LIVE FEED of multiple cameras from across Ukraine:
LIVE FEED from Kiev:
Reports are coming in that the Russians have taken over an air base and/or airport near Kiev, possibly with the aim of taking out command and control centers supporting operations in Donbas.
- RUSSIAN MILITARY CARRYING OUT AIRSTRIKES ON UKRAINIAN MILITARY COMPOUNDS AND COMMUNICATION CENTERS NEAR KYIV
- UKRAINE TO IMPOSE MARTIAL LAW – TOP SECURITY OFFICIAL, ACCORDING TO LOCAL MEDIA
- UKRAINE INTERIOR MINISTRY URGES CITIZENS TO HIDE IN SHELTERS
- INTERIOR MINISTRY WARNS UKRAINE CAPITAL OF MISSILE ATTACK
Ukraine is saying Russia’s operation is expending beyond the east, which Putin had previously proclaimed as independent territory. It’s increasingly looking like Russia is taking out all main military command and control centers across Ukraine, while focusing ground troops and manpower on Donbas. Strikes outside the east appear to be focused on neutralizing airfields so there’s no air retaliation. CNN is citing that its correspondents have heard strikes in seven cities across the country.
Update(10:30pmET): The White House is responding: “Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond…The world will hold Russia accountable,” Biden said in a late evening statement. Biden adds that he will address the crisis, vowing “further consequences” tomorrow:
Statement by President Biden on Russia’s Unprovoked and Unjustified Attack on Ukraine
The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.
I will be monitoring the situation from the White House this evening and will continue to get regular updates from my national security team. Tomorrow, I will meet with my G7 counterparts in the morning and then speak to the American people to announce the further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security. We will also coordinate with our NATO Allies to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the Alliance. Tonight, Jill and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine.
CNN is citing Ukraine’s Interior Ministry to say Russian missiles have hit locations in Kiev; however, this remains unclear. There’s conjecture that Russia could be targeting Ukraine military “command and control” centers.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN told the emergency security council meeting: “We are not calling it a war, we are calling a special military operation” in Donbas.
Airspace is closed over Ukraine to all commercial air traffic:
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Update(10:00pmET): At the very moment an emergency session of the UN national security council was in session in New York, Putin gave a speech ordering “a special operation in Donbas”. Russian state media is also confirming. “I have declared a special military operation,” Putin said. Fox News is reporting that Russian forces have entered Ukraine from Crimea.
Putin announced the Russian military action to ‘demilitarize’ Ukraine.” And further he provocatively asserted:
“We decided to launch a special military action […] aimed at demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.”
“The circumstances make us take decisive and immediate actions. The people’s republics of Donbas asked Russia for assistance,” Putin said. “In this regard, in accordance with Article 51, Part 7 of the UN Charter, with the sanction of the Federation Council and in pursuance of the friendship and mutual assistance treaties with the DPR and LPR, ratified by the Federal Assembly, I have decided to conduct a special military operation.” He told Ukrainians to “lay down their arms.”
Crucially, he said that Russia has “no intentions of occupying Ukraine.”
The AP is further confirming “President Vladimir Putin says Russia will conduct a military operation in eastern Ukraine.” Putin warned in his televised speech, “A couple of words for those who would be tempted to intervene. Russia will respond immediately and you will have consequences that you never have had before in your history.”
The following details are coming across the news wires:
- PUTIN CALLS ON UKRAINIAN SOLDIERS TO IMMEDIATELY LAY DOWN THEIR WEAPONS AND GO HOME -TASS
- RUSSIA’S PUTIN SAYS IN CASE OF FOREIGN INTERFERENCE, RUSSIA WILL REACT IMMEDIATELY – TASS
- RUSSIAN FORCES ENTERING UKRAINE FROM CRIMEA IN THE SOUTH -FOX NEWS
- PUTIN SAYS RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY BLOODSHED WILL BE ON THE CONSCIENCE “OF THE UKRAINAIN REGIME” – RIA NEWS AGENCY
CNN and other Western correspondents are claiming to have heard blasts in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev – with their live reporter dramatically donning a helmet and flack jacket, after which everything appeared calm…
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Update(8:26pmET): Russian aviation authorities have ordered some airspace over the Rostov region closed. The region impacted is just to the east of Russia’s border with Ukraine. According to an official alert this is “in order to provide safety” for civil aviation flights.
Further a new Reuters report indicates airlines in the West have begun to receive updated flight risk alerts for the region. “Airlines should stop flying over any part of Ukraine because of the risk of an unintended shootdown or a cyber attack targeting air traffic control amid tensions with Russia, a conflict zone monitor said on Wednesday,” the late Wednesday report reads.
According to further details from the air traffic monitor:
Safe Airspace, which was set up to provide safety and conflict zone information for airlines after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014, said it had increased its risk level to “do not fly”.
“Regardless of the actual movements of Russian forces into Ukraine, the level of tension and uncertainty in Ukraine is now extreme,” Safe Airspace said on its website. “This itself gives rise to significant risk to civil aviation.”
International and European carriers are now being warned about the potential for conflict in Ukraine, with fresh reports they’ve been issued “do not fly” orders for much of the region.
Additionally the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had already issued an alert as of almost two weeks ago warning that a cross-border conflict could erupt at any moment, endangering the skies over the region.
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As the ground war heats up on the frontline in Donbas, we could be hours away from seeing Russian regular forces clash with the Ukrainian Army, after late at night local time the heads of the Donetsk and Luhansk breakaway republics issued a formal request for immediate military help from Moscow.
The pro-Russia rebel leaders said the urgent military help is necessary to repel Ukrainian “aggression” – according to The Associated Press, after Kremlin officials confirmed the letter. “Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the rebel chiefs wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin to tell him that shelling by the Ukrainian military has caused civilian deaths and forced many people to flee,” AP reports.
It comes less than 24 hours after Russian parliament issued formal approval for Putin to deploy military forces abroad. Latvia said earlier on Wednesday it has intelligence confirming the arrival of Russian tanks, troops, and armored vehicles in Donbas.
The appeal from the two eastern Ukraine republics raises the specter of Russia’s military entering direct combat operations with Ukrainian forces. From there it’s easier to imagine things spinning out of control and escalating to the point of fighting going beyond the war-torn Donbas region.
At the same time, Ukraine has now requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, according to an overnight statement by its foreign minister.
According to brief details cited in Bloomberg based on breaking Interfax reports:
• Leaders sent letters to Putin
• Not clear what specific aggression the separatist appeal refers to
• Ukraine has repeatedly said it have no plans for military offensive against the separatists
Based on Putin’s lengthy and bellicose speech that accompanied independence recognition for the republics, it’s very likely the Russian leader will pull the trigger on this.
And some further worrying signs at a moment things on the ground are likely about to get more and more unpredictable…
“We officially declare that Ukraine has not planned and does not plan any sabotage actions at this facility and refute all allegations in this regard,” Ukrainian intelligence officials said in a statement.
All of this comes at a moment of major websites and banks in some cases being offline in Ukraine, following an earlier reported major cyberattack.