International

Live coverage: Ukrainian death toll surpasses 130 in attack’s first day

Associated Press/ Uncredited

Russian President Vladimir Putin early on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine, leading to international condemnation of what world leaders called the start of a Russian invasion.

Putin claimed in a televised address that the operation was aimed at protecting eastern Ukraine from what he called a “regime,” continuing the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign.

Russian forces have entered Ukraine and explosions have been heard across the country. Ukraine says Russia has conducted strikes on its military infrastructure.

Follow The Hill’s live coverage below:

EU condemns Russian invasion of Ukraine, announces additional sanctions

BY CHLOE FOLMAR

10:28 p.m.

The Council of the European Union on Thursday condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and announced that it had agreed to an additional package of sanctions against Russia.

“The European Council condemns in the strongest possible terms the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine,” read a set of conclusions adopted by the council during a special meeting on Thursday. “Russia bears full responsibility for this act of aggression and all the destruction and loss of life it will cause. It will be held accountable for its actions.”

It also condemned the involvement of Belarus in Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, asking the country to “abide by its international obligations” and refrainin from further military action.

The council announced it had agreed to additional sanctions against Russia due to the invasion.

The sanctions, the council said, “will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action.” They cover the financial sector, energy and transport sectors, dual-use goods, export control and export financings, visa policy, additional listings of Russian individuals and new listing criteria.

In its conclusions, the council also called for the “urgent preparation and adoption” of further sanctions that would cover Belarus.

Japan, Australia, New Zealand impose penalties on Russia following invasion into Ukraine

BY CAROLINE VAKIL

9:43 p.m.

Japan, Australia and New Zealand announced that they would be imposing penalties against Russia after it invaded Ukraine early Thursday.

Japan and Australia, both of which had already announced sanctions against Russia prior to the invasion, announced on Friday that they would be levying more against Moscow.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also said that his country would be sanctioning “key Belarusian individuals and entities” and 300 Russian lawmakers who voted in favor of attacking Ukraine, The New York Times reported. The country also noted that it was working together with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to give Ukraine “non-lethal military equipment and medical supplies.” 

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced a new round of sanctions against Russia, which included suspending the issuing of visas to certain Russian entities and people, export controls on certain items such as semiconductors and a freeze on assets held by financial institutions in Russia, The Japan Times reported.

Though New Zealand does not have an autonomous sanctions law, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also announced several moves against Russia, including bans on exports to the Russian military and on Russian officials and others traveling to New Zealand, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Zelensky: Ukraine ‘left alone’ to defend against Russian invasion

BY CHLOE FOLMAR

9:22 p.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech Thursday that Ukraine has been “left alone” to defend against the Russian invasion that began less than 24 hours earlier.
 
“Today Russia attacked the entire territory of our state,” Zelensky said. “And today our defenders have done a lot.”
 
“They defended almost the entire territory of Ukraine,” he continued. “Which suffered direct blows. They regain the one that the enemy managed to occupy.”
 
Zelensky said that “we are supported,” citing conversations he had with worldwide leaders after the invasion.
 
However, he added that Ukraine is “left alone in defense of our state.”
 
“Who is ready to fight with us?” Zelensky asked. “Honestly — I do not see such.”
 

Blinken says he’s ‘convinced’ Putin will try to topple Ukrainian government

BY CAROLINE VAKIL

9:03 p.m.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview on Thursday that he is “convinced” Russian President Vladimir Putin will try to overthrow the Ukrainian government, remarks that come less than 24 hours since Russia invaded Ukraine.
 
During an interview on ABC’s “World News Tonight,” anchor David Muir asked Blinken if he was convinced that Putin was going to overthrow the Ukrainian government.
 
“I’m convinced he’s going to try to do that,” Blinken answered.
 
Blinken’s remarks come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced in a statement on Thursday that 137 people had already died since Russia launched its invasion and 316 others were injured.
 
Death toll in Ukraine climbs to above 130, Zelensky says

BY CAROLINE VAKIL

7:05 p.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that more than 137 people had died and hundreds more were injured after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine.

Zelenksy, citing preliminary data, said in a statement that 137 people had died, including 10 military officers, and that 316 had been injured.

“On our Zmiinyi Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically. But did not give up. All of them will be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine,” the Ukrainian president said. “May the memory of those who gave their lives for Ukraine live forever.”

Those figures are significantly higher than a previous assessment from the Ukrainian health minister who said earlier in the day that 57 had died and 169 were injured.

Ukraine’s president ordered a full military mobilization on Thursday amid the deadly invasion of his country.

Zelensky orders full military mobilization

BY BRADLEY DRESS

7:00 p.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered a full military mobilization that will last 90 days, The Associated Press reported.

The order will allow Zelensky to tap into reserve forces and call up able-bodied men of fighting age, with the number eligible determined by the military’s general staff. 

The president’s cabinet will allocate money for the mobilization, according to the AP.

The news comes after Ukraine’s Parliament reported armed forces reclaimed the Antonov Airport at the edge of Kyiv, which had earlier been seized by Russian forces, according to ABC News.

Psaki: ‘Deeply courageous’ for Russians to protest Ukraine invasion

BY BRETT SAMUELS

6:50 p.m.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday praised the courage of Russians protesting the invasion of neighboring Ukraine despite government threats.

Psaki highlighted mass demonstrations in cities like St. Petersburg and open letters and social media posts from Russian journalists and celebrities speaking out against President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch attacks on Ukraine early Thursday morning. 

“I think it’s important to remember back in 2014 when they didn’t even acknowledge they were sending Russian soldiers, they didn’t even acknowledge there were body bags coming back from Ukraine into Russia,” Psaki said, referencing the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. “And there is an outcry in the streets by Russian people, by more Russian people than I think many would expect.”

“Despite Putin’s crackdown at home, dissenting views remain, and I think that’s important to note,” Psaki continued. “To publicly protest against President Putin and his war is a deeply courageous act. Their actions show the world that despite the Kremlin’s propaganda, there are Russian people who profoundly disagree with what he is doing in Ukraine.”

Putin announced the military operation before 6 a.m. in Moscow, prompting surprise and confusion among many in the country.

Videos circulated on social media of demonstrations in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities in Russia as protesters chanted and held signs in opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.

Biden briefs congressional leadership

BY JORDAN WILLIAMS

5:58 p.m.

President Biden has briefed congressional leadership on the ongoing Russian-Ukraine crisis, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in Kentucky, McConnell said that he was in a briefing with Biden, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

“I just finished a call with the president Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and Leader McCarthy,” he said. “A briefing from the president with the four of us on the events of today and the way forward.”

The Kentucky Republican didn’t give details on the briefing, but he called for Biden to “ratchet the sanctions all the way up. Don’t hold back.”

“Every single available tough sanction should be employed and should be employed now,” McConnell added.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden was on the phone with congressional leadership for about an hour, briefing them on the situation on the ground.

The briefing came before Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen were slated to hold unclassified phone briefings with the House and the Senate later in the evening.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said early Thursday morning local time that he would launch a military operation in eastern Ukraine, a move which was widely condemned by the rest of the world and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Pelosi separately said that Congress is receiving an all-member, in-person briefing form administration officials next week.

Canada announces more sanctions against Russia amid attack on Ukraine

BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL

5:34 p.m.

Canada announced additional sanctions against Russia on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the sanctions will target 58 individuals and entities, including Russian elites and major Russian banks. The Russian Security Council — including the defense, finance and justice ministers — will also face sanctions.

“Today, in light of Russia’s reckless and dangerous military strike, we are imposing further, severe sanctions,” Trudeau said at a news conference.

“These sanctions are wide-reaching. They will impose severe costs on complicit Russian elites, and they will limit President Putin’s ability to continue funding this unjustified invasion,” he added.

Canada imposed sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, barring all Canadians from taking part in financial dealings with the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, according to Trudeau. The sanctions also prohibited Canadians from purchasing Russia sovereign debt, targeted members of Russia’s parliament who voted to recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics as independent, and took aim at two state-backed Russian banks.

President Biden also unveiled additional sanctions against Russia on Thursday, targeting major Russian banks and Russian elites with ties to the Kremlin. Additionally, Biden said the U.S. will impose export controls on Russia to restrict its high-tech imports.

Protests erupt around the world in support of Ukraine

LEXI LONAS

5:05 p.m.

Protests have erupted around the world in support of Ukraine after Russia invaded the country early Thursday morning.

Thousands of people from multiple countries, including the U.S., Japan and even Russia itself, have taken to the streets to speak out against the Russian military’s attack on Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Protests have occurred in the U.S., Russia, Japan, Israel, the U.K., France, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Ireland and several other countries thus far. 

In Russia, videos have surfaced on social media of citizens chanting “no to war” while OVD-Info, a protest monitoring group, says Russian authorities have arrested more than 1,700 protesters since the invasion began. 

In Washington, D.C., the Secret Service arrested an individual who wrote “murder” outside the Russian embassy.

Ukraine’s president has called on Russians and the world to continue speaking out against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade and provide aid to the country during their time of crisis.

Pentagon: Russia has fired more than 160 missiles into Ukraine

ELLEN MITCHELL

5:04 p.m.

The United States has assessed Russian forces to have fired more than 160 missiles into Ukraine, a senior Defense official said Thursday.    

The Kremlin has launched “in total more than 160 missiles for airstrikes,” fired from a mixture of ground and naval-based platforms, the official told reporters. 

Most of the projectiles fired are short-range ballistic missiles, but the airstrikes also include “a mix of medium-range as well as cruise missiles,” the official said. 

They added that the U.S. believes Kremlin troops have pushed closer to Kyiv since this morning, with Russian airborne troops believed to be Ukraine’s in second-largest city of Kharkiv. 

“We also have seen indications since we last talked of additional airborne troops into Kharkiv” in northeast Ukraine, the official said. “Our assessment is still that there’s active fighting going on there.” 

The U.S. has not yet observed “a push deeper or further into the West,” and has seen “occasions that some Ukrainian units are fighting back.” 

But they also noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet committed “a large proportion of the forces that he has available.”

 

Congress to receive in-person, classified briefing next week on Ukraine invasion

BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL

4:41 p.m.

Congress will receive an in-person, classified briefing from the Biden administration next week regarding the evolving situation between Russia and Ukraine, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Thursday.

Congress was also set to receive a briefing from the administration on Thursday.

Pelosi on Thursday also said the response from the U.S. and its allies against Russia “will be severe, ongoing and devastating for Russia, economically, diplomatically, and strategically.”

“President Biden has made clear throughout Russia’s escalation that we will continue to impose costs on Russia that will leave it weakened in every way. These include the further steps announced today of sweeping and catastrophic sanctions on financial institutions, companies and individuals critical to the Russian economy and of further military support to bolster NATO,” she added.

Pelosi said Russia launched a “premeditated war” against Ukraine that was “an attack on democracy and a grave violation of international law, global peace and security.”

“Putin’s unprovoked actions will cause devastating loss of life and a diminishing of Russia in the world order,” she added.

Nearly 200 Russian officials publicly condemn invasion of Ukraine

BY JOSEPH CHOI

Nearly 200 elected Russian officials issued an open letter to their constituents on Thursday, condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a letter titled “Against the war,” the officials said they “unequivocally condemn” what they referred to as an “unparalleled atrocity” that “cannot be justified.”

“The decision to attack was made personally by Russian President Vladimir Putin. We are convinced that Russian citizens did not give him such a mandate,” they said in the letter, which has been translated from Russian to English.

They warned that a war with Ukraine will result in “disastrous consequences” and thousands of people will be “killed, injured and maimed.”

“Our country will face condemnation by the international community, isolation, rising prices, and poverty. Hopes for a good life in Russia are crumbling before our eyes,” they continued. “We urge you not to participate in the aggression and not to approve of it. Please do not remain silent: only mass popular condemnation can stop the war.”

Most of the officials who added their names to the letter were city council members from the regions around Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the two largest Russian cities.

In addition to the Russian officials, hundreds of Russian scientists and scientific journalists similarly spoke out against war with Ukraine, saying in an open letter that a war was “unfair and frankly senseless.”

“There is no rational justification for this war. Attempts to use the situation in Donbass as a pretext for launching a military operation do not inspire any confidence. It is clear that Ukraine does not pose a threat to the security of our country,” they wrote. “The responsibility for unleashing a new war in Europe lies entirely with Russia.”

“Ukraine has been and remains a country close to us. Many of us have relatives, friends and scientific colleagues living in Ukraine. Our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought together against Nazism,” they added.

“Unleashing a war for the sake of the geopolitical ambitions of the leadership of the Russian Federation, driven by dubious historiosophical fantasies, is a cynical betrayal of their memory.”

UN Central Emergency Response Fund will allocate $20 million to Ukraine

BY LEXI LONAS

4:01 p.m.

The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund will allocate $20 million to support the people of Ukraine, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Thursday.

“With deaths rising, we are seeing images of fear, anguish and terror in every corner of Ukraine. People – everyday innocent people – always pay the highest price,” Guterres wrote in a statement. 

“Today I am announcing that we will immediately allocate $20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to meet urgent needs. We and our humanitarian partners are committed to staying and delivering, to support people in Ukraine in their time of need,” he added.

The announcement comes as the U.N. and U.S. have said they won’t provide troops on the ground in Ukraine but will pressure Russia with sanctions and provide aid to Ukraine during the attack.

Guterres pleaded with Russian President Vladimir Putin overnight to stop the assault on Ukraine.

“Under the present circumstances, I must change my appeal: President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia,” Guterres said. “This conflict must stop now.”

Graham on sanctions against Russia: ‘Time is NOT on our side’

JOSEPH CHOI 

3:50 p.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called for swift action against Russia on Thursday in response to its invasion of Ukraine, warning that “time is not on our side.” 

“When it comes to sanctions against Putin — If we are NOT doing everything possible, we are NOT doing enough. Time is NOT on our side,” Graham, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee wrote on Twitter.

He warned that how the U.S. handles Russian President Vladimir Putin would affect what happens in regions like Asia and the Middle East. 

The South Carolinian said he looked forward to working with “Republicans and Democrats to pass an emergency supplemental to help Ukraine.” 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) similarly voiced his support for heightened sanctions on Thursday, saying Biden should increase them “all the way up.” 

“Ratchet the sanctions all the way up. Don’t hold any back,” said McConnell. “Every single available tough sanction should be employed and should be employed now.  

President Biden earlier Thursday afternoon announced a new wave of sanctions against Russia and Belarus. The sanctions will target Russian bank holdings worth about $1 trillion in assets. 

Apart from financial institutions, the U.S. is also issuing export controls that will effect Russia’s ability to access U.S. technology like semiconductors, lasers and sensors. 

Biden warned that Russia’s actions against Ukraine would cost it “dearly.” 

Canada temporarily suspends operations at embassy, consulate in Ukraine

BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL

3:36 p.m.

Canada is temporarily suspending operations at its embassy and consulate in Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in the country.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced the suspension in a statement on Thursday, writing, “The situation in Ukraine has rapidly deteriorated and poses serious challenges.”

Joly said operations will resume “as soon as the security situation in Ukraine allows us to ensure the adequate delivery of services.”

“Consular services remain available to Canadians in Ukraine. Should there be a surge in demand for consular assistance, we are prepared. Our staff in Ottawa and major European cities are on standby to support as needed,” she added.

The foreign affairs minister urged Canadians to avoid travel to Ukraine and encouraged individuals already in the country to shelter in place until it is deemed safe for them to depart.

“The safety and security of all Canadians is our highest priority,” Joly emphasized.

Ukrainian ambassador says Russian platoon surrendered to Ukrainian forces

BY JOSEPH CHOI

3:17 p.m.

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova said on Thursday that a platoon of Russian soldiers surrendered to the Ukrainian military, saying they “didn’t know that they were brought to Ukraine to kill Ukrainians.”
 
At a press briefing, Markarova said, “Just before I came here, we got information from our chief commander that one of the platoons of the 74th motorized brigade from Kemerovo Oblast surrendered.”
 
“They didn’t know that they were brought to Ukraine to kill Ukrainians. They thought they were doing something else there,” she added.
 
Markarova was unable to say how many troops were in the platoon and did not say whether they were being detained by Ukraine.
 
Markarova said that the “combat spirit” of the Ukrainian military is “high.” 
 
The ambassador called on leaders of the free world to form an “anti-Putin coalition” to stop Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
 
“Ukraine is defending our home. We will defend out home and it’s time for all free and democratic nations who value the principles and the territorial integrity and the right of any country for peace to stand together with us, but not only stand together with us, act together with us to stop the war in Europe,” Markarova said.
 
When asked if she expected U.S. troops to be sent into Ukraine, Markarova noted that her country is not a part of security alliances such as NATO and said Ukraine does not expect any countries to fight on its behalf, though she said any help and peacekeeping operations would be welcome.
 

Zelensky calls for Russians to protest war in Ukraine

BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL

3:14 p.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday called for Russians to protest war in Ukraine, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion in his country. 

Zelensky, in a statement on Twitter, urged Russians “who have not yet lost their conscience” to protest war against Ukraine.

“We have severed diplomatic relations with Russia. For all those who have not yet lost their conscience in Russia, it is time to go out and protest against the war with Ukraine,” Zelensky wrote.

Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine early Thursday morning Moscow time, capping off weeks of speculation that Russia may be planning a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russia in recent weeks has amassed up to 190,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, heightening tensions in the region.

Russia on Thursday deployed airstrikes on Ukrainian cities and military bases and dispatched troops and tanks into the country, according to The Associated Press.

Ukrainian ambassador calls for ‘all the response the West can send us’

BY BRAD DRESS

3:09 p.m.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. requested “all the help and all the response the West can send us” on Thursday after Russia launched an invasion of her country.

At a news conference at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Oksana Markarova said the country would fight back aggressively against the Russia incursion but it needed Western nations to assist in any way possible.

“We are protecting our home and we will not stop,” she said, adding that “we call on the international community to act immediately … the future of the world order depends on this.”

The ambassador called for Russia to be banned from the SWIFT banking system, as well as “anything democratic countries” are included in.

“We don’t expect anyone to fight for us, but we expect all the help and all the response the west can send to us,” she said.

Markarova said Ukrainian forces are fighting on multiple fronts but managed to defeat a Russian platoon, which surrendered to Ukraine.

Iran calls NATO expansion ‘serious threat’ in call with Russia

BY LEXI LONAS

2:54 p.m.

Iran called NATO expansion into Eastern Europe a “serious threat” in a call with Russia on Thursday. 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the “serious threat” NATO expansion poses to the region’s stability, Nour News reported, according to Reuters.

“NATO’s expansion eastward creates tension and is a serious threat to the stability and security of independent states in various areas,” Raisi reportedly said.

“I hope what is happening will benefit peoples and the entire region,” he added.

Russia has received little support from the international community since it launched its invasion into Ukraine, with most major countries issuing sanctions against Moscow.

Biden: We will make Putin a ‘pariah’ on international stage

BY LAURA KELLY

2:46 p.m.

President Biden on Thursday said the U.S. will make sure Russian President Vladimir Putin becomes a “pariah on the international stage” for launching an invasion against Ukraine.

The president made his remarks from the East Room of the White House while announcing new sanctions on Russia that he said are aimed at forcing the Kremlin to pull back its troops or risk Russia moving toward being “a second rate power.” 

“The United States and our allies and partners will emerge from this stronger, more united, more determined and more purposeful,” Biden said. “Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will end up costing Russia dearly, economically and strategically. We will make sure that Putin will be a pariah on the international stage.”

The president further warned that countries that fail to separate themselves from Putin “will be stained by association.”

“The history of this era is written. Putin’s choice to make a totally unjustifiable war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.” 

Biden: No plans to speak with Putin 

BY BRETT SAMUELS

2:30 p.m. 

President Biden on Thursday said he had no plans to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid what he called a “complete rupture” in relations between the two countries after Russia invaded Ukraine overnight.

“There is a complete rupture right now in U.S.-Russia relations if they continue on this path they’re on,” Biden after announcing additional sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Ukraine.

Asked about the risk of another Cold War, Biden noted “the vast majority of the rest of the world” is united in opposition to Putin’s attacks on Ukraine.

“So it’s going to be a cold day for Russia. … You don’t see a whole lot of people coming to his defense,” Biden said.

Thousands of Ukrainians taking shelter in subway stations

BY BRAD DESS

2:17 p.m.

Thousands of Ukrainians have taken shelter in subway stations as Russia continues its invasion into Ukraine.

Hundreds of residents of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine huddled inside a subway station and in stalled trains, MSNBC reported on the scene. Ukrainian citizens told an MSNBC reporter they have nowhere to go.

CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward also reported from a Kharkiv subway station, broadcasting video footage showing crowds of people packed together in the subway.

“These people are frightened, they’re confused, they are desperately uncertain about what they are supposed to do, how long they can take shelter here, where they can go from here,” Ward said.

In Kyiv, the capitol of Ukraine, subway stations have been turned into bunkers, CNN reported.

IOC ‘strongly condemns’ Russia’s breach of Olympic Truce

BY OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN

2:14 p.m.

The International Olympic Committee has condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, saying Moscow has broken the Olympic Truce. 

“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) strongly condemns the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government,” the IOC said in a statement on Thursday. 

“The respective UN resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 December 2021 by consensus of all 193 UN Member States. The Olympic Truce began seven days before the start of the Olympic Games, on 4 February 2022, and ends seven days after the closing of the Paralympic Games.”

IOC President Thomas Bach also reiterated his call for peace.

“Following recent events, the IOC is deeply concerned about the safety of the Olympic Community in Ukraine,” the committee said. “It has established a task force to closely monitor the situation and to coordinate humanitarian assistance to members of the Olympic Community in Ukraine where possible.”

German chancellor vows Putin ‘will not win’

BY OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN

2:11 p.m.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will not win” with his current invasion of Ukraine, according to The Associated Press. 

In a televised address, Scholz said “we will not accept this violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty by Russia,” vowing to imply severe sanctions against Russia alongside his allies. 

Scholz also said in his address that Putin is “on his own” with his invasion of Ukraine, suggesting Russian citizens did not choose to go to war against Ukraine.

“[Putin] is on his own. It was not the Russian people who decided to go to war. He alone bears full responsibility for it. This war is Putin’s war,” Scholz said.

Scholz added in his address that “Putin should not underestimate NATO’s determination to defend all its members. That applies explicitly to our NATO partners in the Baltic states, in Poland and in Romania, in Bulgaria and in Slovakia. Without ifs and buts. Germany and its allies know how to protect themselves.”

Biden says US will sanction Russian banks, impose export controls

BY MORGAN CHALFANT

2:07 p.m.

President Biden on Thursday said the U.S. would sanction major Russian banks and impose export controls on Russia to curtail Russian high-tech imports, as part of a coordinated effort within allies to penalize the Kremlin for its military attack against Ukraine. 

In remarks from the East Room of the White House, Biden said the sanctions would target Russian banks holding a combined $1 trillion in assets, including VTB Bank. He said the U.S. would also impose sanctions on additional Russian elites with links to the Kremlin. 

Biden condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for ordering the attack against Ukraine and said that his actions would cost Russia “dearly.”

“Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war and now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said. 

U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson unveils Russia sanctions 

BY MORGAN CHALFANT 

1:28 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that the country planned to impose sanctions on major Russian banks, including a full asset freeze on Russia’s VTB Bank.   

Johnson told members of Parliament that the sanctions package would be the “largest and most severe package of economic sanctions that Russia has never seen.”   

He said it would include an asset freeze on all major Russian banks and a ban on Russian state and private companies from raising funds in the United Kingdom.

Johnson said he also planned to limit the amount of money that Russian nationals can deposit into their banking accounts in the U.K.   

The measures also include new trade restrictions and export controls.  

Additionally, he said the U.K. would impose sanctions on Belarus for its role in the current crisis. Russia has been conducting joint military exercises with Belarus as it amassed as many as 190,000 troops in and around Ukraine.  

In total, Johnson said that 100 new entities and individuals would be sanctioned in response to Russia’s military attack, which began late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. 

Johnson’s remarks came roughly an hour before President Biden was due to speak about U.S. sanctions on Moscow. The U.S. response is expected to mirror that of U.K. and other European allies.  

Russians protest despite threats of arrest

BY LEXI LONAS

1:26 p.m.

Russians are protesting in Moscow, St. Petersburg and across the country despite threats of arrests from the government.

Multiple videos have been posted online of Russian citizens in various cities protesting Russia’s attack on Ukraine, chanting “No to war.”

OVD-Info, a protest monitoring group, says more than 1,100 have been arrested so far in Russia since the invasion.

In Moscow, at least 600 people have been apprehended by the police for supporting Ukraine and condemning Russia. 

The arrests come after The Investigative Committee of Russia released a statement Thursday threatening legal actions against protesters. 

“The law provides for severe punishment for organizing mass riots, as well as for resisting law enforcement officers. According to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, people who committed such illegal acts may face imprisonment,” the committee wrote. 

Protests have erupted around the world in support of Ukraine while Russian President Vladimir Putin claims he is attacking Ukraine for his people.

UK suspends Russian airline from operating in airspace

BY LAURA KELLY

1:26 p.m.

The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority on Thursday suspended Russian state airline Aeroflot from operating flights to or from the United Kingdom, a spokesperson said.   

“Following the announcement by the Prime Minister in Parliament today, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has suspended the foreign carrier permit held by Aeroflot Russia Airlines (Aeroflot) until further notice,” the statement read.

“This means that Aeroflot will not be permitted to operate flights to or from the United Kingdom until further notice”.

Russian financial index closes 33 percent lower

By MYCHAEL SCHNELL

1:21 p.m.

Russia’s chief financial index, MOEX, closed 33 percent lower on Thursday after President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine, according to CNN.

Earlier on Thursday the index had plummeted 45 percent, according to CNN.

The financial free fall comes as President Biden prepares to unveil additional sanctions against Russia following the attack on Ukraine. A White House official told reporters in a statement late Wednesday that Biden on Thursday will announce the “further consequences” the U.S. and its allies will impose on Russia following the military operation.

Large Russian energy companies and banks were among the groups that saw the biggest losses on Thursday, according to CNN. Energy company Gazprom fell 38 percent, oil company Rosneft crashed 40 percent, and banks VTB and Sberbank fell by more than 40 percent, according to CNN.

The ruble is down 7 percent against the U.S. dollar, according to the network.

Russian forces take Chernobyl: reports

By JOSEPH CHOI

1:15 p.m.

Russian forces have reportedly taken control of the Chernobyl nuclear site after brief fighting with Ukrainian troops.

Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that control over Chernobyl has been lost, according to multiple news outlets.

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, appeared to confirm this development.

“It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians,” Podolyak said, according to Reuters. “This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today.”

US officially moves Ukraine embassy operations to Poland

BY SARAKSHI RAI

12:45 p.m.

The State Department confirmed Thursday that U.S. Embassy operations in Ukraine have been officially suspended following the Ukrainian government’s declaration of an emergency amid the Russian invasion.

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill that the core team previously working from Lviv is temporarily working from Poland.

“They remain there and are not currently traveling over the border to Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.

“We will continually assess the security situation to determine when it may be safe for U.S. government personnel to return to Ukraine to conduct diplomacy on the ground and provide in-person consular services,” the spokesperson added.

The U.S. last week had already relocated the embassy’s operations from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv to Lviv, which is in western Ukraine and farther away from the country’s border with Russia. 

Lithuania announces state of emergency amid Russian attack

BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL

12:37 p.m.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda announced a state of emergency on Thursday, after Russian forces launched a military operation in Ukraine.

The state of emergency will last for two weeks, according to Reuters. The country’s parliament is set to meet on Thursday to either confirm or cancel Nausėda’s declaration.

Nausėda also ordered the Lithuanian army to position itself on the country’s borders because of “possible disturbances and provocations due to large military forces massed in Russia and Belarus,” according to Reuters. Lithuania is a member of NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine early Thursday morning Moscow time, a move that came amid heightened tensions in the region.

Lithuania borders Belarus and Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave.

Hundreds of Russian anti-war protesters arrested

BY LEXI LONAS

12:34 p.m.

Russian authorities have arrested hundreds of anti-war protesters, according to OVD-Info, a protest monitoring group.

In 40 cities across Russia, more than 700 people have been detained for protesting Russia’s attack on Ukraine. 

The Investigative Committee of Russia on Thursday warned citizens against protesting, saying they could face legal consequences. 

“The law provides for severe punishment for organizing mass riots, as well as for resisting law enforcement officers. According to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, people who committed such illegal acts may face imprisonment,” the committee wrote. 

Russia’s attack has sparked protests around the world in front of Russian embassies as the international community condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia claims 74 Ukrainian military facilities destroyed in airstrikes

BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL

11:49 a.m.

Russia is claiming that its airstrikes have destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities.

Russian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Igor Konashenkov on Thursday said roughly 18 radio-locating stations used for anti-aircraft missile systems, 11 airfields, three command centers and a naval base were destroyed, according to ABC News.

Konashenkov reportedly said the strikes did not target social facilities located at Ukrainian military garrisons, including homes, residential buildings and barracks. He added that the targeting is meant to minimize casualties of servicemen and their families.

Konashenkov also revealed that a Russian assault aircraft crashed in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, according to ABC News. He claimed that the incident occurred because of “pilot error.”

“The pilot safely ejected and is at his military garrison now,” Konashenkov said.

UK foreign secretary warns of ‘huge’ cost for Russia over invasion of Ukraine

BY LAURA KELLY

11:41 a.m.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Thursday summoned the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Andrey Kelin, and warned him that the Russian government faced a “a huge human, economic and political cost” for launching an unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine.

“The Foreign Secretary said the Russian government had repeatedly lied about having no plans to invade Ukraine, and its unprovoked aggression had made it an international pariah,” the U.K. Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Truss called on Russia to withdraw its troops and condemned “Russia’s outrageous attack on Ukraine as a clear breach of international law” and “reiterated there would be severe sanctions in retribution for the invasion, which will inflict pain on the Russian economy and those closely associated with the Kremlin.”

Kyiv Post hit by cyberattacks

BY INES KAGUBARE

11:37 a.m.

Ukraine’s English-language newspaper, the Kyiv Post, said in a tweet on Thursday that its website was hit by cyberattacks following Russia’s launch of a full-scale military invasion of the country.

“Our main Kyiv Post site has been under constant cyber attack today from the moment Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine,” the newspaper said in a tweet. “We are and will be, doing our best to keep you informed in this difficult time.”

The attack on the newspaper comes a day after several Ukrainian government websites, including the foreign affairs and defense ministries, were down following cyberattacks. The Biden administration suspects that Russian government hackers are behind the attacks, though Russia has denied any involvement.

US defense official: Attacks are ‘initial phase’ of ‘large-scale’ Russian invasion

BY ELLEN MITCHELL

11:33 a.m.

Russia’s early morning attacks on Ukraine are an “initial phase” of a “large-scale” invasion into the country, a senior defense official said Thursday.  

“It is likely that you will see this unfold in multiple phases. How many? How long? We don’t know. But what we’re seeing are initial phases of a large-scale invasion,” the official told reporters in an off-camera call.  

“They’re making a move on Kyiv,” the official added. 

Russia began its attack on Ukraine with missile launches around 9:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday. More than 100 Russian-launched missiles of various types were used in the “initial onslaught,” with short-range ballistic missiles being the primary weapon, the official said.  

The Kremlin fired medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and sea-launch missiles from the Black Sea.  

Russian troops have since invaded Ukraine from three sides, which the official described as “three main axes of assault”: one from the south, “from Crimea to a city named Kherson”; one from north central Ukraine to the south, “from Belarus to Kyiv”; and a third from the northeast of Ukraine to the south, from Belarus toward Kharkiv. 

“It’s our assessment that they have every intention of basically decapitating the government and installing their own method of governance, which would explain these early moves towards Kyiv,” the official said.  

Moldova says borders are open for fleeing Ukrainians

BY LEXI LONAS

11:25 a.m.

Moldova said on Thursday its borders are open for fleeing Ukrainians amid a Russian invasion in their country.

President Maia Sandu shared pictures of camps for refugees and said 4,000 Ukrainians entered Moldova.

“First citizens arrive in , with over 4000 crossings today. The govt has deployed temporary placement centers near Palanca and Ocnița. Our borders are open for citizens who need safe transit or stay,” Sandu tweeted.

Moldova is one of several European countries that have offered support to Ukrainian refugees after Russia attacked Ukraine overnight. 

Kyiv mayor announces curfew

BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL

11:21 a.m.

Kyiv will be under an evening curfew as the Russian military continues its attack on Ukraine, the city’s mayor announced.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a Thursday statement on Facebook that the capital city will be under curfew between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. local time. Public transportation will not run during that time but metro stations will be available as shelters 24/7.

“We ask all Kyivites to return home on time,” Klitschko said, according to CNN. “If you need to move around the city during the curfew, in particular, as employees of critical infrastructure companies, you must have identification documents.”

The mayor said the curfew is necessary to keep residents of Kyiv safe. 

Ukraine calls for Russia to be expelled from SWIFT

BY JOSEPH CHOI

11:16 a.m.

Ukraine is calling for Russia to be expelled from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a Belgian financial institution that is used for global financial transactions.

“We demand the disconnection of Russia from SWIFT, the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine and other effective steps to stop the aggressor,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter.

Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, “I will not be diplomatic on this. Everyone who now doubts whether Russia should be banned from SWIFT has to understand that the blood of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children will be on their hands too. BAN RUSSIA FROM SWIFT.”

Early reports have indicated that European leaders are hesitant to take such an action, which would hit Russian banks hard.

Citing sources from the European Union, Reuters reported that cutting Russia off from SWIFT is unlikely, as it would make it difficult for European creditors to get their money back and Russia has already been building an alternative payment system.

“Urgency and consensus is utmost priority at the moment,” one unidentified EU diplomat told the news service, while another said they were “not aware of an agreement [on SWIFT sanctions] at this point.”

G-7 meeting concludes

BY BRETT SAMUELS

11:03 a.m.

A meeting of the Group of Seven (G-7) leaders about Russia’s attack on Ukraine wrapped up at 10:27 a.m. ET, a White House official said.

President Biden was joined on the call by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

The leaders of the European Commission and European Council were also on the call, as was NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The group discussed a coordinated response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Biden is expected to announce additional sanctions on Russia during an afternoon speech.

Finland says debate on NATO membership ‘will change’ after Russian invasion

BY LEXI LONAS

11:01 a.m.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday said Russia’s attack on Ukraine will change the debate around NATO membership within her country.

“Finland is not currently facing an immediate military threat, but it is also now clear that the debate on NATO membership in Finland will change,” Marin said, YLE News reported.

Finland has been debating for months whether the country should apply for NATO membership, with Marin saying it would require broad support for the country to move forward with an application. 

Finland and Sweden, who are both not officially members of NATO, will be at a summit the alliance will host Friday.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö condemned Russia’s attack and President Vladimir Putin, saying “The mask has now come off and only the cold face of war is visible,” according to YLE.

Russian forces enter Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukrainian officials say

BY OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN

10:49 a.m.

Top Ukrainian officials said that Russian forces have entered the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone after Moscow launched an invasion of its neighbor.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and top adviser Anton Gerashchenko said Russian occupation forces are attempting to seize the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, adding that defense is already in place to fight off the attempt.

“Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the #Chornobyl_NPP. Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated,” Zelensky said in a tweet. “Reported this to @SwedishPM. This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”

“If the invaders artillery hits and ruins / damages the collectors of nuclear waste , radioactive nuclear dust can be spread over the territory of Ukraine, Belarus and the country of the EU!” Gerashchenko wrote in a Facebook post.

Warner on Russian invasion: ‘The intelligence has been totally correct’

BY BRAD DRESS

10:44 a.m.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Thursday said the U.S. intelligence community has been “totally correct” in predicting a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The intelligence community — not just ours, but the British and others — have been very forward-leaning,” Warner said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We’ve said specific dates. This is playing out exactly as our intelligence community has projected.”

Warner said his “gravest, immediate concern” is the possibility of Russia launching large cyberattacks against Ukraine that shut down power in eastern Poland, where U.S. troops are located.

“We’ve never seen a full-fledged cyber conflict between NATO and a tier one cyber power the way Russia is. You go down that rabbit hole, and nobody knows where it might lead,” he said. “We are in uncharted territory, and I think we all ought to buckle up.” 

Ukrainians trickling into Poland

BY BRAD DRESS

10:39 a.m.

Seeking safety, Ukrainians are fleeing to Poland after Russia invaded the country on Thursday.

Poland’s health minister, Adam Niedzielski, told Polish news outlet Wiadomości the country had 120 hospital beds ready for refugees and a special medical train to transport patients.

“Poland is their first stop and it must be assumed that for many it may be a destination,” the health minister said.

Dozens of refugees have already fled into the town of Medyka at the Poland-Ukraine border, Reuters reported.

“I don’t have any feelings other than that I am very scared,” Alexander Bazhanov, who fled his home in eastern Ukraine with his wife and child, told Reuters. “I will visit my father in Spain but I don’t have any money and I don’t know how I will do that.”

Slovakia sending troops to Ukraine border to aid refugees

BY OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN

10:34 a.m.

Officials in Slovakia said troops will be sent to the Ukraine border in an effort to aid refugees amid the ongoing Russian invasion, Reuters reported.

Multiple media outlets reported on Thursday that 1,500 Slovakian troops are going to the border and the country is also preparing to increase the number of border crossings. 

Biden to speak about Russia’s attack against Ukraine

BY MORGAN CHALFANT

10:07 a.m.

President Biden is slated to deliver a speech to the nation about “Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine” at 12:30 p.m. ET, the White House said in updated guidance.

Biden’s speech will come after he met with Group of Seven leaders about the crisis on the morning after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military attack against Ukraine.

Biden is expected to announce further sanctions on Russia during the address, which he will give from the East Room of the White House.

The Biden administration is expected to target large Russian financial institutions and Russian oligarchs in the next round of sanctions. Biden has faced calls to impose the harshest possible penalties on Russia, including by cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international banking system.

The White House says that the sanctions have been coordinated with European allies.  

Stocks plunge, oil hits $100 per barrel as Russia invades Ukraine

BY SYLVAN LANE

10:06 a.m.

The U.S. stock market opened with heavy losses Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an attack on Ukraine, triggering international condemnation and another round of bruising financial sanctions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened with a loss of more than 800 points, falling 2.4 percent. The Nasdaq composite was down 2.2 percent, and the S&P 500 index opened with a loss of 2.1 percent.

Oil prices also continued to climb overnight as investors braced for a major disruption to global energy markets.

Biden meets with G-7 leaders

BY BRETT SAMUELS

9:57 a.m.

President Biden met virtually on Thursday morning with members of the Group of Seven (G-7) alliance to discuss next steps after Russia invaded Ukraine overnight.

“President Biden and Leaders are discussing their joint response to President Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine,” a White House official said in a statement.

The meeting began at 9:17 a.m. ET, the official said.

Biden is expected to deliver remarks later Thursday following the meeting with members of the G-7 to detail sanctions on Russia after it launched attacks on Ukraine after months of military build-up.

Other G-7 heads of state, such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and leaders of the European Union, have also pledged to enact sanctions in a bid to squeeze the Russian economy and isolate the Kremlin.

Kremlin critic Navalny condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

BY SARAKSHI RAI

9:55 a.m.

Kremlin critic Alexsei Navalny on Thursday condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine and said Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion to distract from the country’s internal problems. 

“This war between Russia and Ukraine was unleashed to cover up the theft from Russian citizens and divert their attention from problems that exist inside the country,” Navalny, who is currently imprisoned in Moscow, said, Radio Free Europe reported. 

He added war with Ukraine would “lead to a huge number of victims, destroyed futures, and the continuation of this line of impoverishment of the citizens of Russia.”

“I am against this war,” he said.

The opposition leader has been criticizing Putin’s and the Russian Security Council’s decisions on Twitter, saying the military operation in Ukraine was a way to divert Russians’ attention from real problems, including the development of the economy, rising prices, lawlessness — and switching it to what he called the format of “imperial hysteria.”

“All this ended very badly for everyone in 1979. And it will end just as badly now. Afghanistan was destroyed, but the USSR also received a mortal wound,” he said.

Navalny was detained in January 2021 upon returning to Russia from Germany, where he was recovering after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in August 2020. The U.S. and other allies blamed Russia for the poisoning. Putin has denied any involvement.

Russia claims he broke his parole by leaving the country for treatment in Germany, and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. 

EU summons Russian ambassador over Ukraine invasion

BY LAURA KELLY

9:45 a.m.

The European Union on Thursday summoned the Russian ambassador to demand Russian President Vladimir Putin cease military operations in Ukraine immediately.

Putin earlier Thursday launched an invasion of Ukraine.

The secretary general of the European External Action Service, Stefano Sannino condemned “the unprovoked, unjustified invasion of Ukraine by armed forces of the Russian Federation” in a meeting with Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov in Brussels.

“Secretary General Sannino informed Ambassador Chizhov that the EU’s firm response to the Russian aggression will be decided at today’s extraordinary meeting of the European Council, and will include a new, hard-hitting package of restrictive measures, both sectorial and individual, fully coordinated with the EU’s  transatlantic and like-minded partners,” the EU press office said in a statement.

Russian stocks plummet amid attack on Ukraine

BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL

9:37 a.m.

Russian stocks crashed Thursday morning after the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, ordered a military operation in Ukraine.

The MOEX index fell by as much as 45 percent Thursday morning, according to CNN. The RTS index, which is measured in dollars, was down 37 percent as of 7:15 a.m. Eastern, according to the network.

The plummet in prices reportedly caused the value of Russia’s largest companies to fall by $70 billion.

The Moscow exchange temporarily halted all trading on Thursday. When it reopened, stocks plummeted.

The value of the ruble also fell to 84 to the dollar, according to CNN, which was a 3 percent decline.

Kremlin falsely claims Ukraine needs to be ‘cleansed of Nazis’

BY LEXI LONAS

9:34 a.m.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s false claim that Ukraine needs to be “cleansed of Nazis” by Moscow’s military.

“Ukraine should ideally be freed, cleansed of Nazis,” Peskov said after Russia attacked Ukraine. “The president explained in the address to Russians, this is all truly dictated by our national interests and dictated by care for the future of our country.”

Russia is claiming the attack is to protect citizens while the international community condemns and has vowed consequences for the invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with the Russian people before the Wednesday attack, telling them not to believe what they are told about Ukrainians from their government. 

“You are told we are Nazis,” Zelensky said. “But can a people support Nazis that gave more than eight million lives for the victory over Nazism? How can I be a Nazi? Tell my grandpa, who went through the whole war in the infantry of the Soviet Army and died as a colonel in independent Ukraine.”

German commander says his army is ‘more or less powerless’

BY JOSEPH CHOI

9:28 a.m.

Lt. Gen. Alfons Mais, chief of the German army, on Thursday said his forces are “more or less powerless” and would only be able to offer limited support to their allies as countries around the world react to Russia attacking Ukraine.

“In my 41st year of service in peace, I would not have thought I would have had to experience another war,” Mais said in a LinkedIn post. “And the Bundeswehr, the army that I am allowed to lead, is more or less powerless. The options we can offer policymakers to support the Alliance are extremely limited.”

“We all saw it coming and were not able to get through with our arguments, to draw the conclusions from the Crimean annexation and implement them. This does not feel good! I am pissed off!” Mais added.

Though NATO territory has not been directly threatened yet, Mais said Germany’s partners in Eastern Europe were beginning to feel “constantly growing pressure.”

UN refugee agency: Ukrainians starting to flee their homes

BY REBECCA BEITSCH

9:22 a.m.

The United Nations’ refugee agency said Thursday it is seeing Ukrainians begin to flee their homes amid the Russian invasion.

“We have already seen reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety. Civilian lives and civilian infrastructure must be protected and safeguarded at all times, in line with International Humanitarian Law,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.

Images of Ukrainian highways near Kyiv showed roadways flooded as people left the capital city following explosions and the movement of Russian tanks from the nearby border with Belarus.

U.S. intelligence agencies previously assessed a Russian invasion could spur anywhere from 1 million to 5 million people to leave their homes.

Such a movement could overwhelm neighboring countries, many of which have historically been averse to accepting refugees.

“UNHCR is also working with governments in neighboring countries, calling on them to keep borders open to those seeking safety and protection. We stand ready to support efforts by all to respond to any situation of forced displacement,” Grande said.

France’s Macron: Russia assault a ‘turning point’ in European history

BY OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN

9:14 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Russia’s attack on Ukraine is a “turning point” in the history of Europe, The Washington Post reported.  

In a televised address on Thursday, Macron said the invasion “will have lasting and deep consequences on our lives.”

Macron, who was standing in front of a Ukrainian flag alongside a French and a European Union flag during his address, said France, along with its allies, “will respond without weakness.”

“The sanctions imposed on Russia will be commensurate with the aggression it is guilty of,” he said. 

Macron called the move the “most serious damage to peace and stability” the continent has seen in decades.

Biden convenes meeting of National Security Council

BY MORGAN CHALFANT

9:06 a.m.

President Biden met with his National Security Council early Thursday after Russia launched a large-scale military attack against Ukraine, according to the White House.

“The President convened a meeting of the National Security Council this morning in the Situation Room to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine,” a White House official said.

The meeting preceded Biden’s planned call with Group of Seven leaders, which was also scheduled to discuss the Ukraine crisis before Russia launched its attack late Wednesday.

Biden is expected to deliver remarks later Thursday laying out further penalties on Russia.

Biden issued a statement late Wednesday after Russia announced plans to launch a military operation against Ukraine, condemning it as an “unprovoked and unjustified attack” and pledging the U.S. and its allies would impose consequences.

EARLIER THURSDAY MORNING:

Ukrainian presidential adviser says West ‘must act today’

BY MONIQUE BEALS

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that the West must respond Thursday with tough sanctions against Russia following Moscow’s attack in Ukraine.

“The main thing now is to focus as much as possible on defending the country and preserving people’s normal lives,” Podolyak told CNN.

“But Ukraine needs more support from the world and is very specific — military-technical and financial support, tough sanctions against Russia. The West must act today.”

Podolyak said that the attack meant “full-fledged large-scale war has begun in Europe.”

“Russia is attacking not just Ukraine, but all the rules of normal life in the modern world. What will be left of the security system on the continent? Zero,” he added.

The U.S. and its allies have already imposed sanctions on Russia as a result of its attack on Ukraine, with more likely.

After Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine early Thursday morning, President Biden condemned the invasion and voiced solidarity with Ukraine.

Biden is expected to unveil the additional sanctions on Thursday in coordination with European allies after a morning meeting with Group of Seven allies.

Leaders from the European Union also said that they would “impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its actions,” adding that the sanctions would be “designed to take a heavy toll on the Kremlin’s ability to finance war.” 

Hungary defense minister says country prepared for Ukraine refugees

BY LEXI LONAS

Hungary’s defense minister said on Wednesday the country is prepared to take Ukrainian refugees after Russia’s invasion.

Defense Minister Tibor Benkő told ATV News the country will open sections of the borders where refugees are fleeing and provide aid when they get to Hungary, Hungary Today reported.

Refugees will be processed and handled differently whether they come to the border armed, sick or wounded.

“We’re not trying to bring them into large refugee camps with everyone being sent to one spot, everyone, in accordance with their situation, must be sent to the most appropriate and best-fitting surroundings,” Benkő said.

Bush calls Russian attack ‘the gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II’

BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL

Former President George W. Bush sharply condemned Russia’s military operation in Ukraine on Thursday, calling the attack “the gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine early Thursday morning Moscow time, the culmination of weeks of speculation that Russia was planning an invasion of Ukraine. Russia in recent weeks amassed up to 190,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, stoking fears in the U.S. and among allies.

Bush, in a statement on Thursday, called the attack an “unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine” and knocked Putin for launching it, writing that the U.S. “cannot tolerate the authoritarian bullying and danger that Putin poses.”

“The American government and people must stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as they seek freedom and the right to choose their own future,” Bush wrote.

“Ukraine is our friend and democratic ally and deserves our full support during this most difficult time,” he later added.

UK’s Boris Johnson says ‘our worst fears have now come true’

BY LEXI LONAS

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed his country on Thursday regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Our worst fears have now come true and all our warnings have proved tragically accurate,” Johnson said, noting he has spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“President Putin of Russia has unleashed war in our European continent. He has attacked a friendly country without any provocation and without any credible excuse,” Johnson added. “Diplomatically, politically, economically — and eventually, militarily — this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure.”

Johnson said the United Kingdom will implement economic sanctions Thursday that will aim to “hobble the Russian economy.”

NATO adding troops in Eastern Europe after Russia attack on Ukraine

BY RACHEL SCULLY

NATO on Thursday said it would take steps to boost deterrence and defense after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine.

The military alliance is putting more than 100 warplanes on high alert and increasing its presence on its eastern flank, according to Reuters.

EU says it will ‘hold the Kremlin accountable’ for attack on Ukraine

BY MONIQUE BEALS

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that the European Union would “hold the Kremlin accountable” for Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” she said on Twitter.

“We will hold the Kremlin accountable,” von der Leyen added in a tweet.

Roads blocked in Kyiv as residents flee

BY RACHEL SCULLY

A massive traffic jam blocked a main road out in Kyiv on Thursday, hampering Ukrainians’ efforts to evacuate the capital as Russia launched attacks against multiple cities in the nation.

Vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, Reuters reported. People were seen carrying bags and suitcases as they looked for a way out of Kyiv.

Zelensky: Ukraine cuts diplomatic ties with Russia after invasion

BY MAUREEN BRESLIN

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday announced his country was cutting diplomatic ties with Moscow amid Russia’s military invasion into Ukraine, according to The New York Times.

Zelensky made the announcement as an adviser said that more than 40 Ukrainian soldiers had died in the assault and several more had been wounded, notes the Times.

Ukrainian officials say Russian helicopters attacked military airport near capital

BY MONIQUE BEALS

Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that Russian forces attacked Gostomel, a military airport near Kyiv.

The officials added that Ukraine shot down three Russian helicopters in the attack, according to Reuters.

Airlines warned not to fly near Ukraine

BY MAUREEN BRESLIN

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is warning airlines not to fly over or near Ukraine as Russia attacks its neighbor, Reuters reports.

“In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft,” the EASA warned in a conflict zone bulletin, according to the news service.

“The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a high risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels,” the agency added.

Updated at 4:14 p.m.

Tags Antony Blinken Boris Johnson Charles Schumer conflict Emmanuel Macron invasion Janet Yellen Jen Psaki Joe Biden Justin Trudeau Kevin McCarthy Lindsey Graham Live coverage Lloyd Austin Mark Milley Mark Warner Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Russia Russia Russia-Ukraine conflict Ukraine Ukraine Vladimir Putin

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