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Russia launches major Ukraine invasion — as it happened

February 24, 2022

Ukrainian forces battled Russian troops on multiple fronts, including the outskirts of Kyiv. US President Joe Biden said Russia's Vladimir Putin "is the aggressor" and would bear the consequences.

Flame and smoke rise from the debris of a private house in the aftermath of Russian shelling outside Kyiv
A private home outside Kyiv was destroyed in Russian shellingImage: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/picture alliance
  • Ukraine says Russia has launched 'a full-scale attack' from multiple directions
  • Blasts have struck cities across Ukraine, including Kyiv
  • NATO to further bolster air, land and sea defenses on its eastern flank
  • The EU, US and UK have announced more sanctions against Russia 
  • EU says it will welcome refugees from Ukraine

We are now closing these live updates. Please head to our new article for all the latest news

UN increases humanitarian funds

The United Nations announced that it was immediately allocating $20 million (€17.8 million) to scale up UN humanitarian operations in Ukraine.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that U.N. and its humanitarian partners "are committed to staying and delivering, to support people in Ukraine in their time of need ... regardless of who or where they are.''

"With deaths rising, we are seeing images of fear, anguish and terror in every corner of Ukraine," the Guterres said.

"People — everyday innocent people — always pay the highest price."

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said the funds will support emergency operations along the contact line in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions and in other areas of the country and "help with health care, shelter, food, and water and sanitation to the most vulnerable people affected by the conflict."

Ukraine requests human rights meeting

Ukraine has requested that an urgent debate on the humanitarian situation in the country be held at the UN human rights council.

The request was made in response  "the extremely grave deterioration" of the situation in the country, Ukraine's UN envoy Yevheniia Filipenko said.

The EU delegation to the UN tweeted that it "fully supports" the request.

The council is made up of 47 countries, including Ukraine and all five permanent members of the UN security council.

The council is set to meet on Monday and is expected to be in session for five weeks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken are scheduled to speak at the council on Tuesday.

Macron and Putin speak

French President Emmanuel Macron called Vladimir Putin on Thursday demanding Russia stop military operations in Ukraine.

The French president phoned his Russian counterpart after he spoke telephonically with Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Macron undertook strenuous diplomacy in recent weeks to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine, including holding direct talks with Putin.

The Kremlin says there was a "serious and frank exchange of views" during the Thursday call.

Putin explained "in detail his reasons for the invasion, but Macron warned him of "massive sanctions."

Ukrainian men age 18-60 prohibited from leaving

Ukraine's border guard has said that males aged 18-60 are not allowed to leave the country in a statement posted on its Facebook account.

The border guard said that this restriction will last for the duration of the period of martial law in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared martial law earlier on Thursday shortly after it was reported that Russia had attacked Ukraine.

UN says 100,000 have fled their homes.

An estimated 100,000 have fled their homes and are uprooted after Russia's invasion, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday.

Shabia Mantoo, a spokesperson for the UNHCR, told the Reuters news agency several thousand Ukrainians have crossed into neighboring countries, mainly Moldova and Romania.

Poland said it would open nine reception centers to deal with the influx of refugees. 

Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said Poland will take in "as many as there will be at our borders." 

The centers would offer arrival meals and medical care, and a place to rest and receive information. 

Three out of four Germans are in favor of taking in Ukrainian refugees

Only 15% oppose admitting refugees, according to a Forsa survey commissioned by broadcasters RTL and ntv.

EU leaders agree 'massive' sanctions on Russia

European Union leaders have announced new sanctions against Russia.

A joint statement from the 27-nation bloc said the sanctions would target Russia's energy, finance, and transport sectors and restrictions on exports and financing.

"The European Council today agrees on further restrictive measures that will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action," they said after an emergency summit in Brussels.

The bloc also also wants to draw up sanctions against Belarus because of its close links to Russia.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, speaks with European Council President Charles Michel at an extraordinary EU summit on Ukraine in Brussels
EU Council President Charles Michel discussing sanctions against Russia with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at an extraordinary EU summitImage: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP Photo/picture alliance

IAEA calls for 'maximum restraint' as Russians take Chernobyl

Ukraine announced that is had lost control of the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, where radiation is still leaking from history's worst nuclear power disaster in 1986.

"After the absolutely senseless attack of the Russians in this direction, it is impossible to say that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe. This is one of the most serious threats to Europe today," said Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to the chief of the presidential administration.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that according to its information, ''there were no casualties or destruction at the industrial site.''

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi called for ''maximum restraint'' to avoid actions that could put Ukraine's nuclear facilities at risk.

''In line with its mandate, the IAEA is closely monitoring developments in Ukraine with a special focus on the safety and security of its nuclear power plants and other nuclear-related facilities,'' he said in a statement.

Read in-depth coverage from DW

Germany's Russian foreign policy famously focused on diplomacy instead of confrontation, given its own history with the Soviet Union during World War II. But Russia's invasion of Ukraine changes ties between the countries. What's next for Berlin?

Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to send troops across the border of a sovereign nation threatens European security, especially security of smaller eastern European states that aren't members of the EU or NATO. Here's how Russian invasion stands to shake up the geopolitical order as we know it.

Meanwhile, anti-war protests took place in numerous countries on Thursday, from Tokyo to Berlin to Madrid and even Moscow, until police intervened.

More than a thousand people detained in anti-war protests around Russia

Police have detained at least a thousand people at anti-war protests in cities across Russia, rights monitoring group OVD-Info said. The group has documented crackdowns on Russia's opposition for years.

The protesters staged small and single-person demonstrations against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Police officer detain an anti-war demonstrator in St. Petersburg, Russia
Demonstrators have staged small anti-war protests across RussiaImage: Dmitri Lovetsky/AP/picture alliance

Earlier Russian authorities warned anti-war sympathizers from gathering for protests. Russia outlawed demonstrations without a permit in 2014, though freedom of assembly is anchored in its constitution in theory.

US President Joe Biden declares 'Putin chose this war'

In a televised addressed, US President Joe Biden said that "for weeks we have been warning that Russia was preparing an attack. We saw staged political theater in Moscow, that Ukraine was about to launch a war with Russia…that Ukraine committed a genocide. Without any evidence."

"Putin declared his war," Biden continued, "and within moments missiles began to fall on historic cities in Ukraine."

"We’ve been transparent with the world, we’ve shared intelligence…so there could be no confusion about what Putin is doing. Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war."

Biden addresses Russian war on Ukraine

Biden then announced a new raft of sanctions, which targeted Russian banks and industry.

"We have purposely designed these sanctions to maximize the impact on Russia and minimize the impact on our allies…We are not acting alone. We have built a coalition representing half of world’s economy."

The president said that the effects of global sanctions could already been seen, "earlier today, the ruble hit its lowest level in history."

He then made clear that US soldiers currently being moved to Europe were to defend NATO allies, and would not be mobilized inside Ukraine.

UN releases $20 million to aid Ukraine

Antonio Guterres said the UN was scaling up its humanitarian operations in Ukraine.

The UN Secretary-General spoke to reporters at the UN head office in New York, stressing, "the protection of civilians must be priority number one."

The UN was releasing $20 million (€17.9 million) for immediate aid, he said.

He repeated his call to President Vladimir Putin to stop the military operation and pull back troops.

"It is not too late to save this generation from the scourge of war. We need peace," Guterres said.

Ukraine: Fleeing from Putin to Odessa

Boris Johnson announces a new set of sanctions on Russia

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the "largest-ever" set of economic sanctions against Russia in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to parliament, Johnson said the UK was sanctioning more than 100 individuals and entities and freezing assets of all major Russian banks, including VTB Bank.

"Furthermore, we are also banning [Russian commercial airline] Aeroflot from the UK," Johnson said.

The prime minister said some of the main restrictions would target Russian access to British banks, urging the EU to do the same with its SWIFT transaction system.

"These powers will enable us totally to exclude Russian banks from the UK financial system, which is of course by far the largest in Europe, stopping them from accessing sterling and clearing payments through the UK," Johnson told parliament.

In answer to questions from British lawmakers, Johnson said the West has learned "a bitter lesson" about how to deal with Putin.
"The whole of the West failed to respond in the way we should," he said.

Putin would be condemned by the world and by history for his invasion, never able to cleanse the "blood of Ukraine" from his hands, Johnson said.

India's Modi calls Putin, urging 'immediate cessation of violence'

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been friendly with Putin in the past, said he spoke with the Russian president on the phone, and called for "an immediate cessation of violence" as well as "concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue."

Some 16,000 Indian nationals reside in Ukraine, and Modi's foreign minister said earlier on Thursday that their safety and security was the government's top priority. Around 4,000 Indians have been repatriated in recent weeks, he said.

German Chancellor Scholz warns Putin not to 'underestimate' NATO resolve

Chancellor Olaf Scholz appeared at the top of the hour in the 6 p.m. evening news in Germany, giving a short address in response to developments in Ukraine. 

Scholz repeated his earlier comments in parliament when he had referred to the conflict as "Putin's war." 

"He and not the Russian people decided on this war. He alone bears responsibility for it. This war is Putin's war," Scholz said.

Scholz said it was important to ensure that "conflict does not spread to other countries in Europe." He warned the Russian leader not to underestimate NATO's determination to protect its members, which do not include Ukraine.

The Social Democrat said that fresh sanctions were being prepared internationally to "make Putin pay a high price for the attack."

EU leaders including Scholz are meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue, and are expected to announce new measures after their talks. 

G7 plans severe, coordinated response

Russian President Vladimir Putin has “re-introduced war to the European continent," the leaders of the G7 said in a joint statement following a virtual meeting on Thursday.

They strongly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine saying it was "a serious threat to the rules-based international order, with ramifications well beyond Europe."

They said Putin "put himself on the wrong side of history," and called on Russia to "stop the bloodshed, to immediately de-escalate and to withdraw its forces from Ukraine."

The Group of Seven industrialized nations plans to bring forward severe and coordinated economic and financial sanctions against Moscow.

The G7 leaders also said they were "closely monitoring" volatile oil and gas markets, and "stand ready to act as needed to address potential disruptions."

Markets take a hit, oil prices skyrocket

On Thursday morning, the price of Brent crude topped $100 (€89) per barrel. By the afternoon, Brent prices cruised past $105 per barrel for the first time since 2014.

Stock markets nosedived. Germany's DAX index plummeted by more than 5%, diving to around 13,870 points — its biggest daily dip in around two years.

"Our worst fears have been realized," said portfolio manager Thomas Altmann from QC Partners in Frankfurt. "There is war raging in Europe."

Gold, a classic "safe haven" investment, also rose in value, approaching $2,000 per troy ounce.

Shares in Russian gas giant Gazprom lost about a third of their value as investors anticipated further sanctions on Russia and its energy exports.

Opposition lawmaker says Germany should reconsider arms stance

The West failed to take President Vladimir Putin's threat against Ukraine "seriously enough," Thomas Silberhorn, a German opposition lawmaker from the conservative CDU/CSU alliance told DW.

He said Germany should now consider sending defensive weapons to aid Ukraine.

"It's always legitimate to support a country which is under attack. This is the minimum we should deliver as Western, liberal democracies," Silberhorn said. Until now, Germany had opted not to send weaponry to Ukraine, on the basis that it almost never approves arms exports to active conflict zones in the era since World War II.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine should provide impetus for Germany and Europe to reconsider its foreign policy, Silberhorn added.

"Our Western foreign policy and, in particular, our German foreign policy has been focused on dialogue, which is not wrong, but which is not sufficient. We need dialogue and deterrence and we need to do much, much more in Germany and in Europe to establish reliable and effective deterrents."

'We did not take Putin seriously enough'

Zelenskyy: Russia 'trying to seize' Chernobyl 

Ukraine's President Zelenskyy said Russian forces were "trying to seize" the Chernobyl former nuclear power plant

"Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated," Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter. "This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe." 

According to a Ukrainian Interior Ministry cited by Reuters, Russian troops had entered an area near the former Chernobyl power plant from the direction of Belarus. 

EU summons Russian ambassador

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell has ordered the summoning of the Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, in Brussels.

The EU conveyed to Chizhov the "strongest condemnation of the unprovoked, unjustified invasion of Ukraine" by Russian forces, EU foreign affairs spokesperson Peter Stano said in a statement.

The EU demanded that Putin ceases military operations "immediately," and withdraws forces and equipment from Ukrainian territory, Stano added.

Macron: Sanctions will be 'proportionate' to Russia's action

French President Emmanuel Macron, who had held talks with Putin in recent weeks as intensive diplomatic efforts were underway, said Paris and its allies had done everything to try to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In a televised address on Thursday, Macron said Russia's assault on Ukraine represented a "turning point in European history" and, as a result, "there will be profound consequences for our continent and changes in our lives."

"We have tried everything to avoid this war but it is here and we are ready," Macron said.

The French leader said sanctions would be "proportionate" to Russia's military operations, targeting its economy and its energy sector.

"We will show no weakness," Macron said. "We will take all measures necessary to defend the sovereignty and stability of our European allies." 

Putin 'going in to topple Ukraine's government'

F1 champs Vettel, Verstappen cast doubt on Russian Grand Prix

Four-times Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel said he would not take part in the Russian Grand Prix in September under the current circumstances, even if it goes ahead as planned.

"My own opinion is I should not go," Vettel, who races for Aston Martin, told reporters during pre-season testing in Barcelona. "I think it’s wrong to race in the country."

"I’m sorry for the innocent people that are losing their lives, that are getting killed for stupid reasons and a very, very strange and mad leadership," the 34-year-old said.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen agreed.

"When a country is at war, it’s not correct to race there, that's for sure," said the Red Bull driver.

Western sanctions against Russia are likely to include measures against more Russian banks including VTB, the title sponsor of the Russian Grand Prix.

President Vladimir Putin also tends to hand out trophies on the podium after the race.

Formula One officials have said they were "closely watching" developments, but have not commented on whether the Russian Grand Prix would go ahead on schedule in September.

Russia says discussions with US, NATO 'tense and detailed'

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the West of ignoring international law, but said Russia was still ready to talk. Lavrov said that his country had "tense and detailed" discussions with the US and NATO.

"We hope that there is still a chance to return to international law and international obligations," the foreign minister said in a statement published on his ministry's website.

The statement added that "while we are taking the measures announced by [President Putin] to ensure the security of the country and the Russian people, we will certainly always be ready for dialogue, which will return us to justice and the principles of the UN Charter."

The West accuses Russia of violating of international law with its invasion on Ukraine. 

'Many Russians are not aware of what is happening' – Journalist Natalia Smolentceva

Ex-German chancellor Schröder: Russia's interests don't justify 'military means'

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who sits on the board of Russia's state-run energy company Gazprom, seemed to criticize the Kremlin's decision to launch a war in Ukraine.

"There were many mistakes — on both sides" Schröder wrote in a social media post, commenting on the relationship between Russia and the West. "But even Russia's security interests do not justify the use of military means."

At the same time, Schröder called on the West not to sever "the remaining political, economic and civil society links" with Russia.

"Despite the current dramatic situation, these are the basis for a hope that we all have: that a dialogue on peace and security on our continent is possible again," he said.

Schröder led the German government from 1998 to 2005, when he was replaced by the recently retired Angela Merkel. Many German politicians, including members of his own left-leaning SPD, decry Schröder's close ties with the Kremlin. 

Schalke nixes Gazprom logo, UEFA debates St. Petersburg game

German soccer team Schalke have said that they will replace the logo of sponsor Gazprom on their shirts for an indeterminate period. The name of the Russian state oil giant will be replaced by the full name of the team, Schalke 04.

Senior Gazprom executive Matthias Warnig had already announced his intention to quit the supervisory board of Schalke earlier Thursday after being a target of US sanctions. Warnig is CEO of the newly built but never operated Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline which is a multibillion-dollar project of Gazprom and European companies. Earlier this week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz postponed certifying the pipeline indefinitely over Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Ukraine under attack

At the same time, European football body UEFA announced on Thursday that it was holding a meeting to discuss its showpiece game, the Champions League final.

The match, which sees the best two European football clubs square off, is due to be held in St. Petersburg on May 28.

Unconfirmed reports suggest UEFA is looking for another city to host the game.

McDonald's closing all restaurants in Ukraine

The global American fast food chain McDonald's announced it is closing its restaurants in Ukraine in order to ensure the safety of its staff and their families, the company said on the McDonald's Ukraine Facebook page.

McDonald's said it would keep its restaurants in the country closed until the situation stabilizes.

"Take care of yourselves," the company's Facebook post concluded.

Kyiv sends out air raid alert

The Kyiv city government sent out an air raid alert and called on residents to "urgently move into a civil defense shelter."

Separately, a Reuters reporter said a warning siren could be heard in the Ukrainian capital.

NATO chief: Russia 'alone and isolated'

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg expressed support to sanctions by the EU and Western allies against Russia.

"It demonstrates how alone and isolated Russia is," he told reporters.

Appearing at a joint press conference with the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, Stoltenberg also reiterated that "NATO and the EU stand by the brave people of Ukraine." 

'A blatant violation of international law'

EU Commission chief von der Leyen also praised the West's unity.

"We are at a watershed moment, and the three of us standing here together is yet more proof of how closely the EU and NATO are responding to the Russian actions."

"The Kremlin understands this and tried their best to divide us... but they achieved the opposite."

Invasion of Ukraine: DW's Teri Schultz reports from NATO headquarters

Russia says scores of military objects destroyed

The Russian Defense Ministry said the Russian military had destroyed 74 "objects of above-ground military infrastructure" in Ukraine, Russian state-run RIA news agency reports.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian police said that Russia had carried out 203 attacks. Ukraine's deputy defense minister added Russian forces were taken prisoner amid heavy fighting in the east of the country.

Germany army chief: Bundeswehr 'more or less empty-handed'

The supreme commander of the German army, Lieutenant General Alfons Mais, has said that the Bundeswehr currently has "extremely limited" options for supporting NATO amid the crisis and that calls for more funding made after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 had gone unheeded.

"I am really riled!" he wrote on the online platform LinkedIn, noting that he had not thought that, after over 40 years of serving in peace, would have to experience a war.

Zelenskyy: 'Putin started a war against Ukraine, against the whole democratic world'

"And the Bundeswehr, the army which I have the honour to command, is standing there more or less empty-handed," he said in an online post.

The military officers also said it was the time for Germany to "put the Afghanistan mission behind us structurally and materially" and refurbish the armed forces, saying they would otherwise be unable to fulfill their constitutional task and NATO obligations with any likelihood of success.

His view was echoed by former Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who wrote in a tweet, "I'm so angry at ourselves for our historical failure. After Georgia, Crimea, and Donbas, we have not prepared anything that would have really deterred Putin."

Kramp-Karrenbauer served as minister of defense under former Chancellor Angela Merkel from 2019 to 2021.

EU says refugees from Ukraine 'welcome'

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters the EU was prepared to provide a wide range of support for Ukraine, including hosting refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.

"We will welcome and host [refugees] immediately," she said. "We are fully prepared for them, and they are welcome."

Von der Leyen added that the EU will provide financial support for Ukraine, and the bloc's member states will support Ukraine with "everything they can."

Israel prepares for influx of refugees

Israel is "ready to accept thousands of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine," said Israeli Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata at a conference of US-Jewish organizations on Thursday

"Israel is prepared to deliver immediate humanitarian assistance to Ukraine," she added.

Israeli Foreign Ministry estimates there are currently around 43,000 Jewish Ukrainians living in Ukraine in addition to some 15,000 Israeli nationals also living in the eastern European country.

Beijing understands Russia's 'reasonable' security concerns

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke on the phone with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, over Ukraine.

Wang told Lavrov that Beijing "respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"At the same time, we have also seen that the Ukraine issue has its complex and special historical latitude and longitude, and we understand Russia's reasonable concerns on security issues," it added.

"China advocates that the Cold War mentality should be completely abandoned, and a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism should be finally formed through dialogue and negotiation."

According to the Interfax news agency, Russia's Foreign Ministry said the two diplomats agreed that "the cause of the crisis" was Kyiv's refusal, backed by Washington, to implement the Minsk agreements.

Separately, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying declined to label the Russian attack as an "invasion."

"This is perhaps a difference between China and you Westerners. We won't go rushing to a conclusion," Hua said.

UK's Boris Johnson: Attack gives Putin 'pariah status'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK will be stepping up its support to Ukraine in an address to the nation. He said Ukraine "is not some faraway country" and added, "We cannot and must not look away."

Johnson noted the UK was one of the first European countries to deliver weapons to Ukraine. He said the invasion gave Putin's regime "pariah status."

"I don't believe the Russian dictator will ever subdue the Ukrainians and their passionate belief that their country should be free," Johnson said.

In a Twitter post before the conference, the British prime minister described the war as "a catastrophe for our continent."

Turkey says invasion 'unjust and unlawful'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the Russian invasion of Ukraine "against international law" and  a "heavy blow" to peace and regional stability. He repeated a call for a resolution of the conflict.

Erdogan reiterated that Ankara viewed both countries as friendly and said he was "sincerely saddened" by the war.

The country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it considers the attack "unacceptable."

Turkey, which is a NATO member state, shares maritime borders in the Black Sea with both Russia and Ukraine.

Latvian defense minister calls upon Germany to act now

NATO chief: 'A grave moment for the security of Europe'

At a press conference, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which he called "deliberate, cold-blooded and long-planned."

He said that the invasion showed that peace could "not be taken for granted" but voiced the opinion that "freedom will always prevail over repression."

Stoltenberg also said NATO had activated its defense plans giving military commanders more authority to move and deploy forces when needed. He added NATO had increased its forces in the eastern part of the alliance and "will further increase and we are increasing."

"It will be a new reality, a new Europe after the invasion we saw today," Stoltenberg said.

He also reasserted NATO's principle that an attack on one ally will trigger a response from the alliance.

Kremlin: Objectives are Ukraine's demilitarization and 'denazification'

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian military operation in Ukraine is designed with two objectives in mind, namely the demilitarization and what he called the "denazification" of Ukraine. He added Putin will decide how long the military campaign will last based on the progress in achieving these objectives.

China asks for 'all parties to exercise restraint'

Peskov added that it was impossible to shut Russia off behind an Iron Curtain.

Putin will not talk to the media following a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Peskov said.

Germany's Scholz: 'This is Putin's war'

Expressing solidarity with Ukrainians, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany will coordinate with G7 and EU leaders to place severe sanctions on Russia. 

Scholz said the assault on Ukraine was completely without justification and called it "Putin's war."

"It will be clear that Putin has made a terrible mistake by unleashing this war," Scholz said, adding that Russia would pay a "bitter price" for invading its neighbor.

"I call on Putin immediately to stop the attack," Scholz said, adding that the Russian leader must completely withdraw his troops from Ukraine.

Scholz also said that he had ordered Germany's Security Cabinet to convene and had called for a special session of the German parliament on Sunday. A special video conference on G7 leaders will also be convened at his request, he said.

'Nobody in Europe will forget this day' – DW's Michaela Küfner in Berlin

Zelenskyy says second wave of missile strikes underway

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country is being hit by a second wave of missile strikes.

The first wave was launched in the early hours Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military into Ukraine.

Military command centers, the Kyiv Boryspil airport and other buildings in several Ukrainian cities were targeted in that first round of missile strikes.

NATO will bolster eastern flank

The permanent representatives of NATO member states agreed to bolster air, land and sea defenses on the alliance's eastern flank. NATO leaders will convene Friday to discuss the next steps after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"We will continue to do whatever is necessary to shield the alliance from aggression," said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. "NATO stands in solidarity with Ukraine and NATO allies are imposing severe costs on Russia."

In a statement, the North Atlantic Council, the alliance's principle political decision-making body, said the Russian invasion of Ukraine is "a grave violation of international law, including the UN Charter, and is wholly contradictory to Russia’s commitments in the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris, the Budapest Memorandum and the NATO-Russia Founding Act."

As such, "It constitutes an act of aggression against an independent peaceful country."

Ukrainian foreign minister: Russia attacking from multiple directions

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, "This is not a Russian invasion only in the east of Ukraine, but a full-scale attack from multiple directions."

Zelenskyy: 'We are ready for everything, and we will defeat anyone'

Putin ally: Ukraine must demilitarize to prevent war

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of the Russian Duma, called for Ukraine to be "demilitarized."

Volodin said it was the only way to prevent war in Europe, Russian state news agency Ria reported. He is considered a close ally to the Russian president.

Germany offers support to Poland 

Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement that her country would offer support to eastern European countries, notably Poland, that will likely soon face an influx of refugees spilling over from the conflict in neighboring Ukraine.

Faeser said, "We will offer massive support to the affected states — especially our neighbor Poland — in the event of large refugee movements."

She added Germany's security services have increased protections against the possibility of cyberattacks.

Latvian defense minister calls for Germany to allow lethal arms for Ukraine

Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks appealed to Germany to allow the transfer of lethal weapons to Ukraine to counter the Russian invasion.

"Please open your eyes. Please also allow Ukrainians to receive lethal aid, because the situation is totally different than it was before," he told DW. "Germany is the largest European country; it's time for you to act now because a lot depends on you."

Pabriks also said the West had just “one chance” to counter the Russian invasion.

"First, we must start immediately with massive sanctions against the aggressor state of Russia. Secondly, we must provide the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian population with massive aid so they can prevail," he said.

"That is the only way we can say that the blood of Ukrainians is not also on our hands," Pabriks added.

Ukrainian police inspect the remains of a missile on a street
Ukrainian police inspect the remains of a missile on a streetImage: Valentyn Ogirenko/REUTERS

Ukraine's Zelenskyy gives emotional address to nation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said weapons will be issued to those who want them and called on Ukrainians to donate blood.

In an address to the nation, he said Russia had suffered losses during the initial stages of its invasion and added Ukraine had severed diplomatic relations with Russia.

He concluded his emotional speech, "Glory to Ukraine!"

Germany's Baerbock to Putin: 'You will never destroy the dream of democracy'

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has delivered a speech in which she directly addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling him: "You will never destroy the dream of democracy and freedom."

"Many people in your country will be ashamed," she said in another remark directed at the Russian leader.

She called Russia's attack on Ukraine a blatant attack on the world order and the rule of law and promised that a package of harshest sanctions would be imposed on Moscow.

"If we do not take a clear stance on this, we will pay an even higher price in future," she said.

Earlier in her address, she also called on German citizens to immediately leave Ukraine for their safety, saying preparations had been made for the exit.

German FM: 'The full package of sanctions will be unleashed on Russia'

Lithuania declares a state of emergency

Lithuania's President Gitanas Nauseda signed a decree calling for a state of emergency in his country, Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT reported.

The state of emergency will have to be approved by the parliament, called the Seimas.

Lithuania borders Russia and Belarus, though not Ukraine, and, along with the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia, is a member of both the EU and NATO. 

Belarusian leader denies participating in Russian invasion

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has denied that his country's troops are involved in Russia's attack on Ukraine, according to Belarus's state-run news agency Belta.

Lukashenko was reportedly responding to reports by international agencies that Russian troops backed by Belarus had attacked Ukraine's northern border.

"Our troops took no part in this operation," the report said. Lukashenko later clarified that Belarusian troops could take part if needed.

Russian state-run Ria reports Lukashenko offered to hold talks between Russia and Ukraine in Minsk.

How will the US respond? DW's Ines Pohl from Washington DC

Lufthansa cancels all flights to Ukraine

German carrier Lufthansa announced the cancellation of all flights to Ukraine. Earlier in the week, the Lufthansa Group, which includes Swiss Air, Brussels Air and Austrian Airlines, ceased flying to Odesa and Kyiv.

A Thursday night Frankfurt to Lviv flight was canceled due to security reasons, an airline spokesperson said.

Lufthansa said its security assessments are ongoing.

Moldova prepares to aid fleeing Ukrainians

Moldovan President Maia Sandu said her country will introduce a state of emergency as the country prepares to receive potentially tens of thousands of Ukrainians who may soon cross the border seeking refuge.

Sandu said, "We will help people who need our help and support."

Local media reports the country will close its airspace at 12:00 p.m. local time (1000 UTC) and earlier showed pictures of a queue of cars on the Ukrainian side of the border looking to cross into Moldova. 

Russian tanks enter Ukraine

Russian tanks have entered Ukraine in the Luhansk region as well as from Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, Ukraine's border guard service reports.

The border guard also reported one casualty from shelling on the border with Crimea, the first confirmed military death during the invasion. Earlier Ukraine said eight people had died in the shelling.

Police in Ukraine have said they are distributing weapons to veterans.

Russia's Defense Ministry said its air campaign against Ukraine was not targeting cities and did not pose a threat to civilians, according to the Russian state-run RIA news agency.

Graphic comparing Russian and Ukrainian military strength

EU to impose 'harshest' sanctions over attack

European Union leaders are to discuss new sanctions on Russia at an emergency meeting later on Thursday in reaction to its attack on Ukraine, the bloc has said.

At a press conference, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for "bringing war back to Europe" in an "unprecedented act of aggression … against a sovereign, independent country."

"Russia's target is not only the Donbas; the target is not just Ukraine; the target is the stability of Europe and the whole of the international peace order," she said.

She said new EU sanctions would be imposed on Russia's access to "key technologies and markets." The bloc would also freeze Russian assets in Europe and block Moscow's access to European financial markets,” she added.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the raft of sanctions to be discussed at the meeting were the "strongest, the harshest package'' ever considered.

Ursula von der Leyen: 'We condemn this barbaric attack'

Aim to capture Ukrainian regions, says separatist

A Russian-backed separatist has said pro-Russian fighters' main goal is to regain control over all the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, where their breakaway territories are situated, the Interfax news agency reported.

Separatists in Ukraine had claimed earlier in the day that they had seized the towns of Stanytsia, Luhanska and Schastia, as Kyiv confirmed the advancement of pro-Russian forces into regions controlled by government troops.

China urges restraint

Beijing has repeated its call for all sides involved in the conflict in Ukraine to exercise restraint.

The country's Foreign Ministry said it was monitoring the developments closely.

In Kyiv, the Chinese Embassy told its citizens to display Chinese flags on vehicles if they needed to travel.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying dismissed a foreign journalist's description of Russia's actions as an "invasion."

Brent crude tops $100 per barrel, ruble tumbles

The price of Brent crude topped $100 (€89) per barrel Thursday morning after trading just below $100 per barrel much of the week.

The Russian ruble also sunk to an all-time low against the US dollar and the euro on Thursday following Putin's decision to order forces to attack Ukraine. At 0720 GMT, the ruble lost 8% of its value against the US dollar, trading at 87.55 having recovered a bit from an earlier low of 89.60.

Moscow's stock exchange MOEX was forced to suspend trading shortly after markets opened at 0400 GMT. Trading resumed at 0700 UTC.

Russian shares and bonds all plummeted as investors took stock of overnight events and the looming Western sanctions that are all but certain to follow.

Ukraine asks Turkey to close Bosporus, Dardanelles straits

Ukraine's ambassador in Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, said his country had asked Turkey to close the Bosporus and the Dardanelles straits to Russia.

Six Russian warships and a submarine traversed the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits to the Black Sea to conduct what Russia called naval drills at the time near Ukraine's territorial waters.

Bohdar told Reuters news agency the Russian ships presented "a great danger" as Russia's naval assets in the Black Sea are "overwhelming."

Wednesday Bondar said, "When the war becomes not only de facto but de jure - we will ask the Turkish government to consider the possibility of closing the Black Sea straits for the aggressor state."

The 1936 Montreux Convention gave NATO member state Turkey control over the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which connect the Mediterranean and Black seas. Ankara has the power to regulate transit and close the straits to foreign warships during war or when its national security is threatened.

Russian military hardware entering from Crimea

Kyiv has said Russia is bringing military equipment into the country from Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, as the shelling continues in Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have also reported "non-stop" cyberattacks on Thursday.

Explosions across Ukraine: DW's Nick Connolly reports

German foreign, defense ministers slam Russian attack

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a tweet that the Russian attack on Ukraine "violated the most elementary rules of the international order."

"The world community will not forget Russia's day of shame," she said.

Baerbock has called a meeting of the federal government's crisis response group in Berlin for this morning, the Foreign Ministry said.

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said it was never too late for dialogue with Russia. But she stressed that NATO and the European Union were united in their response to Russia's "drastic breach of international law," particularly in their support for allies on NATO's eastern flank.

Latvian Prime Minister calls for NATO Article 4 consultations

The prime minister of NATO member state Latvia, Krisjanis Karins, wrote in a tweet that he is calling for Article 4 consultations.

"The Russian military aggression against Ukraine’s sovereignty, people and democracy is totally unacceptable. It is Putin’s responsibility to end it immediately," he wrote.

While Article 5 calls for collective defense if any NATO member is attacked, Article 4 calls for consultations when any member views a threat to the territorial integrity, political independence or security of an alliance party.

First casualties reported, shelling across Ukraine

One person is reported to have been killed and another wounded in the city of Brovary in the Kyiv region, according to a Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser.

Reports of shelling are coming in from cities across the country.

"Intense" shelling was first reported in eastern Ukraine, however, Ukraine's emergency service has said that the Lviv region in western Ukraine is also witnessing shelling.

A DW correspondent in Kyiv reported hearing explosions in the Ukrainian capital's districts of Vasilkov, Brovary und Boryspil.

DW correspondent: 'A very dangerous moment for Europe'

DW Russian affairs correspondent Konstantin Eggert has said Russia's actions "represented an attempt to establish full control of Ukraine." He said that Moscow's bid to overthrow an elected government in another country was a challenge the West had probably not expected, calling it "a very dangerous moment definitely for Europe if not for the world."

When asked about how much support Putin had among the Russian public for his actions in Ukraine, Eggert said that even independent polls showing that 45%-50% of people backed the invasion could not be trusted, as Russians were very cautious about giving their views. But he said, "We can't expect thousands of people in the Red Square demanding that Putin resign and the war stop."

Russia says Ukraine airbases, air defenses 'destroyed': reports

Russian news agencies have quoted officials saying that Ukraine's air defenses have been "neutralized."

"Military infrastructure at Ukrainian army airbases has been rendered out of action," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement quoted by the country's news agencies.

The statement added that Kyiv's air defense systems were "destroyed."

Ukraine's military claimed to have downed five Russian jets and a helicopter in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denied its aircraft were shot down.

Germany's Scholz vows 'full solidarity' with Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of "Germany's full solidarity in this hard hour" in a phone call, according to a tweet from German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Germany's Foreign Ministry called on any Germans still in Ukraine to leave the country urgently. 

EU's aviation agency gives warning for civilian flights

Europe's aviation regulator, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), has warned against flying in bordering areas of Russia and Belarus because of military activities. This comes after Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights on Thursday, citing a high risk to safety.

"In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft," EASA said in a special bulletin, adding that “all altitudes and flight levels” posed a danger.

Situation in Kyiv - DW's Fanny Facsar reports from Ukrainian capital

Attacks from Belarus

Ukraine is being shelled along its northern border with Russia and Belarus, the border guard service said. It said in a statement that the artillery fire was being returned by Ukrainian forces.

Border guards said Russian forces were supported by Belarus and that an attack had been launched from Crimea, the Russian-occupied peninsula region on Ukraine's southern flank.

"Attacks on border units, border detachments and checkpoints are carried out with the use of artillery, heavy equipment and small arms," the border guards' statement said.

How are EU and NATO reacting? DW's Alexandra von Nahmen reports from Brussels

Ukrainian president: 'Military infrastructure' under attack

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country's "military infrastructure" and border guards were under attack, but he urged citizens not to panic and vowed victory.

"This morning, Russia launched a new military operation against our state," Zelenskyy said in a statement posted on the presidential website. "This is a completely groundless, cynical invasion.

"We, the citizens of Ukraine, have been determining our own future since 1991," he said, referring to the year of the Soviet Union's collapse.

"But now, what is being decided is not only our country's future, but also the future of how Europe will live."

Zelenskyy giving an address on television
Zelenskyy said, "We, the citizens of Ukraine, have been determining our own future since 1991"Image: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/REUTERS

Air raid sirens across Kyiv

People in Kyiv woke up to air raid sirens echoing through the capital early on Thursday as Ukrainian officials reported Russian missile strikes and artillery in several cities.

Citizens were seen heading for underground metro stations to take shelter, AFP news agency reported.

Ukraine appeals for weapons

Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, wrote on Twitter that the international community needs to send weapons to Ukraine and put "devastating sanctions" on Russia.

German chancellor: 'A terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe'

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has condemned Russia's actions, calling them "a blatant breach of international law" and completely unjustifiable. "This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe," he said.

"Russia must stop this military action immediately," he added.

US promises support to Ukraine

US President Biden called the Russian military operation in Ukraine an "unjustified" attack that will cause a "catastrophic loss of life."

Biden vowed "support and assistance" for Ukraine in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy late on Wednesday night (Washington time), the White House said.

"We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people," Biden said in a statement.

UK, EU vow to hold Russia accountable

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Putin "has chosen a path of bloodshed" in Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen denounced Russia's attack and vowed to hold Moscow "accountable."

Ukraine president announces martial law

Following reports of explosions in Ukrainian territory, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia had carried out missile strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure and border guards.

Zelensky added that he would introduce martial law throughout Ukraine. He called on people in Ukrainian citizens to stay at home as much as possible.

Russia's UN diplomat says target is Kyiv government

Russia's envoy to the UN Vassily Nebenzia told an emergency Security Council meeting late on Wednesday that Moscow's military operation against Ukraine was targeting "the junta" in power in Kyiv.

"I wanted to say in conclusion that we aren't being aggressive against the Ukrainian people but against the junta that is in power in Kyiv," Nebenzia said.

UN Secretary-General to Putin: 'Stop your troops from attacking Ukraine'

Kyiv mayor tells people to stay home

The mayor of Kyiv has urged citizens to stay at home after explosions were heard in the city. There were also reports of lights going out in some places.

Kyiv says 'full-scale invasion' underway

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says Russia has launched a "full-scale invasion of Ukraine." He has urged the world to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Report of Black Sea landings 

The Interfax news agency is reporting landing operations by forces from Russia's Black Sea Fleet in the Sea of Azov and the western port of Odesa. The AFP news agency reported explosions in Odessa.

UN plea for Putin to change direction

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war 'in the name of humanity', shortly after the Russian leader ordered the military operation in eastern Ukraine.

"President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia," Guterres said, speaking after an emergency
meeting of the Security Council.

He added that the repercussions of a war would be devastating for Ukraine and far-reaching for the global economy.

Biden says attack 'unprovoked and unjustified'

US President Joe Biden has denounced Russia's decision to conduct a military operation in eastern Ukraine, calling it "unprovoked and unjustified."

Biden vowed that the world  will "hold Russia accountable."

He is set to address the nation on “consequences” for Russia on Thursday.

The US president said that he is monitoring the situation in Ukraine from the White House and will also talk to G7 counterparts on Thursday.

Biden said that the US and its allies will respond to the attack on Ukraine in a united and decisive way.

"President (Vladimir) Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering," he said in his statement."

Explosions reported in parts of Ukraine

Explosions were reported to have been heard in Kyiv, and other areas of Ukraine while Putin spoke. Blasts were reported in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which is near the line of contact with separatist forces.

Putin announces military operation 

The Russian president on Thursday announced an operation in Ukraine in a surprise televised address.

Putin said the action came in response to threats that he claimed came from Ukraine. 

"I have made the decision of a military operation," he said in a statement shortly before 6 a.m. (0300 GMT).

Vladimir Putin: 'Lay down your weapons and go home'

Putin called on Ukraine's military to "lay down its arms," saying that servicemen who do so will be able to safely leave the zone of combat.

During the announcement, Putin said that Russia "cannot tolerate threats coming from Ukraine."

He said Russia did not have a goal to occupy Ukraine, and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to "consequences they have never seen.''

Putin claimed that the goal of the operation was to protect civilians and ensure a "demilitarization" of Ukraine.

Ukraine`s UN envoy says Russia declared war

UN chief tells Putin not to attack Ukraine

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Putin not to order troops to attack Ukraine during an emergency security council meeting in New York.

"The day was full of rumors and indications that an offensive... was imminent," Guterres said.

"If indeed an operation is being prepared, I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart, Guterres added.

"President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine, give peace a chance."

The US envoy to the security council said during the meeting that the US and Ukraine believe that a "full-scale, further invasion into Ukraine by Russia is imminent."

​​Airspace deemed hazardous

Airlines should stop flying over Ukraine due to the risk of an unintended shootdown, a conflict zone monitor said.

The monitor also mentioned the possibility of cyberattacks targeting air traffic control.

Safe Airspace said it had increased its risk level to "do not fly."

The organization was set up to provide safety and conflict zone information for airlines after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

"Regardless of the actual movements of Russian forces into Ukraine, the level of tension and uncertainty in Ukraine is now extreme," Safe Airspace said.

"This itself gives rise to significant risk to civil aviation."

Ukraine said that flights of civilian aircraft in its airspace are "restricted due to potential hazard for civil aviation," according to a notice to airmen issued at 0156 GMT on Thursday.

The notice is due to expire 2359 GMT on Thursday unless extended.

Airports in of Ukraine's central-eastern cities of Dnipro, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia are closed to traffic until Thursday morning, also according to notices to airmen.

Most recent developments on Ukraine

Diplomats said that the UN security council would hold an emergency session on Ukraine on Wednesday night.

The meeting — scheduled for 0230 GMT/UTC — would be the second to be held on Ukraine in three days and comes hours after Kyiv requested it.

The news comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he had unsuccessfully sought talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the escalating crisis in eastern Ukraine.

Zelensky rejected Moscow's claim that Ukraine was a threat to Russia.

"The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace," Zelensky said, adding that a Russian invasion would cost tens of thousands of lives.

Zelensky added that there were now 200,000 Russian troops amassed near Ukraine's borders.

According to Moscow, the leaders of the two Russian-held separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk have asked Putin for help to fend off Ukrainian "aggression."

The US has accused Russia of plotting so-called false flag incidents, provocations staged to create a pretext for action.

Earlier on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden has sanctioned the makers of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that connects Russia and Germany.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called EU sanctions approved Wednesday against Russia "a first step" and warned more could follow.

lo/rc/sdi (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)