Russia invades Ukraine on many fronts in ‘brutal act of war’

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending in troops and tanks from three sides in an attack that could rewrite the world. post-Cold War security order. The Ukrainian government called for help as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee.

President Vladimir Putin ignored global condemnation and cascading new sanctions as he unleashed the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II and made chilling references to his country’s nuclear arsenal. He threatened any country trying to interfere with “consequences you’ve never seen”.

Ukrainian officials said their forces were fighting the Russians on multiple fronts but suffered dozens of deaths and also lost control of the disused Chernobyl nuclear power plant.scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

“Russia has gone down the wrong path, but Ukraine is standing up for itself and will not give up its freedom,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted.

US President Joe Biden has announced new sanctions against Russia, saying Putin “chose this war” and that his country will bear the consequences of his action. Other countries have also announced sanctions, or said they will soon.

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The invasion began early Thursday with a series of missile attacks, many on key government and military instillations, quickly followed by a three-pronged ground assault. Ukrainian and US officials said Russian forces were attacking from the east towards Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city; the southern region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014; and Belarus to the north.

Zelenskyy, who had previously severed diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial law, appealed to world leaders, saying that “if you don’t help us now, if you fail to offer strong help to Ukraine , tomorrow war will knock at your door”. carries.”

Both sides claimed to have destroyed some of the other’s aircraft and military equipment, although little could be confirmed.

Hours into the invasion, Russian forces took control of the now unused Chernobyl power plant and its surrounding exclusion zone after a fierce battle, Zelenskyy adviser Myhailo told The Associated Press. Podolyak.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said it had been notified by Ukraine of the takeover, adding that there had been “no casualties or destruction at the industrial site”.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi called for “maximum restraint” to avoid actions that could endanger Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.

The 1986 disaster happened when a nuclear reactor at the plant 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Kiev exploded, sending a radioactive cloud across Europe. The damaged reactor was then covered with a protective shell to prevent leaks.

The NATO alliance chief said the ‘brutal act of war’ shattered peace in Europe, joining a chorus of world leaders who denounced the attack, which could cause mass casualties, overthrow the democratically elected government of Ukraine. The conflict rocked global financial markets: stocks plunged and oil prices soared on fears that heating bills and food prices could soar.

Condemnations have rained not only from the United States and Europe, but also from South Korea, Australia and elsewhere – and many governments have prepared new sanctions. Even friendly leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban have sought to distance themselves from Putin.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he aims to cut Russia off from British financial markets as he announces sanctions, freezing the assets of all major Russian banks and planning to ban Russian companies and the Kremlin from raising funds in UK markets.

“Now we see him for what he is – a bloodthirsty aggressor who believes in imperial conquest,” Johnson said of Putin.

US sanctions will target Russian banks, oligarchs, state-controlled companies and high-tech sectors, Biden said, but added they were designed not to disrupt global energy markets. Russian oil and natural gas exports are vital sources of energy for Europe.

Zelenskyy urged the United States and the West to go further and cut the Russians off from the SWIFT system, a key financial network that connects thousands of banks around the world. The White House was reluctant to immediately cut Russia off from SWIFT, fearing it would cause huge economic problems in Europe and elsewhere in the West.

A senior US official said the UN Security Council was due to vote on Friday on a resolution condemning Russia’s attack and demanding an immediate withdrawal. The vote will continue even though the legally binding measure will almost certainly be vetoed by Russia, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke under covered with anonymity.

While some nervous Europeans speculated about a possible new world war, the United States and its NATO partners showed no indication that they would send troops to Ukraine, fearing a larger war. They have instead mobilized troops and equipment around its western flank – as Ukraine pleaded for defense aid and help to protect its airspace.

NATO has bolstered its members in Eastern Europe as a precaution, and Biden said the United States was deploying additional forces to Germany to bolster NATO.

European authorities have declared the country’s airspace an active conflict zone.

It was only late Thursday afternoon that Russia confirmed that its ground forces had entered Ukraine, saying they had passed through Crimea, the southern region that Russia annexed in 2014.

After weeks of denying invasion plans, Putin launched the operation on a country the size of Texas that has increasingly leaned toward the democratic West and away from Moscow’s grip. The autocratic leader made it clear earlier this week that he saw no reason for Ukraine to exist, raising fears of a possible wider conflict in the vast space the Soviet Union once ruled. Putin has denied plans to occupy Ukraine, but his ultimate goals remain unclear.

Ukrainians who had long prepared for the prospect of an attack were told to shelter in place and not to panic.

“Until the very last moment, I didn’t believe this would happen. I just pushed those thoughts away,” a terrified Anna Dovnya said in Kiev, watching soldiers and police remove shrapnel from an exploded shell. “We have lost all faith.”

With social media amplifying a torrent of military claims and counter-claims, it was difficult to determine exactly what was happening on the ground.

AP journalists saw or confirmed explosions in the capital, Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov, Kharkiv to the east and beyond. The AP has confirmed a video showing Russian military vehicles crossing into Ukrainian territory to the north from Belarus and from Russian-annexed Crimea to the south.

Russia and Ukraine have made competing statements about the damage they have inflicted. The Russian Defense Ministry said it destroyed dozens of Ukrainian airbases, military installations and drones. It confirmed the loss of one of its Su-25 attack jets, blaming ‘pilot error’, and said an An-26 transport plane crashed due to malfunction technique, killing the entire crew. He did not specify how many were on board.

Russia said it was not targeting cities, but reporters saw destruction in many civilian areas.

Ukraine’s health minister said 57 Ukrainians were killed in the invasion and 169 others injured. The number of civilians was unclear, although earlier in the day 40 soldiers had been killed.

The Polish army has increased its level of readiness and Lithuania and Moldova has pledged to do the same.

Putin justified his actions in a televised address overnight, claiming the attack was necessary to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine – a false claim that the United States predicted it would make as a pretext for the invasion. He accused the United States and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and obtaining security guarantees, saying the military action was a ‘forced measure’ .

Anticipating international condemnation and countermeasures, Putin issued a stern warning to other countries not to interfere.

In a reminder of Russia’s nuclear power, he warned that “no one should doubt that a direct attack on our country will bring destruction and horrific consequences for any potential aggressor.”

In Russia, the authorities reacted quickly to suppress any critical voices. OVD-Info, a group that tracks political arrests, reported that 1,620 people in 52 Russian cities were arrested for protesting the invasion, more than half of them in Moscow.

One of Putin’s promises was to “denazify” Ukraine. World War II is imminent in Russia, after the Soviet Union suffered more deaths than any other country fighting the forces of Adolf Hitler.

The Kremlin has portrayed members of Ukrainian right-wing groups as neo-Nazis, exploiting their admiration for Ukrainian nationalist World War II leaders who sided with the Nazis. Ukraine is now led by a Jewish president who lost loved ones in the Holocaust and has angrily dismissed those claims.

Hours before the invasion, Zelenskyy dismissed Moscow’s claims that Ukraine posed a threat to Russia and issued an impassioned plea for peace.


Isachenkov and Litvinova reported from Moscow. Angela Charlton in Paris; Geir Moulson and Frank Jordans in Berlin; Raf Casert and Lorne Cook in Brussels; Nic Dumitrache in Mariupol, Ukraine, Inna Varennytsia in eastern Ukraine; and Robert Burns, Matthew Lee, Aamer Madhani, Eric Tucker, Nomaan Merchant, Ellen Knickmeyer, Zeke Miller, Chris Megerian and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed.


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