On Thursday, Ukrainian troops engaged in combat with Russian invaders on three sides following the Moscow declaration of war, the most significant attack on a European state since World War 2. It evoked tens of thousands of civilians to seek refuge and abandon their homes.
Exchanges of explosions and gunfire occurred throughout the day in the capital of Ukraine and elsewhere in the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war in a pre-dawn televised address. According to reports, there are already over 70 deaths.
The declaration of war hauled a disastrous conclusion to weeks of futile diplomatic talks between Western officials and Russian leaders to avoid a military battle over significant Russian demands for a revision of post-Cold War security plans in Europe.
“This is a premeditated attack,” said US President Joe Biden in a press conference at the White House as he disclosed severe new sanctions, in unison with allies, against Russian banks, oligarchs, and state companies.
“Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,” he added.
Putin stated in his address that he had commanded: “a special military operation” to safeguard people, counting Russian civilians, subjected to “genocide” in Ukraine—an allegation the West says is groundless propaganda.
“And for this, we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine,” said Putin.
Late on Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky commanded a general mobilization, to be implemented within 90 days, “to ensure the defense of the state.”
According to the Ukrainian presidential adviser, the Russian troops have seized control over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The plant is only 90 km (60 miles) north of Kyiv and is the shortest passage from the capital to Belarus, where Moscow has positioned forces.
Just outside Kyiv, there was also a battle at Hostomel airport, where Russian forces landed. They had recovered the airfield, said a Ukrainian officer later. However, a senior US defense official said Russian troops were moving into Kyiv.
On Thursday, it was disclosed by the health minister of Ukraine that 57 people died and 169 were wounded, as well as 13 border guards’ deaths, said the interior ministry.