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Russia launches invasion of Ukraine – forces 'trying to seize' site of Chernobyl nuclear disaster

Russian forces have invaded Ukraine in a “full-scale” assault by land, sea and air – in what is the biggest attack by one country on another in Europe since World War Two.

Ukraine reported troops pouring across the borders with Russia and Belarus from the north and east, and landing on the coasts from the Black Sea in the southwest and Azov Sea in the southeast.

Fighting was reported near the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, around 100 miles from the capital Kyiv, with Russian forces said to be trying to seize the site where there was a devastating accident in 1986.

Missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities after President Vladimir Putin ordered a “specialised military operation” in the early hours.

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Explosions were heard in Kyiv, along with Kharkiv in the east, and Odessa in the south, and Sky News understands that borders have been breached in at least four areas of Ukraine.

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Video appears to show missile aftermath

Ukraine ‘attacked from Russia, Belarus and Crimea’ – latest live updates

Key developments at a glance:
’40 dead’ as Russia launches ‘second wave’
Ukrainian president reacts: Russian attack ‘like fascist Germany in the Second World War’
PM promises “massive sanctions” to “hobble” Moscow’s economy
UEFA to announce that the Champions League final to be moved from Russia

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‘Russian flag’ at Ukraine power plant

A US official said the Russians were moving on three axes – from annexed Crimea to Kherson in the south, from Belarus – north of Ukraine – towards Kyiv, and from the northeast to Kharkiv.

They said in the first few hours of the assault, more than 100 missiles were launched from land and sea, primarily short-range ballistic missiles, but also medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and surface-to-air missiles. The main targets were barracks, ammunition warehouses, and 10 airfields, before ground forces moved in.

What’s happening on the ground

Ukraine reported columns of troops penetrated its borders into the eastern Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Luhansk regions, and landing by sea at the cities of Odessa and Mariupol in the south.

Fierce fighting was taking place in the regions of Sumy and Kharkiv in the northeast, Kherson and Odessa in the south, and at a military airport near Kyiv, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office said.

Ukraine’s leadership said at least 40 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and at least several dozen wounded in what it called a “full-scale war” targeting the country from three sides.

An adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister said Russian troops from the direction of Russian ally Belarus entered an area near Chernobyl in Prypyat with reports heavy fighting may disturb nuclear waste there.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Twitter that Russian forces were trying to seize the Prypyat plant and his troops were “giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated”. He added: “This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”

And in the breakaway Donetsk region, where Ukraine government forces have been battling Russian-backed separatists for years, Russian forces struck a hospital, killing four people, according to local Ukrainian leaders.

At least 203 attacks have been carried out throughout the entire country today, according to Ukrainian police.

Armed forces are fighting a massive Russian artillery bombardment of infrastructure facilities, an adviser in President Zelenskyy’s office said.

Ukraine’s military said it destroyed four Russian tanks on a road near the eastern city of Kharkiv, killed 50 soldiers near a town in the Luhansk region and brought down six Russian warplanes in the east.

Russia’s defence ministry said its country’s military had destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities, including 11 air bases.

A map of Ukraine showing where there have been attacks
Image:
A map of Ukraine showing where there have been attacks

The Russian ministry said it was not targeting cities, but using precision weapons, claiming that “there is no threat to the civilian population”.

A Ukrainian military plane was shot down and five people were killed, Ukrainian authorities said.

Explosions heard in Kyiv as nearby airport targeted

The Russian military is trying to break into the Kyiv region, according to Ukraine’s border guard.

Explosions were witnessed by Sky News both in and around Kyiv and air raid sirens went off in the city.

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Sirens sound over Kyiv

Russian helicopters attacked Gostomel, a military airport near Kyiv, and Ukraine shot down three of them, according to Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine’s state emergency service said its ammunition depot in Kyiv caught fire.

At least six people were killed in the nearby city of Brovary, according to the mayor.

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Airport in Ukrainian city is on fire

Kharkiv, Lviv and Mariupol targeted

At least 18 people were killed in a missile attack in the southern region of Odessa, according to regional authorities.

In Kharkiv, a city in the east, a boy was killed after an apartment building was shelled.

Shelling in the Lviv region has been reported by the Ukraine emergency service, while blasts were reported in Mariupol, a southern port city.

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Watch and hear big Ukraine explosion

Ukrainian tanks were seen heading to the city by Reuters news agency and an airport there caught fire.

Five Russian planes and one helicopter were shot down over the Luhansk region, according to the Ukrainian military.

Martial law introduced as Ukrainian border attacked

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy introduced martial law, urging people to stay home as much as possible and not panic.

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Huge traffic jam as people flee Kyiv

The Russian military attacked the border from neighbouring Belarus as well as annexed Crimea, according to Ukraine’s border agency.

Border units, border patrols and checkpoints were targeted with artillery, heavy equipment and small arms, it said. Missiles were also used.

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Putin announces ‘military operation’

Ukraine said it is facing non-stop cyber attacks.

Read more:
What is Putin thinking?
What is happening in Ukraine?

How does Ukraine’s military compare to Russia’s?

People have started fleeing some cities and the country has closed its airspace to civilian flights.

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Video appears to show missile aftermath

Putin’s justification

In a television address announcing the “specialised military operation” in the Donbas region, Mr Putin claimed the attack was needed to protect people subjected to “genocide”.

He accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russian demands to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO.

He claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine but was aiming for the country’s “demilitarisation” and “de-Nazification”.

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Blasts recorded on the outskirts of Kharkiv

“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 said.

“We are ready for any outcome.”

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