Russia-Ukraine live updates: Ukrainian leader directs emotional plea to Russian citizens amid fears of imminent assault

Russia-Ukraine live updates: Ukrainian leader directs emotional plea to Russian citizens amid fears of imminent assault

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Russia on Thursday launched a military assault against Ukraine, President Biden said, with explosions occurring across a wide swath of the country, in what the president called an “unjustified attack” that signals “a premeditated war.”

The explosions could be heard in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and Kharkiv, in the country’s northeast. A senior Ukrainian official said there were also explosions at the country’s largest airport, in Kyiv. Air raid sirens were going off in the capital, though the official said that they were intended to wake up residents and that there were no indications of incoming warplanes.

The attacks came as Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the launch of a “special military operation” to carry out the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine and end eight years of war in the country’s east, where Kyiv government forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared martial law, a Ukrainian government official said Thursday. Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart were speaking on the phone just before midnight Eastern time, according to a White House official.

In a statement, Biden said that 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,” he said. “The world will hold Russia accountable.”

Here’s what to know

  • Biden plans to speak early Thursday afternoon and will address “further consequences” that the United States and its allies plan to impose on Russia, the White House said.
  • Zelensky pleaded with the Russian people late Wednesday to stop their leadership from sending troops across the border and into his country.
  • Members of the U.N. Security Council made a succession of pleas for peace and dialogue in an emergency session that laid bare the limits of the world body’s influence.
  • Civil aircraft flights across Ukraine’s airspace were suspended Thursday because of “potential hazard to civil aviation,” according to a notice to airmen.
  • U.S. markets sank again Wednesday as uncertainty over the conflict in Ukraine continued to plague investors. The growing threat of war in Ukraine also moved oil prices higher.

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