Breaking: Russian president Vladimir Putin has effectively declared war on Ukraine in the early hours of the morning local time. In a nationally televised speech, the Russian leader announced that Russia will embark on a “special military operation” in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has closed Airports in the east in response to the heightened aerial threat.
Updated 12:59pm 24/02/2022
- NATO has put more than 100 warplanes on alert and is reinforcing its presence in the east.
- Ukrainian military plane shot down. Authorities confirm five dead.
- Some 130’000 Russian troops currently sit on Ukraine’s borders. Russia has begun attacking Ukraine via the Crimean and Belarusian borders.
- Putin’s televised address states he has no intention of occupying Ukraine. He says Russia’s special military operation aims to ensure a “demilitarisation” of Ukraine.
- Ukraine says Russia has set in motion a “full-scale invasion” as Russia moves missile launchers into Russian-occupied Donetsk.
- The Ukrainian government have closed Airports in the east. Ukrainian and affected Russian airspace is at a standstill. EASA warns against air travel in neighbouring countries.
- Martial law declared in Ukraine. Citizens urged to flee the country. Several countries introduce warnings to citizens remaining in Ukraine.
- Air raid sirens can be heard in Kyiv alongside suspected missile impacts.
NATO Readies Warplanes and Reinforces Troops On The Ground
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the organisation has no plans to deploy in Ukraine despite preparing over 100 warplanes. The military alliance has also added to its existing troop presence on the ground, arming against a potential escalation of this already deteriorating situation.
“Peace on our continent has been shattered. Russia is using force to try to rewrite history, and deny Ukraine its free and independent path.” Stoltenberg said in a news conference.
As Ukraine is not a NATO alliance member, NATO currently has no troops inside Ukraine. Stoltenberg says increasing troops on the eastern flank is a defensive measure. Despite this, NATO intends to set up its defensive measures by sending troops including the high combat-readiness NATO response force to Eastern European countries. Moves to set up combat units in Romania and Bulgaria, and possibly Hungary and Slovakia are also in the planning.
Five Dead As Ukrainian Authorities Confirm Military Plane Shot Down
Reuters report confirms five dead as a military plane was shot down this morning. Ukrainian armed forces are preparing themselves for the fight of their lives as they manage the ongoing Russian invasion.
Putin Declares “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Kyiv was not sound asleep. Instead, an impending sense of fear and anger set into the masses as President Putin effectively declared war on Ukraine on national television.
In the televised speech, the Russian leader indicated he had no intentions to occupy Ukraine despite the fear of many world leaders. He simply said that bloodshed lies within the Ukrainian “regime”.
Putin continued to add that Russia’s military operation aims to ensure a demilitarisation of Ukraine. He promised safe passage out of conflict zones to Ukrainian servicemen and women who lay down their arms.
Along with stating his intentions to invade his neighbour, Putin issued strong words to those who intend to stop him. He accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. In a stark warning to other countries who intend to interfere with Russia’s assault, president Putin sternly said it would lead to “consequences they have never seen”.
Airspace and Airports Return To Covid-Like Scenes As Flights Grounded and Airports Closed
The Ukrainian government announced the immediate and sudden closure of three airports in Ukraine’s east late on Wednesday night. Kharkiv International Airport, one of Ukraine’s busiest airports located on the Russian border, was due to reopen its runway at 8:35 am local time on Thursday. However, overnight events meant the airport’s runway remains closed, and it will likely remain that way for some time.
Ukraine has since closed its airspace, citing unsafe conditions for civilian travel. There is a mounting risk of airstrikes in the Donbas and Donetsk regions following sightings of Russian missile launchers in the area. Several missiles have already been launched at major Ukrainian cities.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has warned against flying in neighbouring countries such as Belarus and Russia.
“There is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft. The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a high risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels,” said the regulator this morning.
Many airlines around Europe have already ceased travel to the eastern block country when threats were rising earlier in the week. Aircraft flying to or from airports in the UK have been ordered to avoid Ukraine’s airspace by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
British airlines Wizz Air and Ryanair were among the last airlines flying between Ukraine and the UK before suspending flights early Thursday morning.
Russia Takes Aim At Ukrainian Airports and Military Bases
Since the early hours of Thursday morning, Russia has been launching airstrikes at key locations and transport hubs, including civilian airports. Alec Luhn, a former Russia correspondent for the Guardian and Telegraph, took to Twitter to share footage of what appears to be a missile striking an airport in Ivano-Frankivsk, Western Ukraine.