Ukraine ‘downs five Russian planes and helicopter’ after Putin invades

The Ukrainian army has said five Russian planes and a helicopter have been shot down after Vladimir Putin authorised an invasion.

The Russian aircraft were brought down over the eastern Luhansk region, it said.

Russia’s defence ministry has denied the claim, saying it had taken Ukrainian bases “out of action” and incapacitated the country’s air defences within hours.

Early this morning Russian troops launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine after Putin authorised an invasion.

He warned other countries any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen”.

>> Follow the latest updates in our Ukraine live blog here

The first explosions were heard across the country shortly after 5am, in cities including Kiev, Kharkiv and Odesa.

At least seven people have died in bombing by Russian forces, according to Ukrainian police.

An attack at a military site in Podilsk outside Odessa killed six people and wounded seven others, officials say. Nineteen people are also missing.

One person died in the southeastern city of Mariupol, police said.

World leaders have condemned the invasion – saying it could leave many dead, topple Ukraine’s democratic government, and threaten post-Cold War relations.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a direct appeal to Russia, urging it to avoid a major war in Europe. He said he had tried to call Putin this morning, but there was no answer. He has now declared martial law.

Ukrainians were urged to stay home and avoid…

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