Latest Russia-Ukraine updates: Tens of thousands flee their homes

UN says 100,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes with several thousand crossing into neighbouring countries.

  • The UN refugee agency says an estimated 100,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes.
  • US President Joe Biden announces new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine invasion, says Putin “chose” war.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin launches sweeping Ukraine invasion.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vows to defend his nation, declares martial law.
  • He calls on citizens to fight, says weapons will be issued to everyone who wants them.
  • Kyiv reports dozens of casualties, including more than 40 troops and up to 10 civilians.
  • Western powers condemn Moscow’s move, prepare economic sanctions.

The live blog is now closed; thank you for joining us. Here are the updates for February 24:

Republican senator criticises Biden for not sanctioning Putin

Key Republican Senator Lindsey Graham slammed Biden for not targeting Putin personally with sanctions.

“The Biden Administration continues to misread the moment,” Graham wrote in a series of tweets. “We should not be seeking permission from allies to go after Putin and his cronies. We should move ahead forcefully against Putin, a war criminal, and demand our allies join us!”

Blinken speaks with top diplomats of Turkey, Baltic states

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with the foreign ministers of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Turkey, the State Department said on Thursday.

“Secretary Blinken strongly condemned Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine and emphasized the importance of Allied unity for the strong, swift response to Russia’s aggression,” the department said in a statement describing the talks with the diplomats from the Baltic states.

In a separate statement on Blinken’s call with Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu, the State Department said, “Blinken thanked Turkey for its strong and vocal support in defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

US House Speaker Pelosi: Response will be ‘devastating for Russia’

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, said the response by the US and its allies to Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine “will be severe, ongoing and devastating for Russia, economically, diplomatically, and strategically”.

Pelosi lauded the sanctions announced by Biden earlier on Thursday and said Washington and its partners are “united with unprecedented strength”.

“The United States Congress joins President Biden and all Americans in praying for the Ukrainian people,” she said in a statement.

Russian forces have advanced closer to Kyiv: US defence official

Russian forces are making advances on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and Moscow has continued to flow forces into the country, a senior US defense official has said.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that so far Russia had fired more than 160 missiles at Ukrainian targets.

Russia wants to block Kyiv, create land corridor to Crimea and Transdniestria, Kyiv says

Ukraine’s military has said that Russian forces aim to block Kyiv while creating a land corridor on the southern coast towards the annexed Crimea peninsula and the Transdniestria region of Moldova.

Ukrainian forces have battled Russian invaders on three sides after Moscow mounted an assault by land, sea and air.

100,000 Ukrainians believed to be displaced

The UN refugee agency has said an estimated 100,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes and that several thousand have crossed into neighbouring countries, mainly Romania and Moldova.

Ukraine foreign minister says US told him it plans to deliver defensive weapons

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said that he has spoken to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who told him about “plans to deliver new defensive weapons to help Ukraine defend itself”.

Kuleba made the remarks on Twitter, but did not give details. He added, “We need the world to help us”.

‘The whole of Europe is in major danger’: Former Zelenskyy adviser

Speaking to Al Jazeera on the nuclear issue, Igor Novikov, former advisor to Zelenskyy said: “We need help explaining the dangers to our friends in the West.

“I mean, Ukraine has 15 active nuclear reactors and nuclear waste in Chernobyl: one mortar miss, and everyone in Europe is facing a major nuclear catastrophe,” Novikov said.

“I’d ask everyone to speak with your political representatives, your friends and peers. Everyone should understand that it’s not only about Ukraine; the whole of Europe is in major danger.”

 EU agrees on new round of Russia sanctions

EU leaders have agreed to impose new sanctions on Russia’s financial, energy and transport sectors and impose export controls, as well as blacklisting more Russians.

“The European Council today agrees on further restrictive measures that will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action,” said a statement by the 27 national EU leaders meeting in Brussels.

“These sanctions cover the financial sector, the energy and transport sectors, dual-use goods as well as export controls and export financing, visa policy, additional listings of Russian individuals and new listing criteria,” the statement said.

Ukrainian forces recapture Hostomel Airfield

Ukrainian forces have recaptured Hostomel airfield, the adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office has said.

EU leaders agree to impose sanctions against Russia that will have ‘massive and severe consequences’

EU leaders have agreed to impose sanctions against Russia that will have “massive and severe consequences”.

Russian forces capture Zmiinyi Island in Black Sea

Ukraine national police has said Russian forces have captured Ukraine’s Zmiinyi Island located in the northwestern Black Sea.

France says Putin needs to understand NATO has nuclear weapons

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that Putin, when making threats about using nuclear weapons, needs to understand that NATO, too, is a nuclear alliance.

Asked whether Putin’s threat of “such consequences that you have never encountered in your history” was tantamount to threatening to use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, Le Drian said it was understood as such.

“Yes, I think that Vladimir Putin must also understand that the Atlantic alliance is a nuclear alliance. That is all I will say about this,” Le Drian said on French television TF1.

US expelling Russian diplomat in tit-for-tat move: State Department

The US is expelling the No. 2 diplomat at the Russian Embassy in Washington in response to Russia’s recent expulsion of the US deputy chief of mission in Moscow, a senior State Department spokesperson has said.

“The US believes that it is critical that our countries have the necessary diplomatic personnel in place to facilitate communication between our governments.  However, we will not let actions like these go without a response,” the spokesperson said.

Latvia’s PM says Putin and his regime need to be isolated from the world

Putin is fighting democracy with his decision to invade Ukraine, and the EU must take sanctions that isolate him for the rest of the world, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins has said.

“We need to say very clearly to Putin that this is by no means acceptable and the general direction is to isolate ever more Putin and his regime from the rest of the world through the various sanctions”, Karins told reporters before an extraordinary meeting of EU leaders.

“Putin is fighting against democracy… If he can attack Ukraine, theoretically it could be any other European country”, he added.

FAA expands area in Eastern Europe, Russia where US airlines cannot operate

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said it is expanding the area in Eastern Europe and Russia where US airlines and US pilots cannot operate.

The US agency issued expanded notices barring operations that now cover the entire country of Ukraine, the entire country of Belarus and a western portion of Russia. Prior to the new restrictions, the FAA prohibited operations in an eastern region of Ukraine. The restrictions do not apply to military operations.

IAEA says Ukraine power plants running safely, no destruction at Chernobyl

Ukraine’s operational nuclear power plants are running safely and securely and there has been no “destruction” at the remaining waste and other facilities at Chernobyl, the UN nuclear watchdog has said, citing Ukraine’s nuclear regulator.

“Ukraine has informed the IAEA that ‘unidentified armed forces’ have taken control of all facilities of the State Specialized Enterprise Chornobyl NPP, located within the Exclusion Zone,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

“The counterpart added that there had been no casualties nor destruction at the industrial site.”

Ukraine requested urgent debate at Human Rights Council, UN says

Ukraine has requested an urgent debate be held at the UN Human Rights Council on the situation stemming from the “Russian aggression”, the United Nations has said.

“This is [a] response to the extremely grave deterioration in the human rights situation in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s hostilities on Ukrainian territory,” Yevheniia Filipenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said in a letter sent to the president’s forum, posted in a tweet by its mission to the UN in Geneva.

The EU said in a separate tweet that it supported the move.

The Council president will meet and discuss the request with the 47-member body for its consideration, a UN statement said. A simple majority is needed to hold an urgent debate during its main annual month-long session opening on Monday.

Biden hits Russia with tough export curbs, slashing its access to global tech

The Biden administration has announced sweeping export restrictions against Russia, hammering its access to global exports of everything from commercial electronics and computers to semiconductors and aircraft parts.

The controls, announced by the Commerce Department rely on a dramatic expansion of the so-called Foreign Direct Product rule, forcing companies making high and low tech items overseas with US tools to seek a license from the US before shipping to Russia.

The rules also instruct the Commerce Department to deny almost all of those license requests.

Iran’s Raisi denounces NATO in call with Putin

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has said NATO expansion toward the east creates tensions in a call with Putin, calling it a “serious threat against the stability and security of independent countries in various regions”.

Raisi also said he hopes “what is happening will end up to the benefit of nations and the region”, according to his website.

Putin was quoted as saying the current situation is a “legitimate response to decades of violating security accords” and a Western effort to harm Russia.

Ukraine says 57 people killed on first day of Russian invasion

Ukraine’s Health Minister Oleh Lyashko has said 57 people have been killed and 169 wounded.

Separately, the deputy defence minister reported heavy Russian shelling was still underway in the eastern Donetsk region.

US sanctions Belarus over support for Russia’s invasion

The US’ sanctions include 24 Belarusian individuals and entities over their support for Moscow’s attack, the US Treasury Department has said.

The US sanctions target two state-owned banks – Belinvestbank and Bank Dabrabyt – as well as Belarus’ defense and security industries and defense officials, Treasury said.

They target Aliaksandr Mikalaevich Zaitsau, a former Belarusian government official and a member of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko’s inner circle, the department said.

Military transport aircraft crashes in southern Russia: Interfax

A Russian AN-26 military transport aircraft has crashed in Russia’s southern Voronezh region, killing its crew on board, Interfax news agency has quoted Russian military officials as saying.

The accident could have been caused by a technical failure and has not inflicted any damage on the ground, Interfax said, citing a press office of Russia’s western military district.

New sanctions to isolate Russia from global economy: Correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett speaking from Washington, DC said the new sanctions on Russia, which are being coordinated with European allies, would isolate the country from the global economy.

“This is going to – in the United States specifically – any assets that Russia currently holds in the United States, are now frozen,” Halkett said.

In his speech from the White House, Halkett added, Biden signaled to the American public that the US is closely monitoring the situation in order to assess whether or not to send its own troops.

“The President was very carefully making the argument to Americans that right now, while there are no boots on the ground of American soldiers in Ukraine, should this conflict spill over into neighbouring NATO countries, that would change.”

US to send 7,000 troops already on alert to Germany: US official

The US is sending 7,000 troops to Germany to help reassure NATO allies who are part of a larger contingent that had already been put on alert earlier this year, a senior US defense official has said.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the troops would be made up of an armored brigade combat team and would leave for Germany in the coming days.

Biden says Putin will be a pariah on the international stage

Biden has said that Putin would cost Russia dearly and leave him as a pariah on the international stage.

He also described it as a dangerous moment for Europe but said that freedom would prevail.

Biden says working to secure global energy supplies

The US is working closely with major oil-producing and consuming countries to secure global energy supplies and protect consumers, Biden has said.

Biden said the US was working actively with countries around the world to ensure collective releases from their strategic petroleum reserves, and Washington would release additional barrels of oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve as conditions warranted.

US will ‘defend every inch’ of NATO nations but no troops to Ukraine: Biden

Biden has vowed to defend “every inch” of NATO territory, but reaffirmed that no American troops would be deployed.

“As I made crystal clear, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with a full force of American power,” Biden said in an address to the nation.

The president added, however: “Our forces will not be engaged in a conflict with Russia in Ukraine.”

Biden announces sanctions on Russia’s second largest bank

Biden has announced the imposition of sanctions on Russia’s second largest bank, VTB Bank.

Read more here.

‘[Putin] has much larger ambitions in Ukraine’: Biden

“[Putin] has much larger ambitions in Ukraine. He wants to re-establish the former Soviet Union. That’s what this is about,” Biden has said.

“And I think that his ambitions are completely contrary to the place where the rest of the world has arrived.”

Biden sending more US forces to Germany

Biden has said he is authorising the deployment of additional US forces to Germany.

Russia has ‘complete air superiority’ over Ukraine: Western intel official

Russia has “eliminated” Ukraine’s air defences and now controls the skies over the country as it pursues its invasion, a senior Western intelligence official has said.

“Essentially the Russians now have complete air superiority over Ukraine,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Biden announces sanctions and export controls against Russia

Biden has announced severe new sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine, including freezing assets of major banks and cutting off high-tech exports to the country.

“This is going to impose severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time,” Biden said.

He said the steps imposed in coordination with Europe will block top Russian banks from the US financial system and “cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports”.

‘America stands up to bullies’,  Biden says

Biden has said “this cannot go on unanswered.

“If it did, the consequences for America would be much worse. America stands up to the bullies. We stand up for freedom. This is who we are,” Biden said.

“Putin’s actions betray his sinister vision for the future of our world, one where nations take what they want by force.”

Biden says Russian attack on Ukraine unfolding largely as predicted

Russia’s military attack on Ukraine is taking place as US officials had predicted, Biden has said, describing the invasion as “unprovoked”.

“For weeks, we have been warning that this would happen, and now it’s unfolding largely as we predicted,” the president said in a statement at the White House.

He said the invasion marked a “flagrant violation of international law”.

Biden says US will ‘limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen’

Biden has said they will “limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds, and to be part of the global economy.

“Between our actions and those of our allies and partners, we estimate it will cut off more than half of Russians’ high tech imports,” Biden said.

“It will strike a blow to their ability to continue to modernise the military, hurt their aerospace industry – including their space program – hurt their ability to build ships reducing their ability to compete economically. [It] will be a major hit to Putin’s long term strategic ambitions.”

Biden says Russian assault on Ukraine going as Washington predicted

Biden has said that Russia has made an unprovoked assault on Ukraine and it is going largely as the US predicted.

Biden vowed new sanctions after what he called a flagrant violation of international law and Russia’s rejection of diplomacy.

Biden: Russia ‘will bear the consequences’ of new sanctions

Biden has said “Putin chose this war” in Ukraine, and he and Russia “will bear the consequences” of new sanctions.

He said Western sanctions will target four more major Russian banks.

Russia plans to ‘decapitate’ Ukraine’s government, US defence official says

The United States believes Russia’s invasion is designed to “decapitate” Ukraine’s government and one of the three main axes of assault is directed at Kyiv, a senior defence official has said.

“The indications we’ve seen thus far, in just these first, not even 12 hours, are in keeping with our assessment earlier, that would be his goal: to decapitate this government,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“What we’re seeing are initial phases of a large-scale invasion,” the official added, suggesting the other axes of the attack were a Russian advance south into the northern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and a push north out of Russian-controlled Crimea to the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.

“We haven’t seen a conventional move like this, nation state to nation state, since World War II, certainly nothing on this size and scope and scale … It has every potential to be very bloody, very costly and very impactful on European security writ large.”

Scholz condemns Putin, says Western powers will defend eastern NATO allies

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said Western powers will deploy all available resources to ensure that the conflict in Ukraine does not spread to other countries in Europe.

“Putin should not underestimate the determination of NATO to defend all its members. This applies expressly to our NATO partners in the Baltic States, Poland and Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia. No ifs or buts,” Scholz said in a televised address to the nation.

He added that Putin alone bore the responsibility for the attack on Ukraine, but warned the Russian president he “would not win.”

“With the attack on Ukraine, President Putin wants to turn back time. But there is no going back to the 19th century, when great powers ruled over the heads of smaller states,” Scholz said.

Chernobyl power plant captured by Russian forces, Ukrainian official says

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been captured by Russian forces after a fierce battle for control of the now-defunct site, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office says.

“It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians,” Mykhailo Podolyak said.

“This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today,” he added.

India’s Modi urges end to Ukraine violence in call with Putin

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an end to the violence in Ukraine during a phone conversation with Putin, the Indian government says in a statement.

“[The] Prime Minister appealed for an immediate cessation of violence, and called for concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue,” the statement said.

Russia says first day of Ukraine invasion ‘successful’

A spokesman for Russia’s defence ministry says the country’s military has achieved the goals it set out for the first day of its invasion of Ukraine.

“All of the tasks assigned to the groups of troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for the day were successfully completed,” Igor Konashenkov said.

Damaged radar arrays and other equipment is seen at a Ukrainian military facility outside of Mariupol
Russian forces have attacked Ukraine by land, air and sea [Sergei Grits/AP]

Russian police detain hundreds at anti-war protests, monitoring group says

Russian police have detained more than 650 people at anti-war protests held in cities throughout the country, protest monitoring group OVD-Info says.

The group said demonstrations had been staged in 40 different locations, including in the capital, Moscow.

G7 leaders promise to hit Russia with severe sanctions

The G7 group of industrialised nations has strongly condemned Russia’s invasion and promised to hit Moscow with severe and coordinated economic sanctions.

“This crisis is a serious threat to the rules-based international order, with ramifications well beyond Europe,” the G7 leaders said in a joint statement released by Germany.

They added Putin had re-introduced war to the European continent and said the Russian president had “put himself on the wrong side of history”.

The G7 is comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US.

Ukrainian ambassador to US says ‘all Ukrainians’ will fight invasion

Ukraine’s ambassador to the US says all of the country’s citizens will resist Russia’s assault.

“Ukraine has activated our right to self-defence in accordance with international law,” Oksana Markarova told reporters at a news conference a press conference at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington.

“The combat spirit of the Ukrainian military is high. We are fighting, we will be fighting – not only our brave and motivated military but all Ukrainians,” she added.

Putin claims he had no choice but to order ‘operation’ against Ukraine

Putin has claimed he had no other option but to order what he described as a “special operation” against Ukraine, arguing all of Moscow’s previous attempts to ensure its security concerns were addressed had come to nothing.

The Russian president made his remarks while addressing the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

Moscow had called for the US-led NATO military alliance to guarantee Ukraine would never be allowed to become a member and cease all military activity in Eastern Europe prior to launching an attack on its neighbour. Washington and NATO flatly rejected those demands.

Russian municipal deputies, journalists and scientists pen open letters opposing invasion

More than 180 municipal deputies from cities across Russia, including Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Samara and Volgograd, among others, have signed an open letter strongly condemning Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

“We are convinced that the citizens of Russia did not give him such a mandate,” the regional officials’ letter says, before warning that the incursion will have “catastrophic consequences”.

“This is an unparalleled atrocity for which there is and cannot be justification,” the letter adds. It also calls on Russians not to “be silent” over the attack, saying “only massive popular condemnation can stop the war”.

In two other open letters, more than 240 journalists and 260 scientists also expressed their opposition to the Kremlin’s move.

Red Cross fears ‘massive casualty numbers’ in Ukraine

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could unleash death and destruction on a scale that is “frightening to contemplate”.

“I fear increased suffering, with the potential of massive casualty numbers and extensive destruction of civilian objects like water and electricity plants, as well as mass displacement, trauma, family separation, and missing persons,” Peter Maurer said in a statement.

“The ICRC has seen many conflicts start and escalate in recent years, but too few of them end, and in each one it is the civilian populations that bear the consequences,” he added.

Ukraine says dozens killed within hours of Russian attack

Dozens of people have been killed during the first hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to local officials.

Oleksii Arestovich, an adviser to Zelenskyy, said that more than 40 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and dozens of others wounded within hours of Moscow launching its attack. He added that up to 10 civilians had also been killed.

Read more here.

‘Dark and frightening night ahead for millions of Ukrainians’

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from the city of Mariupol, in eastern Ukraine, says Russian forces do appear to be specifically “trying to target military positions” with their attacks.

“The Ukrainians are responding – the barrage that they are being subjected to dictates that [they must],” he said.

Stratford added the atmosphere in Mariupol, but also in other parts of Ukraine, was becoming increasingly ominous as nightfall loomed.

“It is getting dark now and we have been told by the authorities here that they will be encouraging people not to use their lights, so it is going to be a very dark and a very frightening night ahead for millions of Ukrainians,” he said.

Smoke is seen rising from a building in Kyiv
Several explosions rocked Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, amid Russia’s attack [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

Russian Twitter users rally behind ‘notowar’ hashtag

Russian-speaking social media users have been voicing their opposition to the invasion of Ukraine, using the hashtag #нетвойне, or #notowar.

It had become the top trending hashtag on Russian Twitter at about 06:00 GMT, shortly after Moscow launched its attack, and by 15:00 GMT had accumulated some 112,000 mentions.

Battle for Chernobyl rages

Ukrainian forces are battling Russian troops intent on capturing the former nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, in northern Ukraine, Zelenskyy says.

Elsewhere, the regional administration in charge of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region said some parts of the territory had been lost to invading forces.

Kyiv mayor imposes curfew on the capital

Kyiv’s mayor has ordered a curfew in the Ukrainian capital in response to Russia’s attack.

Vitali Klitschko’s decision came after footage showed swaths of the city’s residents attempting to flee by car, clogging its main exit points by road.

WHO raises alarm over potential humanitarian catastrophe

The World Health Organization (WHO) has voiced alarm over an expected health emergency in Ukraine.

“Amid the conflict rapidly unfolding in Ukraine, the WHO Regional Office for Europe reiterates its deepest concern for the safety, health and wellbeing of all civilians impacted by the crisis in the country and possibly beyond,” the office said in a statement, warning any further escalation could result in a humanitarian catastrophe.

The European arm of the world health body added it was working closely “with all UN partners in rapidly scaling up readiness to respond to the expected health emergency triggered by the conflict”.

Eastern Ukraine’s Kramatorsk ‘eerily quiet’

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, says the city is “eerily quiet”.

“The streets are nearly empty and none of the businesses are open,” Abdel-Hamid said, adding that the magnitude of Russia’s attack had “sunk in” for local people.

“They are bracing themselves that something will happen here,” she said.

‘Putin is plunging Europe into its darkest time since 1939’, Kyiv says

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Putin of “plunging Europe into its darkest time” since the beginning of the second world war in 1939 and urged Kyiv’s allies to hit Russia with sanctions immediately.

“Any government hoping to sit this out is naïve. Don’t repeat mistakes of the past,” he tweeted. “Hit Russia with severe sanctions now. Help Ukraine with military and financial support. Together we can #StopRussianAggression.”

How is the Ukraine invasion being viewed in Russia?

Pro-government media outlets are echoing Putin’s line, but criticism of Moscow’s actions is growing, with prominent public figures voicing their discontent.

Read more here.

UK PM says Western powers will impose ‘massive sanctions’ on Russia

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has branded Putin a “dictator” and warned Moscow will now face “massive” Western sanctions for invading Ukraine.

“We cannot and will not just look away,” Johnson said in a televised address to the nation, delivered after he held talks by phone with Zelenskyy.

He added that Western powers will move to roll out a “massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy”.

“And to that end, we must also collectively cease the dependence on Russian oil and gas that for too long has given Putin his grip on Western politics,” Johnson said.

Russia anti-war activist says she has been detained

A Russian opposition activist who called for anti-war protests says she has been detained by police.

“I was detained on my way out of the house,” Marina Litvinovich, the Moscow-based activist, wrote on Telegram.

Litvinovich had earlier called on Russians to gather in protest in various cities throughout the country on Thursday evening.

Russia says it has destroyed 74 military facilities: Report

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have destroyed 74 above-ground military infrastructure facilities in Ukraine on Thursday, including 11 aerodromes, according to a report by the country’s RIA Novosti news agency.

Attacks taking place nationwide, Ukrainian police force says

Ukraine’s national police force says attacks are taking place throughout the country.

The authorities said they had logged 203 incidents since the beginning of the day, when Moscow launched its incursion.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s defence minister said some Russian forces had been taken prisoner in instances of heavy fighting.

French president says invasion marks ‘turning point in the history of Europe’

President Emmanuel Macron has said France will stand by Ukraine’s side and warned that Russia’s invasion will have durable and “deep” consequences for the continent of Europe.

“We will respond without weakness to this act of war, with calm, determination and unity,” Macron said in an address to the French nation.

He added that the events were a “turning point in the history of Europe and our country” that would have “deep and lasting consequences for our lives”.

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he speaks during a media conference
Macron had tried to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow in recent weeks in a bid to avert war [File: Tobias Schwarz/Pool Photo via AP]

Panic, fear and stoicism in Ukraine as Russia invades

Russia’s invasion has triggered panic and fear among many Ukrainian civilians as they scramble to flee or face down the escalation in violence.

Many also remained stoic, however, even as missiles fell on multiple cities and Russian forces attacked from land and sea.

Read more here.

Ukraine’s Klitschko pleads for international assistance

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko, whose brother Vitali is the mayor of Kyiv, has told Al Jazeera that the Russian invasion is “terrifying” and called on the world to help “stop the killing of Ukrainians”.

Russia can not be cut off behind an ‘iron curtain’, Kremlin spokesman says

The Kremlin says Russia can not be shut off behind an iron curtain and that it needs Ukraine to become a neutral country where offensive weapons were not deployed.

“It’s simply impossible to cut off a country like Russia with an iron curtain,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked to assess the risk of Russia being diplomatically and economically isolated due to its actions in Ukraine.

Russian forces trying to penetrate Kyiv region, border officials say

Russian forces are trying to penetrate into Ukraine’s Kyiv region and its Zhytomyr region on the Belarusian border, Ukrainian border officials say.

The officials said Russia was using Grad rocket systems as part of its assault, and claimed that Russian helicopters had attacked a military airport near Kyiv.

Ukrainian forces shot down three of the helicopters involved in the attack on the facility, the officials added.

UN’s high commissioner for refugees urges countries to give fleeing Ukrainians safe haven

The UN’s high commissioner for refugees has warned that the situation in Ukraine is quickly deteriorating and appealed to neighbouring countries to keep their borders open to people seeking a safe haven.

“We have already seen reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety,” Filippo Grandi said in a statement.

He added the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) had stepped up its operations and was working with Ukrainian authorities to provide greater humanitarian assistance.

Grandi said the agency was also working with other governments in the region and called on them “to keep borders open to those seeking safety and protection”.

NATO has no plans to send troops into Ukraine, Stoltenberg says

NATO has no troops inside Ukraine and has no plans to send any into the country, the organisation’s secretary-general says.

“There are no NATO combat troops, no NATO troops at all inside Ukraine. We have made it clear that we don’t have any plans and intention of deploying NATO troops to Ukraine,” Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

“What we have made clear is that we have already increased and we are increasing the presence of NATO troops in the eastern part of the alliance on NATO territory,” he added.

Ukraine is a partner of the Western defence alliance but not a full NATO member.

INTERACTIVE- NATO members in Europe expand eastwards

Navalny condemns Ukraine invasion

Putin’s most prominent domestic critic, Alexey Navalny, has spoken out against Russia’s invasion during a court hearing.

“The war with Ukraine has been unleashed to cover up the robbery of Russian citizens and divert their attention away from the country’s internal problems, from the degradation of its economy,” he said. “I am against this war.”

Navalny is currently serving a prison sentence for alleged parole violations that could be extended by more than a decade if he is convicted of fresh charges including fraud and contempt of court.

His allies have claimed that his latest trial – which opened last week – has been purposefully timed to coincide with the Ukraine crisis.

Russian regulator issues strict guidelines for reporting on eastern Ukraine

Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor has warned media outlets they must check the veracity of their reports about the situation in eastern Ukraine and only publish information from official Russian sources.

Roskomnadzor said the distribution of false information online would lead to immediate restrictions.

“We emphasise that it is namely Russian official information sources that hold and disseminate reliable and up-to-date information,” Roskomnadzor said.

Erdogan slams Russia’s attack as a ‘heavy blow’ to peace

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “heavy blow” to regional peace and called for a resolution of the crisis through dialogue.

“We reject Russia’s military operation,” Erdogan said in a televised speech. “This step, which we view as against international law, is a heavy blow struck on regional peace, harmony and stability.”

The Turkish leader added he had conveyed Ankara’s support to Zelenskyy in a phone call between the pair.

Ukraine says Russia is carrying out ‘full-scale attack’

Ukraine’s foreign minister says Russia is carrying out a full-scale offensive from multiple directions and that Ukrainian forces are resisting the attack.

“No, this is not a Russian invasion only in the east of Ukraine, but a full-scale attack from multiple directions,” Kuleba said on Twitter.

“Ukraine stands with both feet on the ground & continues to defend itself,” he added.

‘Left no other option’: Excerpts of Putin’s speech declaring war

Al Jazeera has translated some of Putin’s early morning address to the Russian nation, in which he announced Moscow was launching what he called a “special military operation” against Ukraine.

Read more here.

Iran says Ukraine crisis rooted in ‘provocative moves’ by NATO

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine is rooted in “provocative moves” by NATO.

However, he added Tehran did not “see resorting to war as a solution” and called in a post on Twitter for a “political and diplomatic solution” to the crisis.

Amirabdollahian also said he had held a phone call with officials at Iran’s embassy in Kyiv to discuss how they might coordinate the evacuation of Iranian citizens from Ukraine.

Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement that Tehran is working to secure a flight to evacuate citizens and called on them to move away from “crisis points”.

After ‘bridge to Europe’ bid, Ukraine’s China ties face test

Beijing’s reluctance to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine indicates China will attempt to maintain its delicate balancing act over the crisis.

Read more here.

Zelenskyy holds phone conversation with Qatari emir

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has received a phone call from Zelenskyy, who briefed him on the latest developments, his office has said in a statement.

Sheikh Tamim called on all parties to exercise restraint and resolve the criss through diplomatic means, the statement added. The Qatari emir also called for the protection of civilians

INTERACTIVE- Ukraine Russia head-to-head

NATO moves to reinforce its eastern flank

NATO member states have agreed to bolster land, sea and air forces on the military alliance’s eastern flank.

“We are deploying additional defensive land and air forces to the eastern part of the alliance, as well as additional maritime assets,” NATO ambassadors said in a statement after emergency talks.

“We have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies,” the statement added.

Separatist leader says evacuation of residents to Russia suspended: Report

Denis Pushilin, the Moscow-backed leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine, says the evacuation of the territory’s residents to Russia has been suspended, according to a report by the Interfax news agency.

Russia moved to recognise the DPR and another breakaway territory, the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), as independent prior to launching its invasion into Ukraine.

Mayor of Mariupol says three civilians killed

The mayor of Mariupol has claimed that three of the eastern Ukrainian city’s civilians have been killed and six others injured amid Russia’s invasion.

Vadym Boychenko told a news conference that Russian forces had attacked the city’s airport and a village nearby.

“Don’t panic. We are ready to fight for Mariupol and Ukraine,” he said.

Zelenskyy adviser says 40 Ukrainians killed

An adviser to Ukraine’s president says about 40 people have been killed so far amid Russia’s invasion.

Oleksii Arestovich, Zelenskyy’s aide, also said that several dozen people have been wounded. He did not specify whether the casualties included civilians.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the figures.

Putin ally says Ukraine’s demilitarisation only way to prevent war in Europe

The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, has said that the only way to prevent war in Europe is for Ukraine to be “demilitarised”, RIA Novosti reports.

Volodin is a close ally of Putin.

No scope for diplomacy with Russia ‘at this stage’

Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays, reporting from Vienna, says Western leaders see no scope for “talking to the Russians at this stage”.

“The only diplomacy going on is diplomatic meetings aimed at formulating a response to what Putin has done – that is what the centre of attention is going to be in the coming hours,” he said.

Ukraine breaks diplomatic ties with Russia

Zelenskyy has broken off Kyiv’s diplomatic relations with Moscow in response to Russia’s invasion.

The Ukrainian president’s move marked the first rupture in ties since Russia and Ukraine became independent countries after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.

OSCE says monitoring mission in Ukraine implementing contingency plans

The secretary-general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says the security body’s Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, which has hundreds of observers in the east of the country, is adapting after Russia’s military offensive.

“The mission’s well-developed contingency plans are being put in action,” Helga Schmid said in a speech to the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly, without providing details.

“The safety and security of our personnel is our utmost priority,” she added.

Russian invasion is a ‘catastrophe’ for Europe, UK PM says

The UK’s prime minister has said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a “catastrophe” for Europe and called for an urgent NATO meeting over the crisis.

“This is a catastrophe for our continent,” Johnson said on Twitter, adding he would make a national address on the developments later on Thursday morning.

“I will also speak to fellow G7 leaders and I am calling for an urgent meeting of all NATO leaders as soon as possible,” he added.

Ukraine’s president calls on citizens to fight

Zelenskyy has called on all Ukrainian citizens who are ready to defend the country from Russian forces to come forward, saying Kyiv will issue weapons to everyone who wants them.

The Ukrainian president also urged Russians to protest against Moscow’s move.

Finland is ready to receive refugees from Ukraine, PM says

Finland is prepared to receive refugees from Ukraine, the country’s prime minister has said.

“[Finland’s] ministry of interior for its part is preparing to receive refugees from Ukraine,” Sanna Marin told reporters.

Both Marin and Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto have strongly condemned Russia’s attack.

“Despite prior warnings this morning has come as a shock for all of us and our deepest feelings are with Ukrainian people,” Niinisto said.

Russian attack causes panic in Kyiv as people flee

The sound of explosions on the edge of Ukraine’s capital and air sirens set off by a full-scale Russian invasion of the country have prompted panic in the city, leading some of its residents to try and flee.

Read more here.

A traffic jam is seen in Kyiv
Long queues of cars are forming along exit roads from Kyiv as residents bid to flee the city following Russia’s invasion [Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA]

Lithuanian parliament to consider state of emergency declaration

The Lithuanian parliament will decide whether to declare a state of emergency later on Thursday following Russia’s moves in Ukraine, President Gitanas Nauseda says.

The Baltic state, a former Soviet republic that is now part of NATO and the European Union, will also propose that further sanctions should be imposed on Belarus over its alleged role in the invasion.

What’s next for global energy prices?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spells higher energy prices worldwide amid fears of supply disruptions.

Read more here.

Sanctions not enough to stop Russia: Analyst

Fabrice Pothier, chief strategy officer at consultancy firm Rasmussen Global and a former director of policy planning at NATO, says Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine is “not surprising”.

“Putin … wants to rebuild Russia’s empire,” Pothier told Al Jazeera.

“And while the US and EU sanctions packages sound impressive, and there is indeed a lot of unity and coordinated talks [among Kyiv’s allies], the bottom line is that this is not enough to stop Putin from following his twisted vision,” he added.

“NATO is not willing to put any soldiers on Ukrainian soil and Putin knows this very well and therefore he can go all the way forward to Kyiv.”

Dozens of Russian forces killed, Ukraine says

Ukraine’s military says about 50 Russian forces have been killed and six warplanes destroyed amid fighting in the country’s east.

Watch the moment Putin announced Russia’s Ukraine incursion

Here’s the moment Russia’s president announced Moscow’s decision to invade Ukraine, a move he referred to as “a military operation” in the country’s eastern Donbas region.

Belarusian forces not taking part in invasion, Lukashenko claims

President Alexander Lukashenko has claimed that Belarusian troops are not taking part in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a report by the country’s Belta state news agency.

“Our troops are taking no part in this operation,” Lukashenko, who is a close ally of Putin, was quoted as saying.

Ukraine’s border guard service said earlier that Russian troops had attacked Ukraine from Belarus – where they had been staging joint large-scale military exercises with Belarusian forces – as well as from Russia itself with Belarusian support.

Ukraine asks Turkey to shut Black Sea waterways to Russian warships

Ukraine has asked Turkey to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian warships, Kyiv’s ambassador to Ankara says.

“We are calling for the air space, Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to be closed. We have conveyed our relevant demand to the Turkish side. At the same time, we want sanctions imposed on the Russian side,” Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar told a news conference in the Turkish capital.

The request puts NATO member Turkey, which shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has good relations with both countries, in a difficult position. Under a 1936 pact, Ankara has control over the straits and can limit warship passages during wartime or if threatened.

Russian opposition activist calls for anti-war protests

A Russian opposition activist has called for anti-war protests in Russian cities later on Thursday.

“We will be cleaning up this mess for years to come. Not even us. But our children and grandchildren,” Litvinovich wrote on Facebook.

“All we see is the agony of a dying man. Alas, Russia is in agony.”

INTERACTIVE- Russia Ukraine Conflict at a glance FEB 24

Timeline: Putin attacks Ukraine – how it happened

Russia’s attack on Ukraine started in the early hours of this morning.

Click here for a timeline documenting how the invasion began, and has developed since.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: What we know so far

Al Jazeera has put together a 500-word explainer on the background to Russia’s invasion and what has happened so far.

Click here to read it.

Russia claims air raids not targeting Ukraine’s cities, pose no civilian threat: Report

Russia’s defence ministry has claimed its air raids on Ukraine are not targeting the country’s cities and pose no threat to civilians, RIA Novosti reports.

Ukraine said earlier that at least eight people had been killed and nine others wounded by Russian shelling.

EU to impose ‘harshest sanctions ever’ on Russia

The EU will slap the harshest package of sanctions ever implemented on Russia for attacking Ukraine, the bloc’s foreign policy chief has said.

“The European Union will respond in the strongest possible ways … [EU leaders] will adopt a stronger package, the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented,” Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels.

Russia suspends shipping in the Azov sea: Report

Russia has suspended the movement of commercial vessels in the Azov sea until further notice, Interfax has quoted the state agency for maritime and river transport as saying.

Ukraine and Russia both have ports on the Sea of Azov, including Ukraine’s major port of Mariupol, while Russia controls the sea’s mouth at the Kerch Strait.

Timeline: After months of tensions, Russia attacks Ukraine

For a timeline documenting the build-up to Russia’s invasion, click here.

‘Everybody was panicking’

Sara Cincurova, a freelance reporter, says she was on a train headed for Kramatorsk when news of Russia’s invasion broke.

“Everybody was panicking … there was an old man asking what was going on and the train attendant told him ‘the war has just begun’,” Cincurova told Al Jazeera.

“There was another passenger, an old lady whose son is in the army, who started crying. Other people were wishing each other good luck … and there was a big discussion about whether we should all get off in the next village,” she added.

“Some people decided to head east to meet with their families, but others got off.”

‘The war is a big disaster’: Zelenskyy’s address in full

As Russia prepared to attack Ukraine, the country’s president made an emotional address to his nation.

Click here to read Zelenskyy’s address in full.

Queues at cash machines, petrol stations in Mariupol

Al Jazeera’s Liz Cookman is in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine. She says there are large queues at cash machines and petrol stations as people fear electricity and internet outages.

But despite air raid sirens sounding throughout the city, packed buses were still carrying people to work and school.

A queue is seen at a petrol station in Mariupol
A queue forms at a petrol station in Mariupol [Liz Cookman/Al Jazeera]

Photos from Ukraine

Click here for images from Ukraine as Russia’s attack unfolds.

Explosions rock eastern Ukraine’s Kramatorsk

Al Jazeera’s Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Kramatorsk, says several loud explosions rocked the city early this morning.

“I think … what has been targeted is the military base that is just on the edge of the city,” she said. “The Russians are trying to diminish the capability of the Ukrainian army as much as possible.”

World reaction to Ukraine invasion

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has been swiftly condemned by several nations.

Read more here.

INTERACTIVE: Loud-explosions-heard-across-Kyiv-Ukraine

Russia says it has taken out infrastructure at Ukraine air bases: Reports

Russia’s defence ministry says it has attacked military infrastructure at Ukrainian air bases and degraded Ukraine’s air defences, according to reports by Russian news agencies.

The ministry denied reports that one of its aircraft had been shot down over Ukraine. Ukraine’s military said earlier that five Russian planes and one helicopter had been downed in the country’s eastern Luhansk region.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the claims made by both sides.

Air raid sirens blaring throughout Kyiv

Al Jazeera Andrew Simmons, reporting from Kyiv, says air raid sirens have been blaring throughout the city.

“It would appear that military installations have been the target [of the attack] – there have been missiles attacks and the number of casualties and level of damage is unclear at the moment,” Simmons said.

“But the whole sky was awash with red and orange when these missiles struck – some of which were apparently cruise missiles. And the main international airport did come under attack – it is not clear what the damage is there, but all air space is closed,” he added.

Zelenskyy declares martial law, says Ukraine will ‘win’

Ukraine’s president has made a brief national address to declare martial law throughout the country.

“Dear Ukrainian citizens, this morning President Putin announced a special military operation in Donbas. Russia conducted strikes on our military infrastructure and our border guards. There were blasts heard in many cities of Ukraine. We’re introducing martial law on the whole territory of our country,” Zelenskyy said in a video address.

He added he had spoken with Biden, and that Washington was moving to unite “international support” for Kyiv.

“Today each of you should keep calm. Stay at home if you can. We are working. The army is working. The whole sector of defence and security is working,” Zelenskyy said. “No panic. We are strong. We are ready for everything. We will win over everybody because we are Ukraine.”

Ukraine says troops attacked from Russia and Belarus

Russian troops attacked Ukraine from Belarus as well as Russia itself, with Belarusian support, at about 5 am local time (07:00 GMT), Ukraine’s border guard service says.

The agency said an attack had also been launched from Crimea, which Russia annexed from Crimea in 2014.

Russian military ‘tight-lipped’ on Ukraine attack

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Moscow, says the Russian military is being “very tight-lipped on what is happening on the ground with Ukraine”.

“We are hearing reports of the Russian military going in from various sides of Ukraine – from the east, from the west and now allegedly from the north in Belarus,” Jabbari said.

“It is clear now that this is not just a small military operation in the eastern region of Donbas as the president [Putin] had said,” she added.

“Many residents in Moscow yesterday were commemorating their version of Remembrance day. They said they could not possibly fathom the idea of going to war with Ukraine. [They said] Ukraine is their neighbour, is part of their family, they are brother and sisters and there is really no justification for launching a full-scale attack on Ukraine.”

Intensive shelling in Ukraine’s east, minister says

Ukraine’s defence minister has said that Ukrainian units, military control centres and airfields in the country’s east are under intensive Russian shelling.

His update came as the military said that Ukraine’s air force was trying to repel a Russian air attack.

Russia’s move could ‘change dynamics in Russia’, analyst says

Chris Weafer, Macro-Advisory CEO, said that Russia’s move could pose a risk for Putin’s domestic consensus.

“What Putin has done is not just risky in terms of geopolitics and in terms of western reaction, but it is also in terms of domestic politics,” Weafer said, pointing out that a growing active part of the population will not easily accept the consequences for them that will now come from Russia’s invasion.

“We are already seeing a weak ruble at the early opening this morning that will have consequences in terms of inflation and lifestyle,” he added, noting that sanctions could affect people’s ability to use bank cards, to withdraw money from ATMs and to travel.

“All of these are potential consequences and if that happens there will be a domestic public reaction. Not immediately, but it will start to change dynamics in Russia.”

Russia says targeting Ukraine military facilities with ‘precision’ weapons

The Russian defence ministry has said it is targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure with precision weapons.

“Military infrastructure, air defense facilities, military airfields, and aviation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are being disabled with high-precision weapons,” the ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

EU chief promises to hold Kremlin ‘accountable’ for ‘unjustified’ Ukraine attack

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen has denounced Russia’s attack and promised to hold Moscow “accountable”.

“We strongly condemn Russia’s unjustified attack on Ukraine. In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” she wrote on Twitter.

“We will hold the Kremlin accountable.”

Biden speaks with Ukraine’s Zelenskyy, White House says

Biden spoke with Zelenskyy soon after Russia launched an attack on Ukraine, the White House has said.

Biden “just spoke with Zelensky,” a spokesman for his office said, adding that details would be issued later.

Russia-Ukraine crisis
A military vehicle is seen on a street on the outskirts of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Moscow’s UN envoy says Russia targeting ‘junta in power in Kyiv’

Russia’s ambassador to the UN has told an emergency UN Securtiy Council (UNSC) meeting that Moscow’s military operation against Ukraine was targeting “the junta” in power in Kiyv.

“I wanted to say in conclusion that we aren’t being aggressive against the Ukrainian people but against the junta that is in power in Kiyv,” said Vassily Nebenzia.

UN chief urges Russia to cease military operations in Ukraine

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Russia to end the attack on Ukraine.

“President Putin, in the name of humanity bring your troops back to Russia,” the secretary-general said.

“In the name of humanity do not allow to start in Europe what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century,” he said, adding the conflict “must stop now”.

Russia has launched full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv says

Russia has launched a “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine and is targeting cities with weapons strikes, Ukraine’s foreign minister says.

“Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes,” Kuleba tweeted. “This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”

Loud explosions heard in Kyiv: Al Jazeera correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Simmons, reporting from Kyiv, says at least seven “loud explosions” have been heard in Ukraine’s capital.

“It sounds like shell fire, but it could be air strikes,” Simmons said.

“Boryspil international airport came under attack … we’re not sure whether it was shelled or whether it’s an explosion,” he added. “We’ve heard sirens as well, so there’s definitely a full attack happening on the capital.”

NATO chief condemns Russia ‘attack’

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has condemned Russia’s “reckless and unprovoked attack” on Ukraine.

He said the military alliances member states will meet to address Russia’s latest move, adding: “We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time.”

“NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend allies,” he added.

INTERACTIVE- NATO history and expansion

Ukraine urges UN ‘to do everything possible to stop the war’

Ukraine’s UN envoy has urged the world body’s Security Council to “stop the war”.

“I would like to ask the ambassador of the Russian delegation to say on the record that this very moment your troops do not shell and bomb Ukrainian cities, that your troops do not move in the territory of Ukraine,” Sergiy Kyslytsya said.

In response, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, said the attack was not a “war”. He claimed Moscow had launched a “military operation in the Donbas”.

Biden denounces ‘unprovoked and unjustified’ attack

The US president has denounced Moscow’s “unprovoked and unjustified” attack on Ukraine, pledging the world will “hold Russia accountable”.

Biden said Russia alone is responsible for the “catastrophic loss of life and human suffering” to come, adding that he will address the nation on Thursday on ‘consequences’ for Russia.

Gunfire heard near Kyiv’s main airport: Report

Gunfire was heard near the main airport of Boryspil in Kyiv soon after Russia announced a military operation in Ukraine, Interfax has reported, citing local media.

Putin says Russia will conduct a military operation in eastern Ukraine

Putin has said Russia will conduct a “military operation” in Donbas and called on Ukraine’s military to lay down its arms.

“I have made the decision of a military operation,” he said in a surprise statement on television shortly before 6 am local time in Moscow (03:00 GMT).

Putin claimed the action comes in response to threats coming from Ukraine. He added that Russia does not have a goal to occupy Ukraine. Putin said the responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian “regime”.

He also warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen.”

US tells UN a ‘full-scale’ invasion of Ukraine is imminent

The US believes a “full-scale” further invasion of Ukraine by Russia is imminent, Washington’s ambassador to the UN has warned, saying this is a “perilous” moment.

“Tonight we’re seeing the Russians close airspace, move troops into Donbas, and move forces into combat-ready positions,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

INTERACTIVE- Where are Russian troops stationed?

UN chief tells Putin: ‘Stop your troops from attacking Ukraine’

Guterres has made a personal appeal to Putin to stop his troops from entering Ukraine at an emergency UNSC meeting.

“President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine, give peace a chance, too many people have already died.”

Russia ally Cuba slams US over Ukraine crisis, urges diplomacy

Cuba, a close ally of Russia, has sharply criticised the US for imposing “the progressive expansion of NATO towards the borders of the Russian Federation” and called for a diplomatic solution to preserve international peace.

“The US government has been threatening Russia for weeks and manipulating the international community about the dangers of an ‘imminent massive invasion’ of Ukraine,” a Cuban statement said. “It has supplied weapons and military technology, deployed troops to several countries in the region, applied unilateral and unjust sanctions, and threatened other reprisals.”

The statement said “constructive and respectful dialogue” was necessary to resolve the Ukraine crisis.

Cyberattacks are about ‘undermining confidence in government’: Analyst

Cyberattacks are “about perception” and about “undermining confidence in the government,” Patrick Howell O’Neill, cybersecurity senior editor for MIT Technology Review, has said.

“At a moment like this, that’s pretty important,” O’Neill told Al Jazeera.

“Right now, we haven’t seen anything that would be dangerous to anyone’s lives or anyone’s physical wellbeing,” he said, referring to reports of a fresh cyber attack against Ukraine.

“Historically, especially in Ukraine, the way that Russian intelligence hackers have behaved, the things that they’ve done, are unlike anything any other country has every carried out,” O’Neill said.

A man is seen holding a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him
Ukraine has suffered a string of cyberattacks in recent weeks that Kyiv has blamed on Russia [File: Kacper Pempel/Reuters]

Dnipro, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia airports in Ukraine closed until Thursday morning

Airports at Dnipro, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine are closed to traffic until Thursday morning, according to notices issued by local authorities.

No reason was provided for the closures, which are due to end between 05:00 and 06:35 GMT, depending on the airport.

Airlines should stop flying over all of Ukraine’s airspace – conflict zone monitor

Airlines should stop flying over any part of Ukraine because of the risk of an unintended shootdown or a cyberattack targeting air traffic control amid tensions with Russia, a conflict zone monitor has said.

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.”

Russia partially shuts airspace near border with Ukraine

Russia has partially closed airspace in the Rostov flight information region to the east of its border with Ukraine “in order to provide safety” for civil aviation flights, according to a notice issued by authorities.

The notice lists specific route segments and altitudes to be avoided.

INTERACTIVE- Why do planes avoid Ukraine airspace

Blinken believes Russia will invade Ukraine before night is out

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told NBC News that he expected Russia to invade Ukraine before the night was over but still sees a chance to “avert a major aggression”.

“Everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine,” Blinken told US broadcaster NBC, adding he could not be precise about time or place.

G7 leaders to hold virtual meeting on Thursday

The Group of Seven (G7) world leaders will hold a virtual meeting on Thursday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, the White House has said.

UNSC to meet Wednesday night on Ukraine, diplomats say

The UNSC will convene for its second emergency session in three days over the crisis, “due to military developments” on the ground, diplomatic sources have said.

The meeting, which was requested by Kyiv, is scheduled for 9:30 pm local time in New York (02:30 GMT Thursday), the sources said.

EU sanctions Russian defence minister, military chiefs

The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu and military chiefs as part of a package of measures over the Kremlin’s recognition of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent.

The 27-nation bloc slapped asset freezes and visa bans on high-ranking figures including the commanders of Russia’s army, navy and air force, the Kremlin’s chief of staff, the head of state-run television channel RT and the foreign ministry’s spokeswoman, according to the EU’s official journal.

France’s Macron reiterates support for Ukraine’s sovereignty

French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity after a call with Zelenskyy, the Elysee Palace has said.

“[Macron] also praised the Ukrainian President’s composure in the current situation,” the French president’s office said in a statement.

Support that the EU can provide to Ukraine will be on the agenda of the meeting of the European Council on Thursday, the Elysee Palace added.

Ukraine president says nearly 200,000 Russian troops on border

Zelenskyy says Russia has massed nearly 200,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders.

On the Ukrainian border “nearly 200,000 soldiers are stationed, [as are] thousands of combat vehicles,” he said, adding that a “major war in Europe” could be started by Moscow soon.

Zelenskyy says Russia has approved an offensive against Ukraine

Zelenskyy has said Russia has approved an offensive against Ukraine and accused Putin of not replying to his invitation to hold talks.

“I initiated a telephone call with the president of the Russian Federation. Result: silence,” he said.

“The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace. But if we come under attack that threaten our freedom and lives of our people we will fight back.”

Zelenskyy made the remarks in a 10-minute address posted on Telegram during which he spoke in both Ukrainian and Russian.

INTERACTIVE- Possible Russian invasion routes

Australia flags potential cyberattacks after Russia sanctions

Australia must prepare itself for likely cyberattacks from Russia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said.

“Cyberattacks are a real threat, and they’re a present threat and that is the most likely response from Russia in terms of what we’ve done,” Morrison told Australian broadcaster Channel Nine when asked if he expected any retaliation from Russia over sanctions imposed on Moscow by Canberra.

He urged Australian businesses to bolster their cyber-defences. They may not get hit directly but there could be “collateral cyber-impacts” from computer viruses when deployed that can “take on a course of their own,” Morrison said.

France urges citizens to leave Ukraine ‘without delay’

France has become the latest Western nation to call on its citizens to leave Ukraine “without delay”.

“In the context of serious tensions caused by the concentration of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders” as well as Russia’s recognition of two separatist regions and Ukraine’s imposition of a state of emergency, “French citizens finding themselves in Ukraine should leave the country without delay,” France’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Ukraine requests urgent UN Security Council meeting

Kuleba says he has demanded an urgent meeting of the UNSC regarding Russian-backed separatists’ appeal to Russia for military assistance.

“Ukraine has requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council due to the appeal by Russian occupation administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk to Russia with a request to provide them with military assistance, which is a further escalation of the security situation,” the Ukrainian foreign minister tweeted.

Images show new deployments in western Russia near Ukraine border

Satellite imagery showed a number of new deployments in western Russia, many of them within 16km (10 miles) of the border with Ukraine and less than 80km (50 miles) from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, a private US company has said.

The images showed field deployment, military convoys, artillery and armoured personnel carriers with support equipment and troops. The images released by Maxar Technologies, which has been tracking the buildup of Russian forces for weeks, could not be independently verified by Al Jazeera.

Putin ‘tightening the screws on Ukraine’: Correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Moscow, says Putin is “continuing to tighten the screws on Ukraine”.

“He [Putin] says the two states that they have now recognised [the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics] are being recognised on embassy levels and Russia says it is also evacuating its diplomatic staff from Ukraine to protect their lives,” Smith said.

“Putin has also praised the battle-readiness of Russian troops,” he added.

White House says it is in contact with Ukraine over cybersecurity

Biden’s administration is in touch with Ukrainian authorities over their cybersecurity needs, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki says.

The websites of Ukraine’s government, foreign ministry and state security service were down on Wednesday in what the government said was the start of another massive denial of service attack.

“We are in conversations with Ukraine regarding their cyber-related needs including as recently as today and we’re going to move with urgency to assess the nature and extent of this, what steps need to be taken, and therefore a response,” Psaki said.

Kremlin says Ukraine rebels have asked Russia for ‘help’ against Kyiv

The Kremlin has said the heads of east Ukraine’s rebel republics have asked Putin for “help” to “repel aggression” from the Ukrainian army.

In a statement carried by Russian state news agencies, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the separatist republics have petitioned Moscow “for help in repelling the aggression of the armed forces in Ukraine”.

White House says Putin is adapting, improvising after sanctions

Putin is improvising and having to adapt his Ukraine strategy following sanctions imposed by the West this week, Psaki has said.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Tuesday, February 23, here.

INTERACTIVE- Russia and Ukraine at a quick glance

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies