Live: Russia launches attack on Ukraine with Putin warning others not to interfere

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Russian military trucks and buses seen in Russia's southern Rostov region, which borders the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, on February 23, 2022.

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Russia launched an attack against Ukraine on Thursday as Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen”.

Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of an Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government.

Putin justified the assault on Ukraine in a televised address, arguing it is needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine — a false claim the U.S. had predicted he would make as a pretext for an invasion.

US President Joe Biden says the world will “hold Russia accountable,” and NATO’s head called Russia’s action a violation of international law and a threat to the security of Europe and its Atlantic allies.

Follow Thursday’s developments live below

06:14

The key points to know

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has declared martial law;Putin said the “special military operation” was “inevitable” and “only a question of time”‘The Russian leader claimed the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine;Any other country that attempts to interfere would see “consequences you have never seen,” Putin added;US, EU, UN chiefs have demanded a stop to the attack;Ukraine has reported its first official deaths, three border guards.

10:33

Borrell says EU is ready to support evacuations from Ukraine

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said on Thursday morning that the European Union was ready to support evacuation operations from Ukraine and provide more financial assistance to the country. The bloc had previously approved a €1.2 billion emergency fund for Kyiv.“We, the European Union, remain the strongest group of nations in the world. And this should not be underestimated. We immediately will be designing urgent assistance to Ukraine in this dire situation,” Borrell said, speaking next to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.“We will also be active in supporting evacuation operations, including of our own staff in zones affected by this Russian attack.”Borrell condemned Moscow for failing to reciprocate the diplomatic efforts made by the West in recent weeks and instead choosing “a grave and premeditated escalation conducting to war.”The diplomat added he will be in touch with allies around the world to make sure Russia faces “unprecedented isolation” in response to the Ukraine invasion.10:25

Russian troops being ‘repulsed’ by Ukrainian forces: Kyiv

The Ukrainian Armed forces said in a statement that its troops are “fighting hard”.”We already have many results. In some areas, the Russian armed forces have been repulsed. The Armed Forces were ready for all of Russia’s scenario plans and are now actively resisting. This resistance will be growing,” Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of the President’s Office said. 10:12

Poland and Baltics call for NATO consultations

Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have requested military consultations under NATO’s Article 4, arguing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses a threat to the whole continent, our Brussels bureau reports.“The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened,” the article says.Even though the Russian aggression is not directed at any NATO member state, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas says “there is a threat to the entire world and to all NATO countries” and consultations should be launched to ensure the Alliance’s defence. Kallas noted the situation at Estonia’s external border was “calm.”10:01

09:54

Ukraine claims up to 50 Russian troops killed, four tanks destroyed

Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement that four Russian tanks “were burned on the bypass road in Kharkiv.”It also said that “close to 50 Russian occupiers were killed in the area of Shchastia” and that they downed another Russian aircraft near Kramatorsk.09:44

UK tells nationals in Ukraine to ‘stay indoors’

Britain’s Foreign Office has reiterated its call for UK nationals to leave Ukraine immediately if at all possible.”If you are in the vicinity of military activity and you cannot leave freely, you should stay indoors, away from windows, and remain alert to developments that would allow you to leave safely,” it said.Those wishing to depart the country might face difficulties, as the Ukrainian airspace si now closed and combat operations mean “roads across Ukraine could be closed.”

09:31

‘Columns of Russia tanks in Luhansk’: Ukraine

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said that “columns of Russian tanks” have entered into the Luhansk region from three separate border checkpoints.”The enemy insidiously put white cars with OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] symbols in front of their colleagues,” it claimed. “Fighting is currently under way on this frontier. Border guards with their counterparts from the Armed Forces and the National Guard are defending themselves,” it added.It announced earlier that three border guards are now known to have lost their lives. 09:24

Former Ukrainian leader compares Putin to Hitler

Petro Poroshenko said in a statement that by taking the decision to launch a military attack against Ukraine Putin has “crossed the final line separating him from Hitler.”He added that the Russian leader “declared war not on Donbas, not only on the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian state, but on Europe and the whole civilised world. And no one has any illusions and no hopes left. Putin understands only power.”09:16

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