Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast on Thursday, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east. Shortly after Putin spoke in a televised address on Russian state TV, explosions could be heard in the pre-dawn quiet of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. President Zelenskyy has since released a video message to Twitter.
He said: “Dear Ukrainians, this morning, President Putin announced a special military operation in the Donbas.
“Russia carried out strikes on our military infrastructure, on our border guards.
“Explosions were heard in many cities of Ukraine.
“We introduce martial law throughout the state.
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“A minute ago, I had a conversation with President Biden. The US is starting to gather international support.
“Today we need you, each of you to be calm. If possible, stay at home, please.
“We are working, the army is working. The entire security and defence sector of Ukraine is working.
“I, the National Security and Defence Council, the government will be in touch.
“President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine.
“The UK and our allies will respond decisively.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said Mr Johnson had assured Mr Zelensky the West “would not stand by as President Putin waged his campaign against the Ukrainian people”.
“The Prime Minister said he hoped Ukraine could resist and that Ukraine and its people were in the thoughts of everyone in the United Kingdom people during this dark time,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Putin announced the action during a televised address early on Thursday morning, saying the move was a response to threats from Ukraine.