Russian forces invade Ukraine
Published: 24 FEB 2022 | Updated: 02 MAR 2022
Explosions and sirens in Kyiv as Russia invades Ukraine
- Russia launched an unprecedented invasion of its neighbor Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a chilling warning to the West, saying any country which tried to “interfere” would face immediate consequences.
- U.S., Europe and Ukrainian officials have condemned the attack with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, calling for “heavy sanctions” on Moscow.
UKRAINE CONFLICT | On 24 February, Russia launched a unprecedented invasion of its neighbor Ukraine with military assaults on several key Ukrainian cities including its capital, Kyiv, marking a major escalation of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War. The campaign had been preceded by a prolonged Russian military buildup (since early 2021), as well as numerous Russian demands for security measures and legal prohibitions against Ukraine joining NATO.
The attack on Ukraine is taking place both on the ground and by air, with reports that Russian forces have breached the Kyiv region. Explosions have also been heard in the cities of Odessa, Kharkiv and Mariupol, and there are reports of fighting and fatalities in other parts of the country.
Officials said the offensive had already killed dozens of soldiers and several civilians as of Thursday afternoon.
Stocks fell sharply on the news of the invasion with investors fleeing for safe-haven assets, while global energy prices jumped to multi-year highs.
Russia began attacking various positions across the country early Thursday local time after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would carry out a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Its goal, Putin said, was what he called “the demilitarization” of Ukraine. He said Russia’s plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories, saying “we are not going to impose anything on anyone by force.”
There’s little evidence of military aggression from Ukraine, and Russia’s claims to the contrary are seen by many as a pretext for justifying an invasion.
On Twitter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for “an immediate end to Putin’s war against the world” and said “we are building an anti-Putin coalition” without elaborating further. He also called for immediate sanctions on Russia as well as “defense and financial support” saying “the world must force Russia into peace.”
The Kremlin issued more statements later Thursday, saying Putin would decide how long the military operation would last “based on its progress and aims.” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also told reporters Ukraine needs to “ideally” be “liberated” but that “nobody is talking about the occupation of Ukraine,” saying that word was “unacceptable,” according to Reuters.
Infographic by AFP
Speaking Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that “in the coming days and weeks, there will come even more [soldiers], so we will further increase and we are increasing our presence in the eastern part of the alliance,” although he also repeated that, as it stands, NATO had no plans to send its troops into Ukraine.
The comments came as Ukraine’s military said Russia had attacked it with more than 30 strikes on civilian and military infrastructure, including the use of Kalibr cruise missiles.
Close followers of Russian politics believe Putin wants to destabilize Ukraine’s pro-Western government and to instead install a pro-Russia regime there.