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Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared war on Ukraine.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also declared martial law and urged citizens not to panic as Russia launched military strikes on the country, while the country’s foreign minister called it a 'full-scale invasion'.
Putin announced his decision during a televised address on Thursday morning (24 Feb), claiming that the move was a response to threats from Ukraine.
Ukraine’s border guard agency said the Russian military attacked the country from neighbouring Belarus.
The agency said that the Russian troops unleashed an artillery barrage as part of an attack backed by Belarus and Ukrainian border guards were firing back, adding that there was no immediate report of casualties.
Russia’s military said it had targeted Ukrainian air bases and other military assets and had not targeted populated areas.
Explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as well as Odesa and Kharkiv following Vladimir Putin’s announcement that the military operation had begun.
The sound of distant blasts were picked up in a live broadcast from CNN, causing reporter Matthew Chance to put on a flak jacket.
The Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, added that Russia has launched a 'full-scale invasion of Ukraine'.
Mr Kuleba said that Ukraine would defend itself against the Russian aggression 'and will win'.
He 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.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Putin has 'chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction' with his attack on Ukraine and that the UK and its allies would respond 'decisively'.
A Downing Street spokesperson said the Prime Minister will chair a Cobra committee meeting at 7.30am to discuss the response to the 'horrific attacks'.
In a statement on Twitter, Mr Johnson said he had spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss 'next steps'.
“I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to President Zelenskyy to discuss next steps,” he said.
“President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine.
“The UK and our allies will respond decisively.”
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