Russia-Ukraine (Feb. 24): Explosions Heard in Kyiv, Official Says Enemy Aircraft Downed

Russia-Ukraine (Feb. 24): Explosions Heard in Kyiv, Official Says Enemy Aircraft Downed
Ukrainian servicemen patrol in the settlement of Troitske in the Lugansk region near the front line with Russia-backed separatists on Feb. 22, 2022. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian forces downed an enemy aircraft over Kyiv in the early hours of Friday, which then crashed into a residential building and set it on fire, said Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister.

It was unclear whether the aircraft was manned. Herashchenko wrote on Telegram that a nine-story residential building was on fire.

A series of explosions were heard in Kyiv earlier, which Herashchenko said were the sounds of air defences firing at the aircraft.


Australia Imposes More Sanctions on Russia, Criticizes China’s Response

Australia imposed more sanctions on Friday against Russia targeting several of its elite citizens and lawmakers, and said it was "unacceptable" that the Chinese regime was easing trade restrictions with Moscow at a time when it invaded Ukraine.

"We will work along with our partners for a rolling wave of sanctions and continuing to ratchet up that pressure on Russia," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a media conference.

Morrison voiced concerns over the "lack of strong response" from China and criticized Beijing about reports it had eased trade curbs with Moscow by allowing imports of wheat from Russia.

"You don't go and throw a lifeline to Russia in the middle of a period when they are invading another country. That is simply unacceptable," he said.


EU Leaders Agree on More Sanctions Against Russia

European Union leaders put on a united front early on Friday after a six-hour meeting during which they agreed on a second package of economic and financial sanctions against Russia.

The legal texts for the sanctions agreed were expected to be finalized overnight and to be submitted for approval to EU foreign affairs ministers during a meeting scheduled Friday afternoon.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine's invasion put into question Europe's peace order and said the EU will hold the Kremlin accountable for its actions, saying sanctions will have a maximum impact on the Russian elite.

Von der Leyen said the package, decided in concertation with western allies, includes targeting 70 percent of the Russian banking market and key state-owned companies, including in defense.


Update: Feb. 25, 2:30–3:30 a.m. Ukraine local time:

Ukraine Orders General Mobilization, Announces New Death Toll

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signed a decree ordering a general mobilization of the population after Russia started attacking the country in the early hours of Thursday.
The decree, on the presidential website, said the mobilization "to ensure the defence of the state" would be carried out within 90 days of the decree coming into force.

The mobilization order applies to the territories of Vinnytsia, Volyn, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zhytomyr, Zakarpattia, Zaporizhia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Luhansk, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Poltava, Rivne, Sumy, Ternopil, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmelnytsky, Cherkasy, Chernivtsi, Chernihiv regions, and the city of Kyiv.


UN Council to Vote on Condemning Invasion

The U.N. Security Council will vote Friday on a resolution that would condemn Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine “in the strongest terms.” It also would demand an immediate halt to Russia’s invasion and the withdrawal of all Russian troops.

The final draft resolution, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, would reaffirm the council’s commitment “to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”

The council is scheduled to vote at 3 p.m. EST Friday.


Update: Feb. 25, 3:00 a.m. Ukraine local time:

World Bank Preparing Ways to Support Ukraine

The World Bank said on Thursday it was preparing options to provide immediate support to Ukraine's government, as the development lender and the International Monetary Fund assess the economic fallout from the conflict in Ukraine.
"We stand ready to provide immediate support to Ukraine and are preparing options for such support, including fast-disbursing financing," World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement, adding that the institution was "horrified by the shocking violence and loss of life" in Ukraine.
The statement came after Malpass told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday that the bank was preparing a $350 million disbursement to Ukraine for budget support by the end of March.
It was unclear, however, what resources may be available to aid Ukraine's people if Zelensky's government is deposed by Russian forces.


Update: Feb. 25, 2:00 a.m. Ukraine local time:

Ukraine Prohibits Men Aged 18 to 60 Years Old From Leaving Country: Official

A Ukrainian official announced late Thursday it is prohibiting males aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country after Russia invaded earlier in the day.
The head of Lviv regional customs, Daniil Menshikov, posted an "urgent message" to Facebook saying that "due to the military state, men—citizens of Ukraine, aged 18 to 60 will not be released outside our state," according to a translation.

He added: "Please do not create panic and do not try to cross the border on your own! Victory is upon us! Glory to Ukraine!"

The country started enlisting reservists between those ages, according to Ukraine's armed forces.

"We are giving away weapons and we will continue doing so to anyone who will ask for it in order to protect our sovereignty," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on social media. "Our future depends on each and every citizen."


Update: Feb. 24, 11:30 p.m. Ukraine local time:

Sean Penn in Ukraine Filming Documentary About Russian Invasion: Government

Actor and director Sean Penn is in Ukraine filming a documentary amid the invasion by the Russian military, the Ukrainian government said.

“The director specially came to Kyiv to record all the events that are currently happening in Ukraine and to tell the world the truth about Russia’s invasion of our country,” the Ukrainian government said in a statement on Thursday. “Sean Penn is among those who support Ukraine in Ukraine today. Our country is grateful to him for such a show of courage and honesty.”


Update: Feb. 24, 10:20 p.m. Ukraine local time:

Pentagon: Russians ‘Decapitating’ Ukraine in Multi-Step Attack

A U.S. Department of Defense official said Western intelligence believes Russia is trying to decapitate the government of Ukraine and seek to install their own officials to take charge of the country.
“It’s our assessment that [Russian forces] have every intention of basically, decapitating the government and installing their own method of governance, which would explain these early moves towards Kyiv,” the official said in a DOD news release.

Officials said that there is fighting within 20 miles of the center of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, as well as Kharkiv, one of the largest cities in Ukraine.

“These three axes are … clearly designed to take key population centers,” the official said.


Update: Feb. 24, 9:11 p.m. Ukraine local time:

Biden Announces Sanctions Against Russia

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced he is hitting Russia and President Vladimir Putin with more sanctions after Moscow mounted a land invasion in Ukraine.

“Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said, adding that the Untied States will use export controls against Moscow to “impose severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time.”

Biden, meanwhile, said he and Western powers would attempt to make Putin a "pariah on the international stage."


Turkish Ship Hit by Bomb in Black Sea

A Turkish-owned vessel was struck by a bomb near Ukraine’s port city of Odessa on Thursday, said the Turkish Maritime General Directorate.

They said that there were no casualties, according to Turkish officials. The ship was en route to Romanian waters, they said.

“Upon information that the Marshall Islands-flagged Turkish-owned Yasa Jupiter ship was struck by a bomb off the coast of Odessa, it was learned that the ship has no request for help, is en route to Romanian waters, has no casualties, and is safe,” the authority wrote on Twitter.

Officials told CNN’s Turkish edition that the ship is the Marshall Islands-flagged, Turkish-owned Yasa Jupiter—and that it took “slight material damage.”


Update: Feb. 24, 8:30 p.m. Ukraine local time:

Chernobyl Captured by Russian Forces: Ukrainian Official

Update: Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m. Ukraine local time:

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been captured by Russian forces, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Thursday.

"It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians," he said.

"This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today," Podolyak said.


Update: Feb. 24 6:01 p.m. Ukraine local time

Ukraine President Claims Russia Trying to Seize Chernobyl

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday claimed Russian military forces in Belarus are attempting to seize the Chernobyl nuclear waste site amid an invasion across the country.

Zelensky said the move is a "declaration of war across Europe."

A Ukraine advisor to Interior Ministry Anton Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook that Russian forces entered the exclusion zone.

"If the invaders artillery hits and ruins / damages the collectors of nuclear waste , radioactive nuclear dust can can [sic] be spread over the territory of Ukraine, Belarus and the country of the EU!” the advisor claimed.

In 1986, Chernobyl, which was operated by the Soviet Union, became the site of the world's worst nuclear accident when a reactor exploded. The disaster spilled radioactive waste across Europe.


Update: Feb. 24 5:35 p.m. Ukraine local time

Kremlin Says Putin Will Decide When Ukraine Invasion Ends

Russian President Vladimir Putin will decide when the invasion of Ukraine will end, said a top Kremlin spokesman on Thursday, coming hours after Russian military forces attacked several Ukrainian cities in what appears to be the most significant European land invasion in decades.

The operation “has its goals and they need to be achieved,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state-run media when asked when the operation would end. He did not provide a timetable.

Moscow is determined to “neutralize the [Ukrainian] military potential, which was boosted considerably lately, including with the active assistance of foreign nations,” Peskov continued to say, without elaborating or providing details.


Update: Feb. 24 4:45 p.m. Ukraine local time

Ukraine to Give Weapons to Anyone Who Can Fight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday morning that the government would provide anyone with weapons from a Russian invasion that was launched in the early morning hours.
“We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities,” Zelensky said in a statement. “We will lift sanctions on all citizens of Ukraine who are ready to defend our country as part of territorial defense with weapons in hands.”


Update: Feb. 24 12:45 p.m. Ukraine local time

NATO to Deploy More Land, Air, Maritime Assets to Eastern Europe

NATO announced it is deploying more assets to Eastern Europe in response to Russia's decision to mount what President Vladimir Putin called a "special military operation" in Ukraine early on Thursday.
"Russia’s actions pose a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security, and they will have geostrategic consequences. NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the security and defence of all Allies," the statement from the 30-member alliance said in a statement.

"We are deploying additional defensive land and air forces to the eastern part of the Alliance, as well as additional maritime assets. We have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies."


Update: Feb. 24 12:13 p.m. Ukraine local time

Ukraine Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Russia, Says at Least 40 Killed

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his country has cut diplomatic ties with Russia after it was attacked. The announcement comes after Russia launched a massive air and missile attack on its neighbor and Russian forces were seen rolling into Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials say the country’s military is fighting back and asked for Western defense assistance.

Russian forces have launched an attack on Ukraine from the north, east and south, according to a Ukrainian presidential adviser.

The adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said “the Ukrainian military is fighting hard.”

Podolyak said Thursday that "our army is fighting back inflicting significant losses to the enemy.” He said that there have been civilian casualties, but didn’t give details.

He said that “Ukraine now needs a greater and very specific support from the world—military-technical, financial as well as tough sanctions against Russia,” he said.

Oleksii Arestovich, another Ukrainian presidential adviser, said Thursday that several dozen people—about 40 so far—have been killed. He didn’t specify whether the casualties included civilians.

Zelensky said the Ukrainian authorities will hand weapons to all those willing to defend the country.

“The future of the Ukrainian people depends on every Ukrainian,” he said, urging all those who can defend the country to come to the Interior Ministry’s assembly facilities.


Update: Feb. 24 11:45 a.m. Ukraine local time

US Lawmakers, World Leaders Condemn Russia's Attack of Ukraine

Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the United States and leaders from around the world have condemned Russia's "unprovoked and unjustified attack" of Ukraine on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in the country.


Update: Feb. 24 11:25 a.m. Ukraine local time

8 Dead, 14 Wounded as Russia Launches Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine: Officials

Moscow-led attacks on military units in Ukraine killed at least eight people and wounded 14 others, Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Thursday.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a statement Thursday that six people were killed and seven were wounded in a bombing incident in the city of Podolsk, in the Odessa province, noting that 19 people were still missing.

Russia’s ministry of defense issued a statement saying that its military is targeting Ukraine’s military infrastructure.

Zelenskyy has directed the head of Ukraine’s armed forces, Major General Valeriy Zaluzhny, to “inflict maximum losses against the aggressor,” according to AFP.


Update: Feb. 24, 10:45 a.m., Ukraine local time

Oil Surges Above $100 After Putin Orders Military Action Against Ukraine

Oil prices surged above the $100 per barrel mark on Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of military action against Ukraine.

U.S. crude futures were up by 5.46 percent and trading at $97.56 per barrel as of 10:27 a.m. GMT, while Brent crude futures were up 6.47 percent at $103.32, the first time they have been over the $100 mark since 2014.

Meanwhile, natural gas prices at one point surged nearly 6 percent.


Update: Feb. 24, 9:45 a.m., Ukraine local time

Kyiv Sees Gridlock Traffic As Inhabitants Seek to Leave

The roads out of Kyiv have filled with cars bumper-to-bumper on Thursday morning as inhabitants seek to flee to safer areas, even though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had advised people to stay at home unless they are involved in critical work.


Update: Feb. 24, 8:57 a.m., Ukraine local time

US Embassy in Kyiv Tells US Citizens in Ukraine to Shelter in Place

The U.S. embassy in Kyiv issued an announcement advising U.S. citizens in Ukraine to shelter in place amid reports of Russian attacks in multiple cities, including Kyiv.

“There are reports of Russian attacks on targets in a number of major Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Mariupol,” the embassy said on Twitter.

Americans were also advised to “immediately seek cover” if they hear a loud explosion or sirens are activated.

"If in a home or a building, go to the lowest level of the structure with the fewest exterior walls, windows, and openings; close any doors and sit near an interior wall, away from any windows or openings. If you are outdoors, immediately seek cover in a hardened structure; if that is not possible, lie down and cover your head with your hands.

"Be aware that even if the incoming missile or drone is intercepted, falling debris represents a significant risk. After the attack, stay away from any debris, and monitor major news outlets for official guidance.

"Further Russian military action can occur at any time without warning. U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. Know the location of your closest shelter or protected space."


Update: Feb. 24, 7 a.m.—7:30a.m. Ukraine local time

Ukraine Declares Martial Law; Zelensky Building 'Anti-Putin' Coalition

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced martial law early Thursday morning local time.

In a short video address to the nation, Zelensky said that Russia has conducted strikes on Ukraine's military infrastructure and border guards, adding that explosions have been heard in "many cities of Ukraine."

He said he had just spoken to U.S. President Joe Biden and that the United States is planning to more send military assistance to Kyiv.

Zelensky also urged Ukrainians to keep calm and remain at home.

"We are working. The army is working. The whole sector of defense and security is working," he said.

Separately, the Ukrainian president urged global leaders to provide defense assistance to Ukraine.

He said that Russian President Vladimir Putin "has unleashed a war with Ukraine and the entire democratic world.” He added that the Russian leader “wants to destroy our state, everything that we have built.”

"I talked to [US President Joe] Biden, [UK Prime Minister Boris] Johnson, [President of the European Council] Charles Michel, [Polish President Andrzej] Duda, [Lithuanian President Gitanas] Nauseda. We started putting together an anti-Putin coalition," he added. "I have already urged global leaders to slam Putin with all possible sanctions, offer large-scale defense support and close the airspace over Ukraine for the aggressor. Together we must save Ukraine, save the democratic world, and we will do it."


Update: Feb. 24, 6:14 a.m. Ukraine local time

Rubio: Russian Invasion of Ukraine Underway, Russia Trying to Take Control of Kyiv Airport

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, in multiple statements via Twitter, said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is underway, adding that Russian forces are trying to take control of the airport in Kyiv.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine is now underway,” he said. “In the hours to come Russia will: conduct strikes on air defense systems; move to cut off Kyiv from eastern Ukraine; move to cut off Ukraine’s military forces on the line of contact in the east to prevent them from falling back to defend Kyiv.”
In another post, Rubio wrote that Russia was “establishing air superiority via targeted surgical strikes,” “a pincer movement to trap Ukrainian forces in the east [and] cut them off from Kyiv,” and “finally attempt to decapitate Ukrainian govt by targeting govt buildings, leaders & command & control systems.”
He added, “Russia’s airborne forces are attempting to take control of the airport in Kyiv [so] they can fly in forces to occupy the [capital] city.”

“An amphibious assault on the key port city of Mariupol is now underway,” he added. “Ground forces now moving in from Belarus, Crimea, and from Russia.”

Ukraine announced early Thursday that passengers and staff have been evacuated from Kyiv airport.


Update: Feb. 24, 5:30 a.m–6:50 a.m. Ukraine local time

Explosions Reported in Ukraine’s Capital, Other Cities

Shortly after Putin's address, explosions were reported in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, as well as in other cities, including Kharkiv, Mariupol, and Odesa.
Later, livestream video obtained by CNN shows tanks rolling into Ukraine from a border crossing with Belarus at around 6:48 a.m. local time.
Read the full story here


Update: Feb. 24, 5:00 a.m. Ukraine local time

Putin Declares 'Special Military Operation' in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine on Thursday.

Putin said in an emergency televised address that the military operation is intended to protect civilians and to demilitarize Ukraine, and is a response to threats coming from Ukraine.

He said that Russia doesn't plan to occupy Ukraine and said that the Ukrainian military should "immediately lay down its arms."

Read the full story here


Update: Feb. 24, 3:00 a.m. Ukraine local time

Ukraine Closes Airspace to Civilian Flights

Citing a high risk to safety, Ukraine’s State Air Traffic Services Enterprise confirmed it closed the country’s airspace at 2:45 a.m. local time.
Meanwhile, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) warned of a high risk to civilian aircraft over Ukraine, as well as bordering areas of Russia and Belarus, reminding air operators that “this is now an active conflict zone.”

"Under these circumstances, the aforementioned airspace and critical infrastructure, including airports, are exposed to military activities which result in safety risks for civil aircraft. In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft," the agency said.

EASA said Russia's defence ministry had sent Ukraine an urgent message warning of a high risk to flight safety, due to the use of weapons and military equipment from 2:45 a.m. local time, and asked Ukraine's air traffic control to stop flights.


Mimi Nguyen Ly, Isabel van Brugen, Katabella Roberts, Jack Phillips, Zachary Stieber, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.
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