Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine early on Thursday, starting a war with the European nation. Vladimir Putin announced the military operation into Ukraine at 5:55 am Moscow time – and minutes later the first shells and missiles were launched into Ukraine.
In the capital of Kyiv, a war siren has gone off, and pictures show streams of cars clogging up an expressway as people flee the city.
As Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, lines of cars moved out of the capital, Kyiv, many heading west and hoping to find safety in parts of the country closer to Poland and NATO troops.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 24, 2022
Social media testimonies speak to a growing sense of panic, with some saying they are being rushed into bomb shelters and into basements. Television footage has showed people praying in the streets, huddled in groups.
A 19-year-old Greek woman living in Kyiv, Ukraine has described scenes of chaos. The woman who only gave her first name Nikki, has appealed for help through Greek Reporter saying that “is really scared.”
“I want to live, I want peace,” she says. “They tell us not to panic and be calm but it’s very difficult. We do not know what will happen from one minute to the next,” Nikki says.
The Ukrainian armed forces has posted a statement saying that Russian military began “intensive shelling” of its units in the east of the country.
Ukraine army base reportedly hit in Vinnitsiya region pic.twitter.com/QAx3vJoys8
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) February 24, 2022
Russia also launched missile strikes on Boryspil airport near Kyiv and several other airports, the statement said. It said the Ukrainian air force is fighting off an air attack by Russia.
The city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, the epicenter of the Greek presence in the country, is also under heavy bombardment from the Russian forces on Thursday.
🚨 –GRAPHIC VIDEO– 🚨
Aftermath of Russian bombardment on Uman, Ukraine, Cherkasy Oblast. 1 child killed. pic.twitter.com/eY3ANxwa5o
— Doge (@IntelDoge) February 24, 2022
Russia action an act of war
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs described Russia’s military action Thursday as an “act of war” in a statement posted to Facebook.
“This is an act of war, an attack on sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, a gross violation of the UN Statute and the fundamental norms and principles of international law,” spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said in the statement.
Nikolenko said Russian troops had carried out strikes on “peaceful” Ukrainian cities, in an offensive that aimed to “destroy the state of Ukraine, seize Ukrainian territory by force, and establish occupation control.”
“Ukraine is claiming its right to self-defense in accordance with international law,” the statement said, adding the Ukrainian military was ready to “repel the aggressor and defend the Ukrainian land with all their might.”
Nikolenko urged the international community to “act immediately,” requesting new sanctions be applied to Russia and military equipment to support Ukraine’s defense capabilities.
“Lives and security not only of the Ukrainian citizens but also on the security of the citizens of Europe and the future of the world order depend on our united response,” the statement added.
World leaders react
Global leaders, including US President Joe Biden, have promised that “the world will hold Russia accountable” for what they describe as an “unprovoked and unjustified attack” on Ukraine.
“President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter. He promised to work with allies to “decisively” respond.
“France strongly condemns Russia’s decision to wage war on Ukraine,” French President Emmanuel Macron said. He demanded that Moscow “end its military operations immediately.”