UPDATE: Russia launches massive attacks on targets in Ukraine – these are the latest updates

Photo: AP Photo / Emilio Morenatti

Russia has attacked a number of military targets in Ukraine and sent ground forces across the border, provoking strong condemnation from the outside world.

On Wednesday night, the leaders of the two Ukrainian breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine asked Russia for help in “meeting the aggression” from Ukrainian government forces.

A few hours later, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in a televised speech that Russian forces would come to their aid. Shortly afterward, powerful explosions were heard in several Ukrainian cities.

“This is a full-scale invasion. The world can and must stop Putin,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

Urgent meeting at the UN

The UN Security Council was summoned to an emergency meeting, and Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassili Nebenzia confirmed that a Russian military operation had been launched against Ukraine.

“I just want to say that we are not aggressive against the Ukrainian people, but against the junta in power in Kyiv,” he said.

Ukraine’s UN envoy Sergij Kyslytsya retaliated furiously.

“There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell,” he said, addressing Nebenzia.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres pleaded with Putin to call off the attack.

“In the name of humanity, recall the soldiers to Russia,” he said after the emergency meeting of the Security Council.

Attack on air bases

Shortly afterward, the Russian news agency Interfax reported that Russian forces had landed in the port cities of Odesa on the Black Sea and Mariupol on the Azov Sea in eastern Ukraine. But this was first rejected as fake news by the Ukrainian military leadership.

However, powerful explosions were reported from these two cities and from other cities in Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv.

The Russian military leadership claimed that the attacks were aimed at military targets and that the Ukrainian air force and the country’s air defense facilities were neutralized.

“Russia’s armed forces do not carry out rocket or artillery attacks on cities in Ukraine. Precision weapons are used to destroy military infrastructure, military airports, aircraft, air defense facilities, and the Ukrainian defense,” a statement noted.

Conflicting reports

Ukraine’s military leadership, for its part, claims to have shot down five Russian planes and a combat helicopter in eastern Ukraine, near areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists. That is “not in line with reality,” Moscow noted.

Ukrainian border guards also reported in the morning that they had responded to Russian artillery attacks from Belarus and the Crimean peninsula, but that notion was also rejected by the Russian defense leadership. According to Russia, the border guards did not resist when the Russian ground forces moved in.

Pictures from the Senkivka border crossing, located about 230 kilometers northeast of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, showed a large number of Russian tanks rolling across the border from Belarus, where they have participated in a major military exercise this month.

Sirens and explosions

While daily life in several Ukrainian cities in the morning seemed to go on as usual, the mayor of the country’s second-largest city Kharkiv asked the approximately 1.5 million inhabitants to stay at home.

“Please do not leave your homes today. As a result of the complicated situation, schools, kindergartens, and other institutions will remain closed today, until the situation is further clarified,” Igor Terekhov wrote on Facebook.

In Kharkiv and in other cities, civil defense sirens sounded off, and explosions were reported. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, seven government soldiers were killed in the Russian attacks. There have been no reports of civilian casualties.

In Kyiv, many residents sought refuge at metro stations in the morning for fear of airstrikes. There were also long traffic jams on the way out of the city.

Ukrainian authorities have closed the airspace to all civilian traffic, and the airport in Kyiv has been evacuated.

Call for help

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj is asking the international community to take action to force Russia to retreat. Still, there have been only verbal protests from the international community so far.

In the morning, Zelenskyj spoke with a number of Western leaders, including President Joe Biden, who promised “continued support to Ukraine” without going into detail about the support.

“We are building an anti-Putin coalition. The world must force Russia to (accept) peace,” Zelensky tweeted after the conversation with the American president.

NATO’s decision-making authority, the North Atlantic Council, has been summoned to an emergency meeting, and the defense alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has announced a press conference at noon.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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