Published On: Thu, Feb 24th, 2022

War returns to Europe: Russian missiles rain down on airports, military bases, and Kyiv

New Delhi: Russia on Thursday launched all-out war on Ukraine with simultaneous attacks coming from south, east and north, by land and by air, Daily Mail reported.

Moscow reported that it was carrying out strikes at elements of Ukraine’s military infrastructure

Missiles and bombs rained from the sky, tanks rolled across the border, troops parachuted down on eastern regions and explosions were seen across the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the order to attack, the report said.

‘Hundreds’ of Ukrainian troops were killed in early clashes, and official said, as the fight came to them on all fronts at a moment’s notice.

Official figures put the death toll at 40, with ‘dozens’ wounded. Cruise missiles, guided bombs and Grad rockets took out targets from east to west – aimed at airfields, military bases, ammo dumps, and command posts including in the capital, the report said.

Six Russian jets were shot out of the sky over the eastern Donbass region with 50 Russian troops killed, Ukraine claimed, before Moscow boasted of taking full control of the skies, the report said.

Ukrainian border guards said they had come under attack by heavy artillery, tanks and troops from Russia and Belarus as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko threw his forces into the fight – though he denied taking part.

Luhansk, Sumy, and Chernihiv in the east of Ukraine all came under attack, while tanks battled on the outskirts of Kharkiv after paratroopers dropped in. Blasts were also reported in the west – in Zhytomyr and Lviv, close to the border with Poland.

Extraordinary video footage showed what appeared to be a Kalibur cruise missile slamming into Ivano-Frankivsk airport. An apartment block in Kharkiv was also struck, causing civilian casualties including a young boy. Video also appeared to confirm cruise missiles had been launched by Russian troops stationed in Moldova, Daily Mail reported.

Meanwhile pro-Russian rebel forces pushed out from the occupied Donbass region, capturing two villages and claiming to have shot two Ukrainian jets out of the skies.

The port cities of Mariupol and Odessa, where Ukraine’s main naval bases are located, were also attacked. Russian tankers appeared to have blockaded the Kerch Strait, leading from the Back Sea to the Sea of Azov, cutting off Mariupol.

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency has suspended all flights to and from 12 airports in the south of the country. The move comes after Moscow revealed that it had launched airstrikes in Ukraine, RT reported.

“The airports temporarily suspended are Rostov (Platov), Krasnodar (Pashkovsky), Anapa (Vityazevo), Gelendzhik, Elista, Stavropol, Belgorod, Bryansk, Kursk, Voronezh, and Simferopol,” the agency reported on its official website, also noting that people should avoid going to the airports. The restriction will remain in place until March 2, 2022.

Russia has asserted that it is targeting “military infrastructure, air defence facilities, military airfields, and aviation (in Ukraine),” with the Defence Ministry claiming that there is no threat to the civilian population, the report said.

Early on Thursday morning, in a televised address to the nation, Putin announced that Russia would begin launching a special military operation in Ukraine. The goal of the action, according to the Kremlin, is “to protect the people (of Donbas) who have been tortured for eight years by the Ukrainian regime.”

Putin also called for the complete “demilitarisation” and “denazification” of Ukraine, and made a pledge to prosecute those who were involved in “numerous bloody crimes against civilians”. The Russian leader called on Ukrainian soldiers “to put down arms immediately” so they could return home to their families.

Moscow’s decision to enter Ukraine followed an official request from the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (DPR) People’s Republics for “help in repelling the Ukrainian military aggression”, RT reported.

On the other hand, Russia has taken out Ukraine’s air defences and airforce with a series of precision attacks, the country’s Defence Ministry has said in a statement, after airports and runways across the country were rocked by explosions.

Officials also claimed on Thursday morning that Ukrainian border guards are not resisting the advancing Russian troops, who have moved in after President Vladimir Putin signed an order to begin a “special operation” in the Donbas, Russia Today reported.

At the same time, the officials denied claims made by Kiev’s defence chiefs that Russia had lost at least one military plane over the country during the offensive.

In an earlier statement, Moscow reported that it was carrying out strikes at elements of Ukraine’s military infrastructure.

Russia launched the offensive against Ukraine on Thursday morning on the orders of President Vladimir Putin, who said the goal of the operation was to demilitarise and “de-Nazify” Ukraine, Russia Today reported.

The Russian leader claimed that the military action was necessary to stop Ukrainian attacks on the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, which Moscow recognised as sovereign states on Monday. He claimed Russia could come under attack by Ukrainian radicals, unless their influence in the country is diminished, and accused Western nations of arming Kiev against Russia, the report said.

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