Russian invasion of Ukraine throws world into new era of upheaval
Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv on Feb.24, 2022. Photo: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine — including attacking the capital, Kyiv — in an overnight barrage that was swift, broad and ruthless. The attack was exactly in line with President Biden's dire forecasts.
Why it matters: The world woke to a new era of global upheaval. Two sovereign nations are in a conventional war in Europe for the first time since World War II, with huge ramifications for the power dynamics of Russia and the superpowers, the U.S. and China.
What's happening: Russian forces were confirmed on Thursday to have crossed the Ukrainian border by land, air and sea from Russia, Belarus and Crimea.
- Bombardments rained down on cities across Ukraine and a ground offensive was launched in the east.
- The Russian military said it was targeting military installations and air bases, but dozens of civilian casualties have been reported and images on social media show thousands of Ukrainians attempting to flee.
- Ukraine's emergency services reported that attacks were launched against 10 regions, including Kyiv, according to the New York Times. U.S. officials believe Russia is targeting airports in an attempt to secure the skies for a large-scale ground invasion.
- A CNN reporter live on air captured Russian airborne forces taking control of Antonov airport, located near Kyiv.
- Ukraine's government has imposed martial law and ordered citizens to take shelter.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces are attempting to seize control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
- Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko imposed an overnight curfew in Ukraine's capital. Residents must stay home from 10pm to 7am local time.
- As of earlier this morning, 40 Ukrainian servicemen and dozens of civilians have died in the attacks, according to Ukraine Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova.
- Zelensky said late Thursday at least 137 Ukrainians, civilian and military, have been killed in the invasion. He said another 316 people have been injured.
- President Biden on Thursday condemned Russia for attacking Ukraine and announced export controls and new sanctions to "limit Russia's ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen to be part of the global economy."
The big picture: Ukraine came under a massive aerial assault in the early hours of Thursday, after Putin declared a "special military operation" initially aimed at the eastern Donbas region, where he recently recognized separatist-backed "republics" fighting the Ukrainian government
- It quickly became clear that the "operation" was a full-scale attack on the entire country, as explosions were reported across Ukrainian cities moments after Putin finished speaking.
- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Thursday the alliance would deploy more defensive forces to its eastern flank, declaring: "Peace on our continent has been shattered. We now have war in Europe on a scale and of a type we thought belonged to history."
Between the lines: It turns out Putin's buildup was no feint. And the warnings from the White House were spot on.
- Biden said after the invasion began that Putin's "premeditated war … will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering."
- U.S. intelligence had warned a large-scale invasion "could leave up to 50,000 civilians killed or wounded, decapitate the government in Kyiv within two days, and launch a humanitarian crisis with up to 5 million refugees fleeing the resulting chaos," the Washington Post reported Feb. 5.
What they're saying: Ukraine has severed diplomatic relations with Russia and is calling on all citizens to take up arms to defend the country against a full-scale invasion.
- "Russia treacherously attacked our state in the morning, as Nazi Germany did in World War II years," Zelensky tweeted.
- "As of today, our countries are on different sides of world history. Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won't give up its freedom no matter what Moscow thinks."
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