Putin declares war as Russia invades Ukraine | First Thing

Good morning.

After weeks of threats and failed attempts at diplomacy, Vladimir Putin launched a broad Russian military offensive targeting Ukraine at around 5am Ukrainian time today. World leaders warn this invasion could spark the largest war in Europe since 1945.

Within minutes of Putin’s short televised address, in which he announced a “special military operation” to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine, the country was under attack from cruise and ballistic missiles, with explosions heard near major Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv.

Though Putin said that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine, he added a chilling warning to other nations in his address: “To anyone who would consider interfering from the outside: 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,” he said.

A wounded woman is seen after an airstrike damaged an apartment complex in city of Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine.
A wounded woman is seen after an airstrike damaged an apartment complex in city of Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

What we know so far

The initial wave of strikes appeared to involve cruise missiles, artillery and airstrikes targeting Ukraine’s military infrastructure, airbases and border positions.

  • The first casualties have been reported. At least eight people have been killed and nine were wounded by the Russian shelling. It’s unclear if any were civilians.

  • Russian backed separatist rebels were reported to be attacking Ukrainian positions around the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk about two hours into the attack.

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, announced martial law had been declared across the country in the immediate aftermath of the first wave of strikes.

Zelenskiy introduces martial law in Ukraine as sirens blare in Kyiv – video
Zelenskiy introduces martial law in Ukraine as sirens blare in Kyiv – video

Western leaders have responded with fury to Russia’s actions, with Joe Biden accusing Putin of choosing a “premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic…

Read full story at the guardian.com

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