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Shortly after 4.30am in Ukraine, before the sun was even up, residents were being woken by the sounds of explosions and sirens.
Claiming his goal was the demilitarisation and 'denazification' of Ukraine, the Russian president announced a 'special military operation' that saw troops cross the borders, tanks roll down city streets and helicopters fly overhead.
Claims that Russian forces had taken control of Antonov international airport, located roughly 15 miles from the capital of Kyiv also emerged, after CNN's Matthew Chance said the airport was overrun by Russian troops, identified with orange and black bands on their arms, after a fire fight between forces.
By around midday in Ukraine, the national police service said more than 200 attacks had taken place across the country.
Just a few hours later, Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian troops were trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in a 'declaration of war against the whole of Europe'.
The defence ministry in Russia claims to have destroyed 74 of Ukraine's military facilities on the ground, including 11 airfields and 18 radar stations, The Guardian reports.
Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the #Chornobyl_NPP. Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated. Reported this to @SwedishPM. This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 24, 2022
In his statement, Putin warned any interference from outside powers would see an 'instant' response.
World leaders, however, were quick to condemn the Russian president's actions.
'President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable,' US president Joe Biden said.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson said: 'We are joined in our outrage by friends and allies around the world. We will work with them, for however long it takes, to ensure that the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine is restored.
'Because this act of wanton and reckless aggression is an attack not just on Ukraine. It is an attack on democracy and freedom in eastern Europe and around the world.'
French president Emmanuel Macron said: 'The events of last night mark a turning point in the history of Europe. We will respond to this act of war without weakness, with cold blood, determination and unity.'
I strongly condemn #Russia’s reckless attack on #Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives. This is a grave breach of international law & a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security. #NATO Allies will meet to address Russia’s renewed aggression. https://t.co/FPpyuzmUXD— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) February 24, 2022
In response, a number of countries are imposing severe sanctions on Putin and Russia.
The UK and US are imposing a full asset freeze on Russia's VTB bank and will be implementing stringent export controls. 'These powers will enable us to totally exclude Russian banks from the UK financial system... stopping them from accessing Sterling and clearing payments through the UK,' Boris Johnson said.
The sanctions will also be applied to Belarus for its role in today's invasion.
Since the full scale invasion, described as an act of war, political and military defensive alliance NATO has vowed to strengthen its land, sea and air forces across eastern Europe.
We can confirm the following developments in Ukraine: pic.twitter.com/5cDzA0qxID— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) February 24, 2022
'Russia’s actions pose a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security, and they will have geostrategic consequences. NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the security and defence of all Allies. We are deploying additional defensive land and air forces to the eastern part of the Alliance, as well as additional maritime assets. We have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies,' NATO said.
G7, meanwhile, said Putin has 're-introduced war to the European continent'.
In Ukraine, martial law has been declared, and it has cut all diplomatic ties with Russia.
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Featured Image Credit: AP
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