Ukraine: Large explosion as missile hits airport in Ivano-Frankivsk
Russian forces have unleashed an attack on Ukraine on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. At dawn, he announced a “special military operation” amid warnings from world leaders that it could spark the biggest war in Europe since 1945. Within minutes of a televised address by Putin, at around 5am Ukrainian time, explosions were heard near major cities including the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
Images on social media also appeared to show civilian infrastructure like apartment blocks being hit with heavy artillery.
Ukraine’s interior ministry reported that the country was under attack from cruise and ballistic missiles.
Western leaders like Boris Johnson have said they are “appalled” by the events, and have hit out with words of condemnation — but any new sanctions or action is yet to be seen, despite desperate pleas by Ukrainian officials.
Before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine took place, Professor Julian Lindley-French, an internationally recognised strategic analyst and adviser in defence, who has worked with NATO, claimed that the West’s reaction to Russia’s aggression proved it was in a geopolitical “mess”.
Russia: The country’s dominance has proved that the West is ‘in a mess’
Kiev: A damaged structure caused by a rocket in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital
Talking about what an invasion would mean, he said: “Russia would have demonstrated it can achieve its objectives to coerce other countries to do what it wants, to be compliant with its aims.
“The demands Putin made during the treaties are ridiculous — the idea that NATO cannot deploy forces to any country that joined NATO after 1997 is nonsense.
“The fundamental principle in this entire conflict is the right of sovereign nations to choose their own alliances and allegiances and that’s what he’s testing, he’s using hard power to test whether we really do stand by our values and principles or whether we’re just paper tigers.
“Many European countries, maybe even the UK, are paper tigers because let’s be blunt, the Western European powers Britain, France and Germany are in a mess.”
He noted how Germany did not want to involve itself in any serious conflict because of its vested interests with Russia, including the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which for now has been halted.
JUST IN: Putin’s fatal achilles heel exposed: ‘What makes him dangerous’
Fleeing: Citizens in Kiev have poured out of the city for fear of their lives
Prof Lindley-French continued: “Germany is often selfish when it comes to these kinds of issues, and its public is childish when it comes to these issues.
“Macron is obsessed with his leadership campaign for reelection, and is pumping forward this EU idea of European strategic autonomy, which can only come as a functional power that France doesn’t have.
“And one only has to look at the nonsense [that happened] in London with ‘Partygate’, an elite establishment obsessed with their own inner struggles, who seem to give not a damn for the wellbeing of the country or its interests.
“For those of us who are citizens, the whole unedifying spectacle is frankly embarrassing.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss today said she has summoned Russia’s ambassador to the UK to “explain Russia’s illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”.
She tweeted: ‘We will be imposing severe sanctions and rallying countries in support of Ukraine.”
Mr Johnson is expected to announce a new round of sanctions after chairing an emergency Cobra meeting with ministers this morning.
On Twitter, the Prime Minister said Putin had “chosen a path of bloodshed” and vowed to “respond decisively” in concert with allies.
Blow for Putin as Ukraine shoots down FIVE planes [REPORT]
Putin support CRUMBLING – furious Russians lose patience [INSIGHT]
Terrifying meaning behind Z emblazoned on Russian tanks [ANALYSIS]
War: Many took cover this morning as air raid sirens blasted across Kiev
Chuguiv: An injured man in the eastern Ukrainian town of Chuguiv
The first set of sanctions, announced on Monday, targeted five Russian banks and three Russian billionaires whose assets were frozen.
Many, however, including figures in the Government like Tom Tugendhat, said they did not go far enough and actually gave Russia confidence in its pursuits.
On invading Ukraine, Putin urged Ukrainian soldiers in the combat zone to lay down their weapons and go home.
However, he said clashes were inevitable and it was “only a question of time”.
Russian invasion: Putin has Ukraine cornered on nearly every side
He added that any intervention from outside powers to resist the Russian attack would be met with an “instant” response and they would be destroyed.
In the early hours, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Russia had carried out missile strikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure and on border guards.
Russia’s defence ministry has denied attacking Ukrainian cities.
It says it has targeted military infrastructure, air defence and air forces with “high-precision weapons”.
Vladimir Putin: The Russian President has warned the West against intervention
However, images and videos posted on social media appear to show civilian fallout from Russian strikes.
AFP News Agency shared photographs of a son weeping over the body of his father among the wreckage of a missile strike in a residential district in Chuguiv, eastern Ukraine.
An apartment block was also seen in tatters after being hit with artillery, shared by the fact-checking organisation, Bellingcat.