About 40 people have been killed so far in the first hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an adviser to president Volodymyr Zelensky said at midday on Thursday.
The adviser, Oleksii Arestovich, said there were also several dozen people wounded.
He didn’t specify whether the casualties included civilians, but it comes as the emergency services said a boy was killed in eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region after shelling struck an apartment building.
The Ukrainian government said the casualties come amid a “full-scale invasion” by Russian forces bombarding its airports and targeting major cities, entering the country from the east, north and south.
Mr Zelensky said the Ukrainian authorities will hand weapons to all those willing to defend the country, and earlier declared martial law.
“The future of the Ukrainian people depends on every Ukrainian,” he said, urging all those who can defend the country to come to the Interior Ministry’s assembly facilities.
The update on casualties came at around midday local time. Russian president Vladimir Putin had declared the start of the invasion at 6am Moscow time in a televised address, calling it a “special military operation” to defend breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine.
Shortly afterwards explosions were heard outside the capital Kiev, as well as in Kharkiv in the east and Odessa in the south.
Ukraine’s border guards have released video footage of what they say are columns of Russian military vehicles moving…