VLADIMIR ISACHANKOV, DASHA LITVINOVA, JURAS KARMANOV and JIM HEINZ
Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russian troops launched a large-scale attack on Ukraine on Thursday when President Vladimir Putin renounced international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to intervene would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”
The Ukrainian leadership has said that at least 40 people have been killed so far in a “full-scale war” targeting the country from the east, north and south.
Ukrainian border guards have released footage of what they believe was Russian military equipment, and large explosions were heard in the capital, Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east and Odessa in the west. As the Russian military claimed to have destroyed all of Ukraine’s air defenses in a matter of hours, Ukrainians fled some cities, and European authorities declared Ukrainian airspace a zone of active conflict.
World leaders have condemned the start of the long-awaited invasion with far-reaching consequences as global financial markets collapsed and oil prices soared. Russia’s actions could lead to mass casualties, overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government and worsen geopolitics and the balance of security in post-Cold War Europe.
Governments from the United States to Asia and Europe have prepared new sanctions after weeks of failed efforts to reach a diplomatic solution, but world powers have said they will not intervene in military action to defend Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has severed diplomatic relations with Moscow and declared martial law, saying Russia has targeted Ukraine’s military infrastructure. Ukrainians, who have long been preparing for the prospect of an assault, were urged to stay home and not panic, even as Ukrainian authorities reported artillery shelling and air strikes on facilities across the country.
Adviser to the President of Ukraine Alexei Orastovich said that at the moment as a result of the Russian attack killed about 40 people and several dozen wounded. He did not specify whether civilians were among the dead.
“The Ukrainian military is fighting fiercely, repelling attacks in the Donbass and other regions in the east, north and south,” Zelensky said at a briefing. He said that the Ukrainian authorities will hand over weapons to anyone willing to defend the country.
After weeks of denying the invasion plans, Putin justified his actions in a nightly telecast, arguing that the attack was necessary to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine – a false statement the United States predicted as grounds for the invasion. He accused the United States and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine’s accession to NATO and security guarantees. He also said that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine, but will go to its “demilitarization” and bring to justice those who committed crimes.
The attacks were initially carried out from the air, but later Ukrainian border guards released security camera footage Thursday showing a number of Russian military vehicles moving into Ukrainian government-controlled territory from Russia’s annexed Crimea.
Zelensky’s adviser Alexei Orastovich said that Russian troops had advanced into Ukraine for 5 kilometers in Kharkiv and Chernihiv regions and possibly in other areas.
President Joe Biden has promised to impose new sanctions to punish Russia for aggression that the international community has been waiting for for weeks but has failed to prevent through diplomacy.
Putin justified all this in a televised address, claiming that the attack was necessary to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine – a false statement that the United States predicted as a reason for the invasion. He accused the United States and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine’s accession to NATO and security guarantees. He also said that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine, but will go to its “demilitarization” and bring to justice those who committed crimes.
In a written statement, Biden condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack” and promised that the United States and its allies would “bring Russia to justice.” The president said he plans to hold talks with Americans Thursday after a meeting of G7 leaders. New sanctions against Russia are expected to be announced on Thursday.
In the capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko advised residents to stay at home if they are not involved in critical work, and urged to prepare bags with the necessary things and documents if they need to be evacuated. An Associated Press photographer in Mariupol said he heard explosions and saw dozens of people with suitcases heading to their cars to leave the city.
“War and terror await us. What could be worse? ” This was reported in Kiev, 64-year-old Lyudmila Gireeva. She planned to head to the western city of Lviv and then try to move to Poland to join her daughter. Putin “will be cursed by history, and Ukrainians will curse him.”
Russia’s allegations of undermining Ukrainian air defenses and Ukraine’s allegations that several Russian planes were shot down could not be verified immediately. The Ukrainian air defense system and the air force date back to Soviet times and are unlike Russia’s massive aviation and its high-precision weapons inventory.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was not targeting cities but using high-precision weapons, and said “there is no threat to the civilian population.”
Zelensky called on world leaders to provide defense assistance to Ukraine and help protect its airspace from the “aggressor”. The European Union’s Aviation Security Agency told operators of the high danger to civilian aircraft over Ukraine, reminding operators that “this is now a zone of active conflict.”
Adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Anton Gerashchenko said on Facebook that the Russian military had launched missile strikes on Ukrainian military command facilities, air bases and military depots in Kiev, Kharkiv and the Dnieper.
After the first explosions in Kiev on the streets could be heard people shouting. Then came a sense of normalcy: cars were driving and people were walking the streets when the journey before dawn seemed to start relatively quietly.
The effects of the conflict and sanctions against Russia have begun to take place around the world.
World stock markets have fallen and oil prices have risen by almost $ 6 a barrel. Market benchmarks fell in Europe and Asia, and US futures fell sharply. Brent crude jumped to $ 100 a barrel on Thursday due to concerns about a possible disruption in supplies from Russia. The ruble fell
Anticipating international condemnation and countermeasures, Putin warned others not to interfere, saying: “Anyone who tries to hinder us, let alone threaten our country and its people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead. to consequences you have never seen in history. ”
Recalling Russia’s nuclear power, Putin warned that “no one should doubt that a direct attack on our country will lead to destruction and terrible consequences for any potential aggressor.”
Although the United States announced on Tuesday the redeployment of forces around the Baltics, Biden said he would not send troops to fight Russia.
Putin’s statement came hours after Ukraine’s president rejected Moscow’s claims that his country posed a threat to Russia, and made a last-minute call for peace.
“The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,” Zelensky said in an emotional night address, speaking in Russian in a direct address to Russian citizens. “But if we are attacked, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. If you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs. ”
Zelensky said he had asked to arrange a call with Putin late Wednesday, but the Kremlin did not respond.
Clearly referring to Putin’s move to authorize the deployment of Russian troops to “maintain peace” in eastern Ukraine, Zelensky warned that “this move could mark the beginning of a major war on the European continent.”
“Any provocation, any spark can cause a fire that will destroy everything,” he said.
He denied the statements of Russian propaganda, saying that “you are told that this fire will bring freedom to the people of Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people are free.”
At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council convened by Ukraine over the imminent threat of Russian invasion, members unaware of Putin’s statement urged him to stop the attack. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the meeting just before the announcement, telling Putin: “Give the world a chance.”
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have vowed to hold the Kremlin accountable.
“In these dark hours, we think of Ukraine and innocent women, men and children who are facing this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” they wrote on Twitter.
Even before Putin’s statement, dozens of countries imposed sanctions on Russia, which further pushed Russian oligarchs and banks out of international markets.
Russia’s foreign ministry has waived the sanctions, saying “Russia has proven that with all the costs of sanctions, it can minimize the damage.”
The threat of war has already destroyed Ukraine’s economy and caused mass casualties, energy shortages across Europe and global economic chaos.
Isachenkov and Litvinov reported from Moscow. Angela Charlton in Paris; Frank Jordans in Berlin; Lorne Cook in Brussels, Frank Bayak in Boston, Robert Burns, Matthew Lee, Amer Madhani, Eric Tucker, Ellen Nickmeyer, Zick Miller, Chris Megerian and Darlene Superville in Washington.
Follow the coverage of the Ukrainian crisis of the AP at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine