Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered military action in Ukraine in a televised address on Russian TV. Shortly after the address, Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast, officials and media said.
Explosions were heard at the early hours of Thursday in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Reuters reported.
Gunfire rattled near the capital’s main airport with sirens heard over the city according to the report.
The Russian defence ministry said it has destroyed Ukraine’s air bases and air defences with precision weapons. “Military infrastructure at Ukrainian army air bases has been rendered out of action,” it said in a statement carried by news agencies, which added that Kyiv’s air defence systems were “eliminated.”
However, Ukraine claims it shot down five Russian planes, plus a helicopter in the eastern part of the country.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter: “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes.”
“This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”
Reacting to the the invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden promised tough sanctions against Russia and said his prayers were with the people of Ukraine “as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack.”
“I will be meeting with the leaders of the G7, and the United States and our allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia,” Biden said in a statement.
Russia had said that Ukrainian membership of the NATO, a U.S.-led Atlantic military alliance was unacceptable.
“Russia cannot feel safe, develop, and exist with a constant threat emanating from the territory of modern Ukraine,” Putin said. “All responsibility for bloodshed will be on the conscience of the ruling regime in Ukraine.”
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.