Did Russia declare war on Ukraine? Where are the explosions in Ukraine?
In the early hours of this morning the Russian president announced a military campaign in eastern Ukraine, marking the beginning of war in Europe.
Aftre months of build up, Russia has taken the dangerous step of invading Ukraine. Tensions have been rising since 2021 and this new escalation could prove to be one of the most dangerous situations in European foreign policy since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.
What happened on Thursday morning?
In a speech at 05:55 Moscow time, President Putin announced a 'military operation' in the two seperatist Ukrainian states of Donetsk and Luhansk. Ostensibly, he claimed this was to demilitarize and 'de-nazify' Ukraine. Russia has accused Ukraine of genocide against ethnic Russians, but has provided no evidence for the claims and their is little support for this view amongst other nations.
Immediately, missile and bomb attacks struck targets in Kiev and other major cities. Russian armoured columns have been pictured crossing the border at points in the Crimea, Russia and Belarus, Ukraine's northern neighbour.
Reports suggest large scale ground combat has yet to begin, prompting fears of Ukraine being unprepared for an assault. A BBC correspondent said the 'scale and size of the assault has taken Ukraine by surprise' adding that the surpise has come from the 'swiftness and blatentness' of the Russian invasion.
Deaths have been reported by Ukrainian authorities.
What has the reaction been?
Ukraine declared martial law this morning, permitting emergency measures to combat the advance. President Zelensky, who has consistently presented a clam reaction to proceedings in the last month, showed the first signs of desperation as he announced any Ukrainian who wished to defend their homeland would be given weapons and ammunition by the state. On Wednesday, reservists between the age of 18 and 60 were told to report to their local barracks to prepare for fighting.
Ukrainian people have been fleeing westwards towards Lviv and Poland. Huge traffic jams have prevented many from being able to leave the capital, Kiev.
There has been near universal condemnation from countries around the world.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg condemned Russia's 'reckless attack' adding it 'puts at risk countless civilian lives'.
Europe was 'facing its darkest hours since World War Two', EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was 'appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine' and that President Putin, 'has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack.'