What are the issues between Ukraine and Russia? The crisis explained

Russia has finally launched its long-feared “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine after Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in a televised address to his citizens in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Explosions were reported soon afterwards on the outskirts of the cities of Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Mariupol, as well as the capital Kiev, prompting many Ukrainians to form queues at supermarkets, ATMs and petrol stations in preparation for weathering the siege or attempting to flee.

Ukraine’s airports have been shut down temporarily and secured against potential Russian aircraft landings while Russia has closed its own airspace around the border to civilian access for the next four months.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said the government was introducing martial law on all territories of the state and urged citizens to stay at home as much as possible.

US president Joe Biden, UK prime minister Boris Johnson and UN secretary general Antonio Guterreshave joined other global powers in condemning Moscow’s “unprovoked and unjustified” attack and promised to hold it “accountable”, with Mr Johnson expected to announce further “unprecedented” sanctions to Parliament later on Thursday.

Tensions in Eastern Europe escalated on Monday when Mr Putin moved to officially recognise the pro-Russian breakaway regions of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) as independent states, enabling him to move military…

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