Russia Begins Full-Scale Invasion Of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has begun a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine and demanded Kyiv’s army lay down its weapons, starting what could be the largest conflict in Europe since the second world war.

With bombardments of artillery, heavy equipment and small arms, Russian troops launched attacks from Ukraine’s northern border with Belarus, across its eastern frontier with Russia, and in the south from Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula Russia invaded and annexed in 2014.

Soon after, Ukrainian authorities reported columns of Russian tanks and armored vehicles driving into the country from all three fronts. Roads out of Kyiv were gridlocked with civilians fleeing the capital.

In an address on state television shortly before 6 am on Thursday, Russia’s president said Moscow would seek to “de-Nazify” Ukraine and “defend” victims of “genocide”, despite there being no evidence of such crimes.

Putin warned other countries against “the temptation of meddling in the ongoing events” and said Russia’s response would “lead you to consequences that you have never encountered in your history”.

“All responsibility for the possible bloodshed will be fully and completely on the conscience of the ruling regime,” he added. On Moscow’s stock exchange the main index plunged more than 45 percent. The rouble weakened by as much as a tenth against the dollar to a record low of Rbs89.99. Brent crude prices rose as much as 7.2 per cent to more than $103 a barrel, the first time the international oil benchmark has crossed the $100 threshold since 2014.

Global equities markets also fell. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng share gauge lost more than 3 percent.

European stocks opened sharply lower, while futures markets indicated that US equities would drop later in the day.

In Kyiv before dawn on Thursday, Financial Times reporters heard explosions. In the city’s downtown area, an air raid siren sounded at about 7 am, sending people into shelters.

Missile strikes hit about a dozen airfields across the country, including Kyiv’s airport Boryspil and facilities in the Black Sea port city of Odesa. Putin spoke with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko an hour before the Russian president announced the start of the military assault on Ukraine, Minsk said.

The assault from Belarus suggests Russian operations will target Kyiv, which is about just 90km from the Belarusian border.

The Ukrainian authorities said fierce battles were underway as its armed forces resisted the Russian invasion, making unconfirmed claims that it had destroyed multiple Russian tanks, six aircraft and two helicopters.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky called for martial law, in a brief televised address to the nation. He said he had “one hour ago” spoken with his US counterpart Joe Biden.

“We are strong. We are ready for everything. We will defeat everyone. Because we are Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

Source: Financial Times

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