RELIVE- Day 1 of Russia-Ukraine crisis: Russian troops on the outskirts of Kyiv

Ahram Online , Thursday 24 Feb 2022

Ahram Online provided a live coverage on Thursday of the unfolding Russian invasion of Ukraine and international reactions. (All times are GMT+2, Cairo Local Time)

A couple carry their goods to a shelter during Russian shelling outside Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday,
A couple carry their goods to a shelter during Russian shelling outside Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. AP

Key Events on Day 1 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

  • Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv , Kharkiv and Odessa as world leaders decried the start of an invasion that could cause massive casualties, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government and threaten the post-Cold War balance on the continent.

  • Ukrainians started fleeing some cities, and the Russian military claimed to have incapacitated all of Ukraine’s air defenses and air bases within hours.

  • ·Russian troops captured the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant after a fierce fight with the Ukrainian forces guarding the storage of the radioactive waste storage.

  •   Ukrainian media reported that the Russian troops are on the outskirts of Kyiv.

  •   US, UK announced additional sanctions packages targeting Russian banks and financial institutions, but falling short of their threat to isolate Russia from the SWIFT system.

  •   US President Joe Biden will send an additional 7,000 US troops to Germany to assure NATO allies.

  •  Biden said that US troops in Eastern Europe will not get involved in the Ukraine but they will protect NATO allies.

  •   Biden accused Putin of trying to revive the Soviet Union, said sanctioning the Russian leader is on the table.

  •  French President Emanuel Macron made the first call by a Western leader to the Russian President, demanding a stop to the military operation.


23:18 Some 100,000 displaced in Ukraine, thousands flee abroad: UN

23:14 French President Emmanuel Macron called Putin to 'demand immediate halt' to Russia offensive in Ukraine, according to a statement by the Elysee.

The Kremlin said that Putin held a "serious and frank exchange of views" about Ukraine and Putin gave an "exhaustive explanation of the reasons and circumstances behind the decision to conduct a special military operation" there, it said in a statement.

22:54 The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Thursday it was temporarily evacuating foreign staff from Ukraine following Russia's invasion.

Several hundred OSCE observers from dozens of nations are currently blocked in Ukraine with the world's biggest security body seemingly taken by surprise at the scale of the dawn attack.

"Due to the ongoing fighting and deteriorated security situation in Ukraine... I have decided to temporarily evacuate all international mission members from Ukraine as soon as possible," OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid said in a statement.

21:45 The leaders of the World Bank and IMF signaled Thursday they were ready to help Ukraine, while warning that Russia's invasion will have repercussions for the global economic recovery.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said she was "deeply concerned" about the fighting's impact on the people of Ukraine, and cautioned in a tweet that the conflict "adds significant economic risk for the region & the world."

The International Monetary Fund continues to assess the economic impact, but will "stand ready to support our members as needed," she said.

The Washington-based crisis lender is in the process of deploying $2.2 billion in assistance to Ukraine under a loan program set to end in June.

21:43 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced sanctions Thursday against 58 Russian individuals and entities in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, which he called "a massive threat to security and peace around the world."

"Today in light of Russia's reckless and dangerous military strike, we're imposing further severe sanctions," Trudeau told a news conference.

These sanctions will target members of the Russian elite and their families, security officials, the Wagner group -- a private military company -- as well as Russian banks, he said, adding that Canada was also cancelling export permits for Russia.

20:25 President Joe Biden to send 7000 US troops to Germany to assure Natio allies.

20:20 President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, charging that Russian leader Vladimir Putin "chose this war" and that his country will bear the consequences of his action.

The sanctions target Russian banks, oligarchs, and high-tech sectors, Biden said. The United States and its allies will block assets of four large Russian banks, impose export controls and sanction oligarchs

The penalties fall in line with the White House's insistence that it would look to hit Russia's financial system and Putin's inner circle, while also imposing export controls that would aim to starve Russia's industries and military of U.S. semiconductors and other high-tech products.

Biden, for now, held off imposing some of the most severe sanctions, including cutting Russia out of the SWIFT payment system, which allows for the transfers of money from bank to bank around the globe, or Russia's energy sector.

Biden announced the sanctions as Ukraine's government reported mounting casualties as Russian forces attack from the east, north and south.

20:15 US President Joe Biden, said on twitter that he met with his G7 counterparts to discuss 'President Putin’s unjustified attack on Ukraine.' Biden said that they agreed to move forward on devastating packages of sanctions and other economic measures to hold Russia to account. He affirmed that "We stand with the brave people of Ukraine." (AFP)

20:07 Egypt's Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anany discussed on Tuesday the repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis on the tourism sector in Egypt and the position of tourists whose countries have been affected by developments in international air traffic, following the Ukrainian crisis, the ministry said.

Stranded tourists will continue to stay in the hotels in which they reside in Egypt until their safe return to their country, the ministry added in a statement following a meeting held by the minister.

"All necessary measures were taken to provide all means of comfort to our guests, tourists from different countries of the world," it added.

The ministry's hotline (19654) is available to receive calls to answer all tourists' inquiries 24 hours a day, in several languages, including English, Russian and Ukrainian.

Ukrainian servicemen stand on the north of Kyiv on February 24, 2022. AFP

20:02 Egypt, EU to closely assess situation in Ukrain, said EU Ambassador in Cairo Christian Berger while inspecting a number of culture and developmental projects in the Upper Egyptian province of Aswan on Thursday.

Berger said that there will be consultations with Egypt over the coming days regarding the situation in Ukraine. (Ahram Online)

19:53 Russia said Thursday that its military had achieved its goals set out for the first day of its invasion of Ukraine, after launching the attack despite warnings of sweeping Western sanctions.

"All of the tasks assigned to the groups of troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for the day were successfully completed," Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

19:48 Russian troops capture Chernobyl Nuclear plant, impossible to ensure its safety, Ukrainian Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said

19:45  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would aim to cut Russia off from the U.K.'s financial markets as he announced a new set of sanctions in response to President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions include freezing the assets of all major Russian banks, including VTB Bank, the nation's second-biggest bank, Johnson said Thursday. Britain also plans to bar Russian companies and the Russian government from raising money on U.K. markets. Britain will also ban the export of a wide range of high-tech products, including semiconductors, to Russia and to prohibit the nation's flagship airline, Aeroflot, from landing at U.K. airports.

19:27 A senior U.S. official says the U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Friday on a resolution condemning Russia in the strongest terms possible for attacking Ukraine and demanding the immediate withdrawal of all its forces - knowing that Russia will veto the legally binding measure.

The United States believes it is very important to put the resolution to a vote to underscore Russia's international isolation, and emphasizes that the veto will be followed quickly by a resolution in the 193-member U.N. General Assembly where there are no vetoes, the official said Thursday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. (AFP)

19:20 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensnky has urged Moscow to end hostilities, adding that Russian airborne troops have been checked outside Kyiv.

"It wasn't Ukraine that chose the path of war, but Ukraine is offering to go back to the path of peace,'' he said Thursday. He said a Russian airborne force in Hostomel airport outside Kyiv, which has a big runway, has been stopped and is being destroyed.

The Ukrainian leader said many Russian warplanes and armored vehicles were destroyed but didn't give numbers. He also said an unspecified number of Russian troops was captured. He said a difficult situation is developing in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city just over 20 kilometers from the Russian border. In the north the Russians are slowly advancing toward Chernihiv, Zelensky said.

He appealed to global leaders, saying that "if you don't help us now, if you fail to offer strong assistance to Ukraine, tomorrow the war will knock on your door.''

19:12 Russia's Defense Ministry says the Russian military has destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities, including 11 air bases.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered that Ukrainian servicemen be treated ‘with respect’ and those who lay down their weapons offered safe corridors.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the loss of a Su-25 attack jet due to ‘pilor error’.

18:32 Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised meeting with Russian officials that ‘We had to do it,” referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, adding that ‘the risks to your country was so severe’ and that "there was no chance to act in a different way." (Ahram Online)

18:31 In the last few moments, Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko has announced a city-wide curfew, BBC said. 

"Friends! Kyiv is introducing a curfew from today. It will be in force between 22:00 and 07:00," he said.

"It is necessary for the safety of the capital's residents amid military aggression and with martial law in force," Klitschko added.

While public transport will be unavailable during the curfew, metro stations will remain open for use as shelters.

18:30 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded that Russia be banned from the SWIFT international banking system and the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine and ‘other effective steps to stop the aggressor.’

He also announced that a A package of additional tough sanctions against Russia from the EU is approaching. He added that he discussed all the details with the French President Emmanuel Macron.

18:06 The Russian invasion of Ukraine intends to decapitate the country's government and install new leadership allied to Moscow, a senior US defense official said Thursday.

"They have every intention of basically decapitating the government and installing their own means of governance," the official said. (AFP)

18:01 Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin will decide when Ukraine offensive ends. (RT)

18:00 Egypt has affirmed the importance of upholding dialogue and diplomatic solutions, as well as endeavours that would hasten a political settlement to the Ukrainian crisis, a statement by the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. "Egypt is following with deep concern the successive developments regarding the situation in Ukraine, and affirms the importance of upholding dialogue and diplomatic solutions, as well as endeavours that would hasten the political settlement of the crisis," the ministry said.

17:55 Russian and Ukrainian forces are battling for control of an airbase on the northern outskirts of Kyiv, a senior Ukrainian officer said Thursday, as dozens of attack helicopters swooped on the area.

"Fighting is underway for Gostomel airfield," armed forces chief Valeriy Zaluzhny said in a statement posted online. Earlier, AFP reporters had seen helicopters flying low over the city from the north.

The Gostomel airfield, which is alongside the Antonov airport, is immediately on the northern edge of Kyiv, and the fighting there is the closest that Russian forces had got to the capital on the first day of their invasion.

17:54 NATO's secretary-general says Russia has launched war on Ukraine and shattered peace on the European continent.

Jens Stoltenberg called for a summit of NATO alliance leaders for Friday.

Stoltenberg said that "this is a deliberate, cold-blooded and long-planned invasion.'' And he charged that "Russia is using force to try to rewrite history.'' (AFP)

17:40 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on twitter that 'Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl Nucler plant, which saw one of the most horrific nuclear disasters. He added that the Ukrinian forces are 'giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.' He also said that he reported this to Sweden's Prime Minister. adding that "this is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe."



17:18 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Russia will always be ready for dialogue despite Russian forces launching a major military assault on Ukraine.

"Unfortunately, our Western friends do not respect international law, trying to destroy it and promote what they call 'rules-based order,'" Lavrov says, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reports

Russian helicopter in Ukraine campaign makes emergency landing

17:08 Russian authorities warned anti-war sympathisers from gathering for anti-war protests. The Investigative Committee, a government body that investigates major crimes, warned Russians of legal repercussions for joining unsanctioned protests related to "the tense foreign political situation".

It said it was responding to social media calls to protest against Putin's decision to attack Ukraine. (AFP)

Russian forces close Red Square in Moscow

17:00 AFP VIDEO: People are seen outside a metro station in Kyiv on Thursday with luggage and personal belongings. When asked by an AFP reporter why they have come to the station, a woman says it's to "save our lives" as Russia "starts a war in Ukraine".

16:51 Russian troops have entered Chernobyl zone from Belarus, according to English speaking Ukrainian channel UATV, the Ukrainian channel said the National Guad 'resisted firecely,' guarding storage of unsafe radioactive waste.

15:45 Air raid sirens rang out in Ukraine's capital Kyiv on Thursday afternoon as an Ukrainian president advisor said battles are taking place 35 km from the capital.

An Ukrainian forces commander said that the Ukrainian troops is fighting against the Russian forces at Hostomel Airport in Kyiv. (Al Arabiya News)

15:30 In the joint EU-NATO press conference on Thursday afternoon in Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it a “barbaric attack” on an independent nation that also targeted “the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order.”

The EU will hold an emergency summit in Brussels, where NATO is also meeting after Poland and the Baltic nations bordering Russia and Ukraine called for an urgent session.

15:15 In a joint EU-NATO press conference on Thursday afternoon in BrusselsEU chief Charles Michel on Thursday urged Belarus to "not take part" in Russia's military assault on Ukraine, ahead of an emergency European Union summit to decide new sanctions on Moscow over its invasion.

In an appeal to Belarus and its people during a media conference at NATO headquarters, Michel said: "You have the choice not to follow Russia's destructive action. You have the choice not to take part in this needless tragedy against your neighbours in Ukraine." (AFP)

14:50  The Egyptian Embassy in Kyiv urged Egyptian nationals living in Ukraine to remain at home and to takes measures to ensure their safety.

The embassy said Egyptian authorities are in close contact with their Ukrainian counterparts to ensure the safety of Egyptian nationals in Ukraine, urging our expats to follow instructions from the Ukrainian government until further notice.

14:40 French President Emmanuel Macron says France and its European allies did everything to try to head off the attack on Ukraine. He said that they will show "no weakness'' in their response.

Macron said in a televised address to the nation Thursday that Russia's attack is a "turning point in European history'' and as a result "there will be profound consequences for our continent and changes in our lives.''

He said that "to this act of war, we will reply without weakness, we will reply calmly and in a determined and united manner.''

"We have tried everything to avoid this war but it is here and we are ready,'' Macron said.

He said that sanctions will be "proportionate'' to Russia's military operations, targeting its economy and its energy sector.

"We will show no weakness,'' Macron said. "We will take all measures necessary to defend the sovereignty and stability of our European allies.''

14:35 Fedor Smolov became the first Russian international footballer to express his opposition to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia posting on Instagram: "No to war."

The 32-year-old Dynamo Moscow striker's post is against a dark backdrop and followed by a Ukrainian flag and a broken heart icon.

The 45-times capped Smolov -- who has been called up to the last three national squads -- expressed his opposition hours after the launching of the Russian invasion was announced by President Vladimir Putin.

14:30 Kremlin says believes Russians will 'support' Ukraine operation, duration of mission will depend on 'results'. AFP

14:20 Russian forces break into north of Kyiv region, the Ukraine border guards were quoted by the AFP.

Ukrainian troops on the move against the Russian invasion

14:00 Eighteen killed in attack near Ukraine's Odessa, according to AFP quoting an Ukrainian official.

14:00 NATO activating 'defence plans' for allies as Russia invades non-member Ukraine, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced.

US troops arrive in NATO-member Romania last week

13:50 Turkey's Erdogan denounces Russian invasion of Ukraine as 'heavy blow' to regional peace. (AFP)

13:45 UEFA has called an emergency meeting of its top decision-making body to discuss moving the Champion League final out of Russia after Moscow attacked Ukraine on Thursday.

Damage in Ukraine from Russian bombing

13:00 French President Emanuel Macron has called for a summit of the NATO "as soon as possible" to consult with allies in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the AFP.

Ukrainian troops on the move against the Russian invasion

12:45 Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey has called on the NATO member country to close its airspace and to shut down the straits at the entrance of the Black Sea to Russian ships.

"We are calling for the airspace, Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to be closed,'' Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar told reporters on Thursday. "We have conveyed our relevant demand to the Turkish side. At the same time, we want sanctions imposed on the Russian side.''

A 1936 convention gives Turkey control over the straits connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, and allows it to limit the passage of warships during wartime or if Turkey is threatened.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened an emergency security meeting to discuss the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Turkey, which enjoys close relations with both Ukraine and Russia, had been pressing for a diplomatic solution to the tensions.

File Photo: Russian warship passing through Turkish waters

12:30 An adviser to Ukraine's president says about 40 people have been killed so far in the Russian attack on the country.

Oleksii Arestovich, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday that several dozen people have been wounded.

He didn't specify whether the casualties included civilians.

Zelensky said the Ukrainian authorities will hand weapons to all those willing to defend the country.

"The future of the Ukrainian people depends on every Ukrainian,'' he said, urging all those who can defend the country to come to the Interior Ministry's assembly facilities.

Ukrainian civilians take shelter after start of Russian campaign

12:25 Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, says that Russian forces have launched the attack on Ukraine from the north, east and south. The adviser, 

Oleksii Arestovich, another adviser to President Zelensky, said Russia has targeted air bases and various other military infrastructure.

He said the Russian strike hasn't achieved its goal to rout the country's military. He said that "we suffered casualties, but they aren't significant,'' adding that the Russian strikes "haven't eroded the combat capability of the Ukrainian military.''

He added that the Russian troops moved up to 5 kilometers (about 3 miles) deep into the Ukrainian territory in the Kharkiv and Chernihiv regions, and, possibly in other areas. (AP)

12:05 EU and NATO member Lithuania said on Thursday it would impose a state of emergency after the Russian army's air and ground attack on Ukraine.

"Today I will sign a decree imposing a state of emergency," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said after a meeting of the national defence council, adding that "Lithuania would request the activation of NATO's Article 4, which provides for emergency consultations if a member of the alliance is threatened. (AP)

12:00  A Ukrainian presidential adviser says that Russian forces have launched an attack on Ukraine from the north, east and south.

The adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said "the Ukrainian military is fighting hard.''

Podolyak said Thursday that "our army is fighting back inflicting significant losses to the enemy.'' He said that there have been civilian casualties, but didn't give details.

He said that "Ukraine now needs a greater and very specific support from the world - military-technical, financial as well as tough sanctions against Russia,'' he said.

Another adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia has targeted air bases and various other military infrastructure.

Oleksii Arestovich said the Russian strike hasn't achieved its goal to rout the country's military. He said that "we suffered casualties, but they aren't significant,'' adding that the Russian strikes "haven't eroded the combat capability of the Ukrainian military.''

He said that the Russian troops moved up to 5 kilometers (about 3 miles) deep into the Ukrainian territory in the Kharkiv and Chernihiv regions, and, possibly in other areas. (AP)

Damage from Russian bombing campaign

11:40 Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Thursday he was against Moscow's invasion of Ukraine as he stood trial from prison after President Vladimir Putin launched an attack.

"I am against this war," Navalny was heard saying in a video of the in-prison trial published by independent news outlet Dozhd.

"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," he said.

Wearing a prison uniform, Navalny said the war would "lead to a huge number of victims, destroyed futures and the continuation of this line of impoverishment of the citizens of Russia."

He is being tried inside the maximum security prison where he is held outside Moscow on fresh charges that could see his time behind bars extended by a decade.

His allies have said that the trial -- which opened last week -- has been purposefully timed to coincide with the Ukraine crisis.

Navalny has been behind bars for a year on old fraud charges, after surviving a poison attack he and the West blame on the Kremlin. (AFP)

11:45 Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky announces severance of diplomatic ties with Russia, Al Arabiya News reported.

President Zelensky in an emergency meeting with top government officials

11:20 The Ukrainian army announces the killing of 50 Russian soldiers and the shooting down of 6 planes in the east of the country, Al Arabiya News reported.

Ukrainian troops mobilise against Russian invasion

10:45 Asian stock markets have plunged and oil prices surged after President Vladimir Putin announced Russian military action in Ukraine.

Market benchmarks in Tokyo and Seoul fell 2% and Hong Kong and Sydney lost more than 3% Thursday. Oil prices jumped nearly $3 per barrel on unease about possible disruption of Russian supplies.

Earlier, Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1.8% to an eight-month low after the Kremlin said rebels in eastern Ukraine asked for military assistance.

Investors already were uneasy about the possible impact of the Federal Reserve's plans to try to cool inflation by withdrawing ultra-low interest rates and other stimulus that boosted share prices. (AP)

10:15 Biden in a written statement condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack,” and he promised that the U.S. and its allies would “hold Russia accountable.” The president said he planned to speak to Americans on Thursday after a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders. More sanctions against Russia were expected to be announced Thursday. (AP)

10:10 Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the assault as a “full-scale invasion” and said Ukraine will “defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”

In the capital, Kyiv, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko advised residents to stay home unless they are involved in critical work and urged them to prepare go-bags with necessities and documents if they need to evacuate. An Associated Press photographer in Mariupol reported hearing explosions and seeing dozens of people with suitcases heading for their cars to leave the city.

“We are facing a war and horror. What could be worse?” 64-year-old Liudmila Gireyeva said in Kyiv. She planned to head to the western city of Lviv and then to try to move to Poland to join her daughter. Putin “will be damned by history, and Ukrainians are damning him.” (AP)

Support for President Putin on a Russian street

9:50 The European Union says it is planning the "strongest, the harshest package'' of sanctions it has ever considered at an emergency summit Thursday, as the Russian military attacked Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that "the target is the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order, and we will hold President (Vladimir) Putin accountable for that.''

"We will present a package of massive and targeted sanctions to European leaders for approval,'' she said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called it the "strongest, the harshest package'' ever considered.

9:45 The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are condeming the Russian operation in Ukraine as a "crime against Ukrainian people."

In a joint statement, the three countries' foreign ministers condemned strongly "the open large scale Russian aggression against the independent, peaceful and democratic Ukraine.''

They called it "a blatant violation of the international law, of all international norms and a crime against Ukrainian people that we condemn.''

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto said the Russian move is "an attack on the security order throughout Europe.'' (AP)

9:40 Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights on Thursday, citing a high risk to safety, Reuters reported

Ukrainians take shelter from Russian campaign

9:30 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Western allies will not stand by as Russia attacks Ukraine.

In an early morning call, Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that he was appalled by events in Ukraine, according to a statement released by the prime minister's office.

"The Prime Minister said the West would not stand by as President Putin waged his campaign against the Ukrainian people,'' Johnson's office said in the statement.

Johnson added that Ukraine was in the thoughts of everyone in the U.K. "during this dark time.''

9:20 Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned Russia's military actions in the Ukraine and said his country will respond in a speedy fashion in concert with the United States and other allies.

"This Russian invasion stands to put at risk the basic principle of international order that forbids one-sided action of force in an attempt to change the status quo. We strongly condemn Russia, and we will respond speedily in cooperation with the U.S. and other Western nations,'' he said at his official residence in Tokyo.

Spain, France, Australia and Italy were among others condemning the attack. Germany and Turkey also warned their citizens in Ukraine to stay in a safe place. (AP)

9:10 The European Union Aviation Safety Agency is telling air operators of a high risk to civilian aircraft over Ukraine, reminding air operators that "this is now an active conflict zone.''

In the bulletin issued early Thursday, EASA said that "airspace and critical infrastructure, including airports, are exposed to military activities which result in safety risks for civil aircraft. In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft.''

It added: "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.''

It recommended that, "additionally, as a precautionary measure, operators should exercise extreme caution and avoid using the airspace'' within 100 nautical miles of the Belarusian- and Russia-Ukraine border.

9:08 French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday strongly condemned Russia's military action against Ukraine and vowed that Paris would work with allies to try to end the conflict.

"Russia must immediately put an end to its military operations," Macron wrote on Twitter, saying Russia had made the decision to "wage war" on Ukraine.

"France stands in solidarity with Ukraine. It stands by Ukrainians and is working with its partners and allies to end the war," he added.

Macron had repeatedly spoken to President Vladimir Putin seeking a diplomatic solution to the standoff but to no avail. (AFP)

9:00 Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is ending his two-day visit to Moscow hours after Russia began a military operation in Ukraine.

Pakistani government officials have offered few details on the substance of Khan's visit, which was planned more than a month ago and was expected to focus on Pakistan's energy needs. It was the first visit to Moscow by a Pakistani leader in more than 20 years.

Khan was to have met with Russian President Vladimir Putin following his arrival on Wednesday, though the foreign ministry has not spoken of it. Khan's decision to still go ahead with the visit despite a growing fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine surprised some analysts.

In recent years Pakistan has grown closer to Russia, which has traditional ties with Islamabad's long-time foe and neighbor India. Russia and Pakistan have shared military exercises and grown closer as peace was sought to the relentless conflict in Afghanistan. (AP)

8:55 NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has convened a meeting of NATO ambassadors to assess the invasion of Ukraine, which borders several NATO members.

The meeting Thursday morning will "address the situation in Ukraine and the consequences of Russia's unprovoked attack.''

Earlier, Stoltenberg had already condemned Russia's invasion. "Despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression,'' Stoltenberg said.

He also warned Moscow that the alliance will will "do all it takes to protect and defend'' NATO members.

He called the invasion a "grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security. I call on Russia to cease its military action immediately.'' (AP)

8:30 The Russian military says it has knocked out Ukraine's air defense assets and airbases.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the Russian strikes have "suppressed air defense means of the Ukrainian military,'' adding that the infrastructure of Ukraine's military bases has been incapacitated.'' It denied the claims that a Russian warplane was shot down over Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military, meanwhile, reported that it has shot down five Russian aircraft while fending off the Russian attack on the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he unleashed an attack on Ukraine in a televised address early Thursday, drawing international condemnation. (AP)

Ukrainian air defenses confront Russian bombing campaign

8:15 China is advising its people in Ukraine to stay home because of ongoing military actions and chaos but made no mention of Russian forces.

The notice issued on its Kyiv embassy's social media account Thursday said: "Social order is chaotic and out of control, especially in the cities where at times of serious unrest."

It said a person walking on the streets could be a target of attack and traffic could be stopped at any time. It added that people should remain calm and contact local authorities if they come into danger.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the military operation in eastern Ukraine early Thursday.

China has denounced sanctions against Russia, with which it has increasingly aligned its foreign policy to challenge the West, and blamed the U.S. and its allies for provoking Moscow.

7:50 The top European Union chiefs said the invasion of Ukraine "will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia'' and that more sanction will be in the offing.

The 27-nation bloc already issued sanctions on Russia for its recognition of breakaway republics in Ukraine earlier this week, and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and foreign policy chief Josep Borrell "will outline a further sanctions package.''

The 27 EU leaders will discuss them later Thursday at a summit meeting and they could be imposed soon after.

7:45 Ukraine's border guard agency confirmed that the Russian military has attacked the country from neighboring Belarus.

The agency said that the Russian troops unleashed artillery barrage as part of an attack backed by Belarus. They said the Ukrainian border guards were firing back, adding that there was no immediate report of casualties.

Russian troops have deployed to its ally Belarus for military drills, a move that the West saw as a prelude to an invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv is about 75 kilometers (50 miles) south of the border with Belarus. (AP)

Russian troops cross border into Ukraine on Thursday morning

7:30 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has sharply condemned Russia's attack on Ukraine calling it "a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe.''

The chancellor said Thursday morning that "the Russian attack on Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law. It cannot be justified by anything.''

He added that "Germany condemns this reckless act by President Putin in the strongest possible terms.''

Scholz said in a written statement that "our solidarity is with Ukraine and its people. Russia must stop this military action immediately."

He added Germany would coordinate closely with others within the framework of the Group of Seven, NATO and the European Union. (AP)

7:00 U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says Russia's attack on Ukraine - as he appealed for President Vladimir Putin to stop his troops - was "the saddest moment'' of his five-year tenure.

The U.N. chief opened the emergency Security Council meeting by urgently appealing to Putin: "In the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia."

But during the meeting, Putin announced early Thursday that he was launching a "special military operation'' in eastern Ukraine.

Guterres later urged the Russian president to withdraw his troops and added: "In the name of humanity do not allow to start in Europe what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century, with consequences not only devastating for Ukraine, not only tragic for the Russian Federation, but with an impact we cannot even foresee in relation to the consequences for the global economy.''

"What is clear for me is that this war doesn't make any sense,'' Guterres said, stressing that it violates the U.N. Charter and will cause a level of suffering if it doesn't stop that Europe hasn't know since at least the 1990s Balkans crisis.


* This report was compiled by Mohamed Hafez, Ali Ashraf, Yasser Saddiq, Mohamed Nada, and Haitham Nouri.

* All photos by AFP and AP.

* Mahmoud Elassal contributed to this coverage.

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