Russia today launched a military operation in Ukraine over demands for an end to NATO’s eastward expansion. Explosions were heard from Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine after the Russian announcement.
In a nationally televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had decided to launch a military operation to “defend separatists” in eastern Ukraine. Warning against foreign interference, he said Russia will “aim for demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine.” As Putin spoke, big explosions were heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv and other areas of Ukraine. Later, air sirens went off in Kyiv, indicating that the city is under attack, say reports.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused the Russian President of launching a “full-scale invasion” as explosions were heard in cities around the country. “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes,” he said in a tweet.
Dmytro Kuleba added that the country will defend itself from Putin’s “war of aggression.”
Vladimir Putin’s announcement came just hours ahead of a special emergency session in the UN Security Council. The meeting was scheduled after he recognised the independence of Ukraine’s breakaway regions.
Putin has also recognised the independence of the Ukraine breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk and signed friendship treaties with them. The Donetsk and Luhansk separatists reportedly hold about 30 percent of the territory of the two Ukrainian regions as of Wednesday, with the rest under the control of government forces.
India has asked “all sides” to exercise “utmost restraint”, saying the mounting crisis can only be resolved through diplomatic dialogue.
Citing a “potential hazard to civil aviation”, Ukraine issued a NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) around 7.30 am IST restricting all civilian flights to the region. An Air India flight, meant to evacuate Indian citizens from Kyiv, left from Delhi a few minutes after the NOTAM was issued, but will return considering the restrictions. At 10.30 am IST, the flight was in Iranian airspace.
The Indian Embassy issued an important advisory for all Indian nationals in Ukraine that those travelling to Kyiv, are advised to return to respective cities temporarily, especially towards safer places along with western bordering countries. Around 20,000 Indians are studying MBBS in Ukraine. Every day, around 150-200 are coming back to India. Air India’s Thursday flight is the second flight being operated by the airline to bring back Indians from the eastern European nation. The first flight, operated on February 22, brought back around 240 people.