Russian missiles rain down on airports, military bases, and Kyiv. (IANS)
Warns others that any attempt to interfere would lead to ‘consequences you have never seen’ bbbbbbbbbb n Destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities: Russia
Ukraine says, about 40 killed so far in attack
RUSSIAN troops launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, as President Vladimir Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen.” Ukrainian border guards released footage of what they said were Russian military vehicles moving in, and big explosions were heard in the capital Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east and Odesa in the west. As the Russian military claimed to have wiped out Ukraine’s entire air defences in a matter of hours, Ukrainians fled some cities and European authorities declared Ukrainian air space an active conflict zone. Russia’s Defence Ministry says, the Russian military has destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities, including 11 air bases. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered that Ukrainian servicemen be treated “with respect” and those who lay down their weapons offered safe corridors. The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed the loss of a Su-25 attack jet due to “pilor error.” Meanwhile, an advisor to Ukraine’s President says about 40 people have been killed so far in the Russian attack on the country. Oleksii Arestovich, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday that several dozen people have been wounded.
He didn’t specify whether the casualties included civilians. Ukraine lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear site, where Ukranian forces had waged a fierce battle with Russian troops.. The plant was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident when a nuclear reactor exploded in April 1986, spewing radioactive waste across Europe. The plant lies 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital of Kyiv. The exploded reactor has been covered by a protective shelter to prevent radiation leak and the entire plant has been decommissioned. Zelenskyy said the Ukrainian authorities will hand weapons to all those willing to defend the country. “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. World leaders decried the start of a long-anticipated invasion with far-reaching consequences, as global financial markets plunged and oil prices soared. Russia’s actions could cause massive casualties, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected Government and upend geopolitics and Europe’s post-Cold War security balance. Governments from the US to Asia and Europe readied new sanctions after weeks of failed efforts for a diplomatic solution — but global powers have said they will not intervene militarily to defend Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cut diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial law, saying Russia has targeted Ukraine’s military infrastructure.
Ukrainians who had long braced for the prospect of an assault were urged to stay home and not to panic even as Ukrainian authorities reported artillery barrages and airstrikes on targets around the country. After weeks of denying plans to invade, Putin justified his actions in an overnight televised address, asserting that the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine — a false claim the US had predicted he would make as a pretext for an invasion. He accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and for security guarantees. He also claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarise” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice. The attacks came first from the air, but later Ukrainian border guards released security camera footage on Thursday showing a line of Russian military vehicles crossing into Ukraine’s government-held territory from Russian-annexed Crimea. Oleksii Arestovich, an advisor to Zelenskyy, said that Russian troops have moved up to 5 kilometers (3 miles) into the Ukrainian territory in the Kharkiv and Chernihiv regions, and, possibly in other areas. President Joe Biden pledged new sanctions to punish Russia for the aggression that the international community had expected for weeks but could not prevent through diplomacy. Biden in a written statement condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack,” and he promised that the US and its allies would “hold Russia accountable.”
The President said he planned to speak to Americans on Thursday after a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders. More sanctions against Russia were expected to be announced Thursday. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the assault as a “full-scale invasion” and said Ukraine will “defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.” In the capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko advised residents to stay home unless they are involved in critical work and urged them to prepare go-bags with necessities and documents if they need to evacuate. The Ukrainian air defence system and air force date back to the Soviet era and are dwarfed by Russia’s massive air power and its inventory of precision weapons. The Russian Defence Ministry said it was not targeting cities, but using precision weapons and claimed that “there is no threat to civilian population.” Zelenskyy urged global leaders to provide defense assistance to Ukraine and help protect its airspace from the “aggressor.”
NATO agrees to beef up eastern flank after Ukraine attacked
NATO agreed on Thursday to beef up its land, sea and air forces on its eastern flank near Ukraine and Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered a military offensive in Ukraine. “We are deploying additional defensive land and air forces to the eastern part of the alliance, as well as additional maritime assets,” NATO ambassadors said in a statement after emergency talks. “We have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies,” their statement said. While some of NATO’s 30 member countries are supplying arms, ammunition and other equipment to Ukraine, NATO as an organisation isn’t. It won’t launch any military action in support of Ukraine, which is a close partner but has no prospect of joining. Countries closest to the conflict - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland - are among those to have triggered rare consultations under Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, which can be launched when “the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the (NATO) parties is threatened”.