In the early hours of Thursday morning, Ukrainians woke to air raid sirens blaring out across all of their major cities followed by multiple missile blasts. The blasts were the beginning of a full-scale military invasion announced by Russian President, Vladimir Putin just minutes before.
Appearing unexpectedly on Russian national television, Putin addressed the Ukrainian people stating that the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine had turned to Russia with a request for help to free it from the occupation of “Ukrainian criminals”.
He was alluding to a letter sent on Wednesday from separatists in the Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk that had requested Russian military aid to expel the Ukrainian military presence in the region.
Putin informed the public of Russia’s resolve to this plea stating: "For this we will aim for demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, as well as bringing to justice those who carried out multiple bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation."
“Whoever would try to stop us and further create threats to our country, to our people, should know that Russia's response will be immediate and lead you to such consequences that you have never faced in your history," he added.
Shortly after the address, missiles began to strike across Ukraine as Russian air raids began to sweep the country and ground troops began to charge through the borders of northern, eastern, and southern Ukraine.
Ukrainian government officials announced they had reports of heavy ballistic missile strikes targeting critical infrastructure such as roads and airports in the cities of Dnipro, Kharkiv, Mariupol and the capital city Kyiv.
This officially commenced the beginning of the largest military invasion of another nation in Europe since WWII. Immediately responding to the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensk declared martial law and announced that Ukraine has been invaded by Russia and citizens are recommended to not leave their homes unless instructed to evacuate.
But the recommendation fell on deaf ears as thousands of cars quickly congested the streets of cities across Ukraine as citizens attempted to leave the cities for safety in the rural countryside, while thousands more people flooded into the underground subway systems to hide from the blasts.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, tweeted: “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes. 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.”
Ukrainian Minister of Defence, Oleksii Reznikov, stated on Twitter: “All those who are ready to hold weapons, join the ranks of the military. We have simplified all procedures. Take only your passport. We will give weapons to all patriots who are without hesitation ready to use them against the enemy!”
Putin’s justification for the invasion was explained on Monday during a televised address in which he explained that Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all one people fragmented by historical events and the territories they hold should all be one.
Putin stated: “Modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by Bolshevik, Communist Russia. This process started practically right after the 1917 revolution, and Lenin and his associates did it in a way that was extremely harsh on Russia by separating, severing what is historically Russian land.”
“Nobody asked the millions of people living there what they thought.”
“You want decommunisation? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunisations would mean for Ukraine,” Putin emoted.
The effects of this war however have led to a massive economic downturn as Brent crude oil prices have hit over $100 per barrel for the first time since 2014, the Russian stock markets similarly slumped by 50% with over $250 billion being wiped in a day.
Condemnation for this invasion has poured in from world leaders across the globe with US President Joe Biden stating: “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."
Promises of harsher economic sanctions on Russia have been promised by all NATO member states and the EU, as well as increased military aid to assist Ukraine.