MOSCOW – President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky calls on world leaders to provide defense assistance to Ukraine and help protect its airspace from Russia.
In a statement amid Russia’s large-scale attack on Ukraine, which began early Thursday, Zelensky said Russia had “unleashed war on Ukraine and the entire democratic world.”
He asked world leaders to provide large-scale support for defense and protect Ukraine’s airspace from the “aggressor”.
THIS IS AN UPDATE OF NEWS. The previous history of the AP is given below.
MOSCOW (AP) – Russian troops launched a large-scale attack on Ukraine on Thursday, when President Vladimir Putin rejected international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to intervene would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”
Before dawn, major explosions erupted in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odessa as world leaders condemned the start of an invasion that could lead to mass casualties, overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government and threaten the balance after the continent’s Cold War.
Ukrainians began to flee some cities, and the Russian military claimed that in a few hours dismantled all air defenses and air bases in Ukraine.
President Vladimir Zelensky has declared martial law, saying Russia has struck at Ukraine’s military infrastructure. Ukrainians, who have long been preparing for the prospect of an assault, not knowing exactly when it will take place, were urged to stay at home and not panic, even when the country’s border agency reported artillery shelling of Russian troops from neighboring Belarus.
President Joe Biden has promised to impose new sanctions to punish Russia for the aggression that the international community has been waiting for for weeks but has failed to prevent through diplomacy.
Putin justified all this in a televised address, claiming that the attack was necessary to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine – a false statement that the United States predicted as a reason for the invasion. He accused the United States and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine’s accession to NATO and security guarantees. He also said that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine, but will go to its “demilitarization” and bring to justice those who committed crimes.
In a written statement, Biden condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack” and promised that the United States and its allies would “bring Russia to justice.” The president said he plans to hold talks with Americans Thursday after a meeting of G7 leaders. New sanctions against Russia are expected to be announced on Thursday.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba described the attack as a “full-scale invasion” and said Ukraine would “defend and win.” The world can and should stop Putin. It’s time to act. “
In the capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko advised residents to stay at home if they are not involved in critical work, and urged to prepare bags with the necessary things and documents if they need to be evacuated. An Associated Press photographer in Mariupol said he heard explosions and saw dozens of people with suitcases heading to their cars to leave the city.
“War and terror await us. What could be worse? ” This was reported in Kiev, 64-year-old Lyudmila Gireeva. She planned to head to the western city of Lviv and then try to move to Poland to join her daughter. Putin “will be cursed by history, and Ukrainians will curse him.”
Russia’s allegations of undermining Ukrainian air defenses and Ukraine’s allegations that several Russian planes were shot down could not be verified immediately. The Ukrainian air defense system and the air force date back to Soviet times and are unlike Russia’s massive aviation and its high-precision weapons inventory.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was not targeting cities but using high-precision weapons, and said “there is no threat to the civilian population.”
Adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Anton Gerashchenko said on Facebook that the Russian military had launched missile strikes on Ukrainian military command facilities, air bases and military depots in Kiev, Kharkiv and the Dnieper.
After the first explosions in Kiev on the streets could be heard people shouting. Then came a sense of normalcy: cars were driving and people were walking the streets when the journey before dawn seemed to start relatively quietly.
The consequences of the conflict and the ensuing sanctions against Russia could affect the world, change the geopolitical dynamics in Europe, as well as affect energy supplies to Europe and shake global financial markets.
Asian stock markets collapsed, and oil prices rose when the attack began. Earlier, the benchmark Wall Street S&P 500 fell 1.8% to an eight-month low after the Kremlin said rebels in eastern Ukraine had asked for military assistance.
Anticipating international condemnation and countermeasures, Putin issued a strong warning to other countries not to interfere, saying: “Anyone who tries to hinder us, let alone threaten our country and its people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and lead. to consequences you have never seen in history. ”
Putin called on the Ukrainian military to “lay down its arms immediately and go home.”
Recalling Russia’s nuclear power, Putin warned that “no one should doubt that a direct attack on our country will lead to destruction and terrible consequences for any potential aggressor.” He stressed that Russia is “one of the most powerful nuclear powers and also has a certain advantage in a number of new weapons.”
Although the United States announced on Tuesday the redeployment of forces around the Baltics, Biden said he would not deploy troops to fight Russia.
Putin announced a military operation after the Kremlin said insurgents in eastern Ukraine had asked Russia for military assistance to help repel Ukrainian “aggression,” an announcement the White House called Moscow’s operation a “bogus flag.” offer a basis for invasion.
Putin’s statement came hours after the Ukrainian president rejected Moscow’s claims that his country posed a threat to Russia, and made a last-minute call for peace.
“The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,” Zelensky said in an emotional night address, speaking in Russian in a direct address to Russian citizens. “But if we are attacked, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. If you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs. ”
Zelensky said he had asked to arrange a call with Putin late Wednesday, but the Kremlin did not respond.
Clearly referring to Putin’s move to authorize the deployment of Russian troops to “maintain peace” in eastern Ukraine, Zelensky warned that “this move could mark the beginning of a major war on the European continent.”
“Any provocation, any spark can cause a fire that will destroy everything,” he said.
He denied the statements of Russian propaganda, saying that “you are told that this fire will bring freedom to the people of Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people are free.”
At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council convened by Ukraine because of the imminent threat of Russian invasion, members who are not yet aware of Putin’s statement asked him to stop the attack. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the meeting just before the announcement, telling Putin: “Stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give the world a chance. Too many people have already died. “
NATO Secretary-General Jen Stoltenberg has issued a statement condemning “Russia’s reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which threatens countless lives of civilians. Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts of diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country. “
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have vowed to hold the Kremlin accountable.
“In these dark hours, we are thinking about Ukraine and innocent women, men and children who are facing this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” they wrote on Twitter.
Even before Putin’s statement, dozens of countries imposed sanctions on Russia, which further pushed Russian oligarchs and banks out of international markets.
Russia’s foreign ministry has waived the sanctions, saying “Russia has proven that with all the costs of sanctions, it can minimize the damage.”
Karmanov and Heinz reported from Kyiv. Angela Charlton in Paris; Frank Jordans in Berlin; Lorne Cook in Brussels, Frank Bayak in Boston, Robert Burns, Matthew Lee, Amer Madhani, Eric Tucker, Ellen Nickmeyer, Zick Miller, Chris Megerian and Darlene Superville in Washington.
Follow the coverage of the Ukrainian crisis in the AP on https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.