(Update 1: Adds information, details, edits throughout. Updates headline, lede)
International Desk, Feb 24 (EFE).- As explosions were reported across the Ukraine on Thursday, the country’s leader appealed to international allies to help stop the attack on its territory ordered by the Russian president in the early hours of the morning.
In a televised address at 5 am Kiev time, Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced a “military operation” in eastern Ukraine, which was followed by Kiev officials declaring soon after that “a full-scale invasion” by Moscow had begun.
After Russian troops forced their way into the country, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that “the world must force Russia into peace.”
“Urge to stop Putin, war against Ukraine & the world immediately! Building an anti-Putin coalition. Immediate sanctions, defense & financial support to Ukraine! Close the airspace!” he demanded.
Throughout the morning, social media posts showed Ukrainians queuing at ATMs and traffic streaming out of the capital as air-raid sirens sounded.
Explosions were reported across the country in Kiev, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Dnipro, Odesa, Slavayansk and Kramatorsk.
In a video statement, Zelenskyy reported bombings of infrastructure and said he was introducing martial law across the country.
“Russia is delivering strikes on our military infrastructure, on our border guards. Explosions are being heard in many cities of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.
“No need to panic. We are strong. We are ready for everything. We will defeat everyone because we are Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine.”
Kiev reported border breaches at multiple points, with the country’s state Border Guard Service reporting on Facebook that the border was “attacked by Russian troops supported by Belarus (…) with the use of artillery, heavy equipment and firearms,” adding an attack was also taking place in Crimea where at least one border guard died in shelling.
Ukraine also reported Russian troops crossing at Kharkiv and Luhansk.
In a statement quoted by the Interfax news agency, the Russian defense ministry claimed to have neutralized Ukraine’s anti-aircraft defense and destroyed the infrastructure of the country’s air bases.
Kiev recommended its population to evacuate from Donbas and ordered the closure of its airspace.
Russia also closed its airspace to civil aircraft on its western border with Ukraine and Belarus, according to a notice issued by Russian aviation authorities.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) designated Ukraine as an active conflict zone, with there is a risk “that civil aircraft are deliberately targeted or misidentified.”
“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,” EASA said.
The invasion came days after Putin ordered the deployment of “peacekeeping” troops to the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, which Moscow announced it was recognizing.
In his Thursday address, Putin said he had “taken the decision to carry out a special military operation,” with a goal to “to defend people who for eight years have been suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”
“For this we will aim for demilitarization and deNazification of Ukraine, as well as taking to court those who carried out multiple bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation. Our plans do not include occupying Ukrainian territory.”