Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine in the early morning hours on Thursday. The full-scale invasion began hours before the sun came up, quickly spreading across the central and eastern portions of Ukraine with attacks coming from three sides.
Air Raid Sirens Wail in Kyiv
The first assault was reported at about 5 am local time Thursday. The invasion included a series of missile attacks that came shockingly close to the Ukraine capital of Kyiv. The Russians also employed the use of long-range artillery when striking the city of Kharkiv.Read More »
Elsewhere in Ukraine
A train is scheduled to transport 40 vulnerable children out of eastern Ukraine on Friday. The train will leave the Luhansk oblast region with children ages four and under bound for Lviv. A second train is already on its way from Donetsk oblast with over 100 children with a third train carrying 18 kids with special needs and disabilities leaving from Lysychansk.
Russian troops have reportedly taken control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the northern part of Ukraine. This control was one of the biggest concerns heading into the invasion.
Russian airborne troops have also seized control of the Antonov Airport, located approximately 25 miles from the city center of Kyiv.
Hundreds Arrested in Moscow
At least 850 people have been detained in Russia after protesting the war. While Russian law allows for individual protests, the country does not condone large-scale demonstrations without a permit.
Earlier on Thursday, Russian government leaders warned its citizens that participating in anti-war protests could result in arrests, prosecution, and criminal charges. This warning did not stop thousands of Russian citizens from taking to the streets in at least 40 cities across the country to speak out against the invasion.
World Leaders Rush to Stop Invasion
For weeks, leaders from around the world have worked tirelessly to avert the invasion through diplomatic efforts. It only took minutes after the first signals of an attack for global political leaders to condemn the offensive.
U.S. President Joe Biden met with his G7 counterparts on Thursday to discuss the invasion and how Ukraine’s allies can sanction Putin for the decision. The president tweeted that the G7 leaders will hold Russia accountable through the use of sanctions and additional economic measures.
The European Union (EU) announced late Thursday that it wants to enact a series of further sanctions to punish Russia for its actions. The EU leaders are meeting in an emergency summit late Thursday in Brussels to discuss how to sanction Russia. The purpose of the sanctions is to prevent Putin and his leadership in Moscow from profiting financially as a result of the war.
It is unclear whether or not the EU will cut off Moscow from the use of SWIFT as part of the sanctions package. SWIFT is the acronym for a high-security financial network that taps into thousands of banks across the globe. The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania have all requested that the EU cut off Russia from SWIFT in an attempt to cripple its financial power.
Russian Markets React to Invasion
Russian stocks plummeted on Thursday on the Moscow Stock Exchange, finishing the trading day 33% lower. This finish was up from a low of 45% earlier in the day. In addition, the Russian ruble also hit an all-time low against both the U.S. dollar and the euro. The ruble finished 7% down against the dollar.
The biggest losers of the day were Russian energy companies and financial institutions. This is not surprising considering the rumors of new sanctions aimed at Russia’s banks.
Ukraine Limited in Abilities to Fight Back
Ukraine does not have the military capability needed to fight back. The Ukraine Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko, said that his country does not have enough people or equipment to prohibit Russian forces from advancing. Prystaiko said that Ukraine has been open about its needs for additional military equipment and financial support from other countries.
The EU is also expected to reveal a package of humanitarian support along with the sanctions that it recommends when it meets late Thursday. Prystaiko said that the humanitarian needs will be critical as Russian forces continue to target the infrastructure of Ukraine.
Ukrainian Ambassador to U.S. Addresses Reporters
Ukraine Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova addressed reporters on Thursday in Washington, D.C. Markarova said that all Ukrainians will continue to fight to protect their country as Russia advances. She also used this opportunity to thank Biden for immediately condemning the attacks early Thursday. Markarova also expressed gratitude to the U.S. allies who issued statements of support for Ukraine.
However, while Markarova was thankful for the verbal support, she implored the U.S. and its allies to act immediately with more than just words. Markarova is in support of additional sanctions to deter Russia from continuing with the invasion.