Moscow claims to have wiped out Ukraine’s air defences; Kyiv claims downing of Russian planes; Biden says his prayers are with Ukrainians
Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling, as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee. Ukraine’s government said Russian tanks and troops rolled across the border in a “full-scale war” that could rewrite the geopolitical order and whose fallout already reverberated around the world.
President Vladimir Putin deflected global condemnation and cascading new sanctions and chillingly referred to his country’s nuclear arsenal. He threatened any foreign country attempting to interfere with “consequences you have never seen.”
Sirens wailed in Ukraine’s capital, large explosions were heard there and in other cities, and people massed in train stations and took to roads, as the government said the former Soviet republic was seeing a long-anticipated invasion from the east, north and south. It reported more than 40 soldiers had been killed and dozens wounded so far.
Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights on Thursday after Russia launched a “military operation” after weeks of intense diplomacy and the imposition of Western sanctions failed to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Europe’s aviation regulator warned about hazards to flying in bordering regions. Moldova, southwest of Ukraine, also closed its airspace, while Belarus to the north said civilian flights could no longer fly over part of its territory.
The chief of the NATO alliance said the “brutal act of war” shattered peace in Europe, joining a chorus of world leaders who decried the attack, which could cause massive casualties, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government and upend the post-Cold War security order. The conflict was already shaking global financial markets: Stocks plunged and oil prices soared amid concerns that heating bills and food prices would sky