Dozens killed as Russia launches attacks across Ukraine
Russian forces have reached the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, as the US and Europe respond with more sanctions. Dozens of people have died since Russia invaded its neighbour, with missiles and shells striking cities across Ukraine. AFP reports that at least 100,000 people have been displaced, with many seeking shelter in underground metro systems.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described as “heroes” the 137 military members who died on the first day of fighting. According to Ukrainian officials, Russian forces have taken control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, a move which prompted the International Atomic Energy Agency to call for “restraint”.
The US has responded with more sanctions, targeting Russian banks and oligarchs, described by President Joe Biden as “corrupt billionaires”. The US president has also placed export controls on Russia, cutting off over half the country’s high-tech imports. The US insists its forces will not be deployed to fight in Ukraine but will instead defend “every inch” of NATO territory.
The EU has also imposed sanctions on Russia’s finance and energy sectors, while French President Emmanuel Macron has also called Putin to demand he put an end to the offensive immediately.
The Russian defence ministry says it has destroyed more than 70 military targets in Ukraine, including 11 airfields. According to Western intelligence reports, Moscow has achieved “complete air superiority” over Ukraine and Russian ground troops have invaded from the north, south, and east, with the sound of bombs forcing many residents to flee their homes.
Putin earlier made a televised address to justify the invasion, claiming it was done to defend the breakaway areas of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, which Russia recognised as independent prior to the assault. The Kremlin claims both self-proclaimed republics asked Russia for military help against Kyiv.
Despite the horror unfolding in their country, many Ukrainians will not give up. Olena Kurilo, a 52-year-old teacher, was one of around 20 people injured by flying shards of glass after a blast in the town of Chuguiv, in eastern Ukraine. Even with her face covered in bandages, she remains defiant.
“Never, under any conditions will I submit to Putin. It is better to die.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of people took to the streets in Moscow to protest against the invasion of their neighbour, but police were quick to shut down the rally. There are reports that more than 1,700 anti-war protesters have been arrested across Russia.
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