Russia attacks Ukraine 

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine early Thursday.
  • Ukraine’s Interior Ministry has said Russia’s “invasion has begun,” with reports of troops crossing the border, and explosions in multiple cities including the capital Kyiv.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky introduced martial law across the country on Thursday, urging citizens to remain calm. Earlier, he said he had tried to call Putin on Wednesday but was unsuccessful.

US Embassy in Kyiv tells Americans to “shelter in place”

The United States Embassy in Kyiv has issued a warning for Americans in Ukraine to “shelter in place” due to Russian attacks in a number of major Ukrainian cities.

“There are reports of Russian attacks on targets in a number of major Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Mariupol,” the embassy said on Twitter. 

“US citizens in Ukraine are advised to shelter in place and take the following actions:

  • If you hear a loud explosion or if sirens are activated, immediately seek cover.
  • If in a home or a building, go to the lowest level of the structure with the fewest exterior walls, windows, and openings; close any doors and sit near an interior wall, away from any windows or openings.
  • If you are outdoors, immediately seek cover in a hardened structure; if that is not possible, lie down and cover your head with your hands.”

Russian military claims it met no resistance from Ukrainian border guards

The Russian military claimed in a statement Thursday that Ukraine’s border service “did not provide any resistance” to Russian units invading Ukrainian territory.

The statement also claimed the Russian military had “suppressed” Ukraine’s air defenses. 

CNN was not able to immediately verify either of those claims. 

Aircraft denial: In the same statement, the Russian military denied claims by Ukrainian forces that they had downed several Russian aircraft, saying reports “do not correspond with reality.”

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces earlier said that five Russian aircraft and a helicopter were shot down early Thursday, as Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė urged “strong and united action” in a tweeton Thursday.For anyone who doubted, the time to start seeing things for what they are is long past,” she wrote.

Ukraine Defense Ministry: “Russian troops are suffering losses”

From CNN’s Mick Krever in Kharkiv and Tim Lister in Kyiv.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said Thursday its forces are countering the Russian offensive “with dignity” and inflicting losses on Moscow’s troops.

“National Defence Forces, using the right for self-defence according to the article 51 of the United Nations Charter are countering with dignity the enemy’s attempts to break through the state border,” the Ministry said in a statement shared on Whatsapp. “Situation is controlled. The Russian troops are suffering losses.”

The Ministry also said there had been “no losses among the defenders of Ukraine.” 

In an earlier statement, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said it had neutralized Ukrainian air defenses. 

CNN has been unable to independently verify either of these claims.

The foreign ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia released a joint statement condemning “in (the) strongest possible way, the open large scale Russian (aggression) against the independent, peaceful and democratic Ukraine.”

The statement said Russia’s actions were a “blatant violation of the international law” and a “crime against Ukrainian people that we condemn.” It called on the international community to “impose strongest possible sanctions on Russia,” and to provide Ukraine with military, economic, political and humanitarian aid. 

Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau also condemned Russia’s actions in a tweet on Thursday, urging Moscow to “stop all military action immediately and return to diplomacy.” The lives of millions of people are at stake, he added.

Chinese embassy in Ukraine warns nationals to stay inside, and put Chinese flags on their cars for safety

The Chinese embassy in Ukraine released a warning for its citizens in the country early Thursday, urging them to place the Chinese flag on their vehicles for safety.

“The situation in Ukraine has deteriorated dramatically. There have been bombings in multiple cities, and the military operations are under way,” said the statement from the embassy. It urged citizens to stay home and away from windows or glass, warning “serious riots” may happen on the streets.

Courtesy: CNN

Ukraine’s air defense destroyed – Russia

A lightning offensive has crippled the Ukrainian military, Moscow claims

Russia has taken out Ukraine’s air defenses and airforce with a series of precision attacks, the country’s Defense Ministry has said in a statement, after airports and runways across the country were rocked by explosions.

Officials also claimed on Thursday morning that Ukrainian border guards are not resisting advancing Russian troops, who have moved in after President Vladimir Putin signed an order to begin a “special operation” in the Donbass. At the same time, officials denied claims made by Kiev’s defense chiefs that Russia had lost at least one military plane over the country during the offensive.

In an earlier statement, Moscow reported that it was carrying out strikes at elements of Ukraine’s military infrastructure.

Russia launched the offensive against Ukraine on Thursday morning on the orders of President Vladimir Putin, who said the goal of the operation was to demilitarize and “de-Nazify”Ukraine.

The Russian leader claimed military action was necessary to stop Ukrainian attacks on the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, which Moscow recognized as sovereign states on Monday. He claimed Russia could come under attack by Ukrainian radicals, unless their influence in the country is diminished, and accused Western nations of arming Kiev against Russia.

Moscow’s Ministry of Defense has released a statement denying reports that a Russian warplane was downed in Ukraine, insisting that it has taken out all the eastern European nation’s air defenses, after the Kremlin ordered a “special military operation” across the border.

In an official announcement on Thursday, the Ministry wrote, “The Ukrainian Border Service is providing no resistance to Russian divisions. The Ukrainian Armed Forces’ anti-air capabilities have been suppressed. The military infrastructure of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ air bases is out of commission.” The statements also claims that reports in foreign media of a Russian plane brought down in Ukrainian territory are not true.

Earlier on Thursday, Kiev claimed that five Russian planes and one helicopter had been shot down in the Lugansk region, near to separatist-held territory which Russian President Vladimir Putin officially recognized as independent on Monday. 


Japan’s Prime Minister says Russia’s invasion “shakes foundations of international order”

From CNN’s Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo 

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday condemned Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine, saying it “shakes the foundations of the international order.”“We strongly criticize Russia’s actions and will cooperate with the United States and the international community to respond swiftly,” Kishida told reporters at a news conference.

Kishida added that Tokyo would continue to work with relevant ministries to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in Ukraine.

When asked about further sanctions against Moscow, Kishida told reporters he would consider future measures after communicating with other G7 nations and the international community.

Some context: Kishida on Wednesday said Japan will impose sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

Kishida said Japan will suspend the issuance of visas and freeze the assets of people involved in recognizing the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, the two separatist-held pro-Moscow regions in eastern Ukraine. He did not specify names or how the sanctions would be carried out.

He also said Japan will ban imports and exports to and from Donetsk and Luhansk, and prohibit the issuance and circulation of Russian bonds in Japan.