Satellite photo shows an explosion at Chuhuiv aribase outside of Kharkiv, Ukraine Satellite photo shows an explosion at Chuhuiv aribase outside of Kharkiv, Ukraine  (AFP or licensors)

Russia invades Ukraine, dozens killed

Europe's largest war since World War Two appears to be underway, with Ukraine saying Russia launched a full-scale invasion early Thursday local time. Explosions were heard in several cities that reportedly killed dozens of people.

By Stefan J. Bos

Air raid alarms and blasts reverberated throughout Ukraine's capital Kyiv and other cities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia is attacking his nation with as many as 200,000 troops from Crimea, Belarus, and Russia.

He claimed his country's troops were repelling attacks in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine and other parts of the country. But Russia said it met little resistance after Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Ukrainian forces to lay down their arms and go home.

The Ukrainian military stressed that it killed at least 50 Russian troops and shot down six Russian aircraft. However, the military claims could not be verified independently.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

Earlier reports suggested that at least dozens of Ukrainian civilians were killed in Russian bombings mainly aimed at military and intelligence installations.

The fighting is no longer concentrated only on eastern Ukraine, where Moscow recognized the two self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk republics ruled by Russian-backed separatists.

People fleeing

Even in the capital Kyiv, people are fleeing to safety. "I am going to my parents," a young woman said. "They are living in the middle of Ukraine. I think it's safer there. I haven't slept till 4 am because everyone said that the war would begin at that time. It was not, but when I wanted to sleep, my mother called me to say the war had started," she recalled.

Another young man also flees Kyiv. "We are going to our family to be together now in this not very safe time now in Ukraine," he said. "But we will have a victory, I believe," the youngster added.    

The conflict has international implications as it has raised concerns among nearby Eastern European states that were occupied by Russia-led Soviet Union forces for decades.

A U.S. security source says thousands of American troops and other allied forces in these countries who are now members of the NATO military alliance.

However, it has led to the most serious standoff between the nuclear powers U.S. and Russia since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis that brought the Cold War close to nuclear war.

World reacts

World leaders have condemned the attack, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. "Shortly after 4 o'clock this morning, I spoke to president Zelenskyy of Ukraine to offer the continued support of the U.K.
Because our worst fears have now come true, and all our warnings have proved tragically accurate. President Putin of Russia has unleashed war in our European continent," he told the nation in televised remarks.

"He has attacked a friendly country without any provocation and without any credible excuse. Innumerable missiles and bombs have been raining down on an entirely innocent population. A vast invasion is underway by land by sea and by air," Johnson said.

The European Union and the United States have announced tough sanctions targeting Russia, ranging from actions against Russian financial institutions and individuals to closing a critical natural gas pipeline.

But those actions have fine little to silence the guns on the front lines of Europe's extending battlefields.

24 February 2022, 17:53