Russia launches invasion of Ukraine after Putin orders ‘specialised military operation’

Russia has launched an invasion of Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin ordered a “specialised military operation” in the Donbas region.

US President Joe Biden denounced the “unprovoked and unjustified” attack on Ukraine and said the “prayers of the world” were with Ukraine – as Sky News heard explosions in Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “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.”

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Sky correspondent: Explosions heard near Kyiv

Key developments at a glance:
• Explosions heard in Kyiv and Kharkiv
• Shelling in western city of Lviv reported by Ukrainian emergency service
• Ukraine says Russia has launched a “full-scale invasion” and “war of aggression”
• Vladimir Putin ordered a “military operation” in Ukraine’s Donbas region
• Joe Biden says US and its allies will respond amid global condemnation

What’s happening on the ground

The Ukrainian interior adviser said there is shelling across the country, with one person killed and one wounded in Brovary, which is in the Kyiv region.

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Explosions have been heard by Sky News near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which seem to be close to the airport.

Sky’s Stuart Ramsay, who is in Kyiv, said he was woken up by loud explosions, is still hearing bangs and lights are out in certain areas.

“There are major attacks happening,” he said.

Air raid sirens were heard going off in the city.

Ukraine’s state emergency service said its ammunition depot in Kyiv is on fire and that it has disabled its website temporarily due to a cyber threat.

Sky’s John Sparks has heard distant thuds that sound like artillery on the outskirts of Kharkiv and said there is little sign of the Ukrainian military.

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Correspondent in Kharkiv: No sign of Ukrainian military

Shelling in the Lviv region has been reported by the Ukraine emergency service.

Blasts have been reported in Mariupol, a southern city, as Ukrainian tanks were seen heading to the city by Reuters news agency.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urging people to stay home as much as possible and introduced martial law.

He said Russia carried out missile strikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure and on border guards.

Ukrainska Pravda news outlet cited an interior ministry official saying that military command centres were hit by the air attacks.

The state border of Ukraine was attacked by troops from Russia and Belarus, Ukraine’s border guards service said.

Border units, border patrols and checkpoints were targeted with artillery, heavy equipment and small arms, with attacks also taking place from Crimea, it said.

The governor of Luhansk is reportedly telling people to leave the region.

Ukraine’s military said its Air Force is repelling a Russian air attack.

It said information about Russian troops landing in the southern port city of Odessa is false.

A Ukrainian minister said the country is facing non-stop cyber attacks.

EU set to implement ‘massive and targeted sanctions’

The president of the European Commission said EU leaders are considering a package of “massive” and “unprecedented” sanctions which will “target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking the access to technologies and markets that are key for Russia”.

Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will freeze Russian assets in the EU and stop Russian banks from accessing European financial markets.

Ukraine’s foreign minister said the world “must act immediately” because the “future of Europe and the world is at stake”.

Dmytro Kuleba for Russia to be “fully isolated by all means” and for “devastating sanctions” to be imposed now.

He said Ukraine needs weapons, equipment, financial help and humanitarian assistance.

The EU said its leaders will meet today to discuss further “restrictive” measures that will impose “massive” and “severe” consequences on Russia.

US President Joe Biden said the world would “hold Russia accountable” and the US and its allies would respond in a united and decisive way.

He added that “President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human

“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring.”

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Putin announces ‘military operation’

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is “appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine” and has spoken to Mr Zelenskyy to “discuss next steps”.

“President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine,” he said.

“The UK and our allies will respond decisively.”

A Polish government spokesperson said now is the time to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank and the country expects this to be decided.

Read more: ‘Full-scale invasion’ – what do we know so far?
How strong is NATO’s position in Europe?

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “this war doesn’t make any sense”, adding that “it will cause a level of suffering not seen in Europe since the Balkan crisis”.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “I strongly condemn the appalling, unprovoked attack President Putin has launched on the people of Ukraine.

“We stand with Ukraine and we will work with our international partners to respond to this terrible act of aggression.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the Russian attack on Ukraine is a “blatant” breach of international law and said Germany will today consult its partners in NATO, the G7 and the EU.

Dame Barbara Woodward, the UK’s UN envoy, said the UN Security Council must do all it can to “stop the war”.

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Russia-Ukraine crisis: Who’s who?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country will take additional action to stop Russia’s “unwarranted” aggression.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace echoed the comments of Ms Truss and Mr Johnson, saying Russia has “further violated Ukrainian sovereignty”.

He said Russia “has chosen conflict”.

“No one has been fooled by the Kremlin’s false flags and fake narratives,” he said.

“This is naked aggression against a democratic country which had dared to express a different aspiration than being a supine neighbour to Russia.

“No one should forget this day. Putin thinks this land grab is about securing his legacy – it will be, but not the one that he wishes.”

Putin’s justification

In a television address announcing the “military operation”, Mr Putin said clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces were inevitable and it was just a question of time.

He said the aim was to protect people, but circumstances demanded decisive action from Russia.

He claimed the actions were in self-defence and that further NATO expansion and its use of Ukraine’s territory was unacceptable.

Mr Putin said the response would be instant if anyone tries to take on Russia and in comments directed towards the Ukrainian military he said your fathers and grandfathers did not fight so you could help “neo-Nazis”.