Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said Thursday that Russia has “has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
A series of explosions were reported across Ukraine, including near the capital Kyiv. Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine’s interior ministry, said there were “missile strikes on Kyiv.”
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Russian military is attacking Ukrainian military facilities and is not targeting cities.
In another statement, the Russian Defense Ministry said it crippled Ukraine’s air defenses with “precision” attacks. It also claimed that Ukrainian border guards are not resisting the advancing Russian troops.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special operation” in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. He said the operation was meant to defend people living in the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR), which Russia recognized on Monday. After ordering the operation, Putin said that he has “no plans to occupy the Ukrainian territories.”
President Biden released a statement condemning Putin’s operation and said he would announce on Thursday “further consequences” that the US and its allies will “impose on Russia.”
Putin’s order was preceded by the separatists in the DPR and LPR asking Russia for military assistance to help in “repelling the aggression” of the Ukrainian military. Putin recognized the breakaway republics amid a spike of ceasefire violations along the line of control in the Donbas.
The DPR and LPR first declared independence after the US-backed coup in Kyiv in 2014. Under the Minsk agreements, which were signed in 2014 and 2015, Ukraine agreed to cede some autonomy to the breakaway republics and hold elections. In exchange, the Donbas would be demilitarized and the region would remain part of Ukraine. But the accords were never fully implemented. After recognizing the republics, Putin said the Minsk agreements no longer exist.
Putin’s operation in Ukraine came after months of security talks between the US and Russia. Russia submitted a list of security proposals to the US, and chief among them was a demand to promise that Ukraine would never join NATO, which was ignored.