Boris Johnson announces massive economic sanctions on Russia
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Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would be recognising two regions in eastern Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk – as independent states. The development provided the pretext Moscow was after to order troops into its ex-Soviet neighbour, with a comprehensive invasion being launched just days later.
What do we know so far?
On Thursday morning, Mr Putin appeared in a TV address where he said Russia did not plan to occupy Ukraine and demanded that its military lay down their arms.
Shortly after the broadcast, reports started to emerge of attacks by Russia on Ukrainian military targets.
First hit by Moscow were Ukraine’s military infrastructure and border guard units.
The action was swiftly followed up by Russian military vehicles which crossed the border at various locations.
Troops advanced from Kharkiv in the north, Luhansk in the east, Russian-annexed Crimea in the south, and from Belarus too.
Although Belarus’s military are not involved in the invasion, the country’s leader Alexander Lukashenko said it could be if needed.
Later on Thursday, Russian tanks were seen on the outskirts of Kharkiv, a city in northeast Ukraine.
Members of Russia’s military also reportedly landed by sea at Ukraine’s major port cities of Odesa on the Black Sea and Mariupol on the internal Sea of Azov.
The reports so far suggested that most of the fighting has taken place in the east of Ukraine, near to the two regions that Russia is proclaiming as independent states.
Residents of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, said windows in apartment blocks were shaking from constant blasts as the Ukrainian military and Russian forces exchanged shellfire.
Ukraine’s army said Kyiv’s Boryspil international airport was among a number of airfields that had been bombed, along with military headquarters and warehouses in the key cities of Kyiv, Dnipro, Kharkiv and Mariupol.
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On Thursday evening, fierce fighting was reported around the site of the former nuclear power plant in Chernobyl.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak has said it is impossible to say if the site was safe.
Russia has claimed to have destroyed more than 70 military targets and that it has encountered little resistance from Ukrainian defences.
Although it was initially feared that Russia would just support the independence claims of Donetsk and Luhansk, it’s now becoming increasingly apparent that a full occupation of Ukraine is on the cards – including the capital Kiev.
Initial reports have claimed casualties include Ukrainian civilians and soldiers, as well as Russian troops.
According to a Ukrainian presidential adviser, more than 40 soldiers had died, while dozens more had been wounded.
Ukraine said it had killed 50 Russian troops and shot down six Russian aircraft, but this has not been verified.
Martial law has been declared by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky across the country, while all diplomatic ties have been severed with Russia.
Residents from Kiev have been leaving en mass throughout Thursday, creating significant traffic queues out of the city.
Several neighbouring countries have started preparations to take in a large number of refugees.
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