Explosions reported in Kyiv as Putin invades Ukraine

By Melissa Coade

February 24, 2022

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

People in Ukraine’s capital have reported hearing sounds like firing artillery, according to early reports, as Russian president Vladimir Putin televised an announcement that troops were being deployed into the eastern Donbas region.

According to Reuters, witnesses in Ukraine could hear loud but distant military explosions as Putin’s announcement went to air. Some sources say Russia has commenced rocket attacks on Ukrainian fighter jets at an airport outside the city.

“Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear countries around the world and it has certain advantages in terms of innovative weapons. In this regard, nobody should have any doubt that any direct attack against Russia would be dangerous circumstances for any potential aggressor,” Putin said via his state-controlled television channel, declaring he planned to keep Russian military systems at the Ukrainian-Russian border for decades. 

The former KGB-agent went on to justify his decision to launch a ‘special military operation’ by outlining what he saw as an impermissible threat from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US. He said it would be irresponsible for Russia to sit ‘idly by’ as the alliance deployed more infrastructure into Ukraine and that Russia’s military advance aimed to demilitarise – and the ‘denazification’ of – Ukraine. 

Putin’s propaganda has consistently labelled the leaders of Ukraine as neo-Nazis. 

“As NATO is moving to the east, the security for Russia is getting more and more dangerous and NATO has been saying that they need to bring the infrastructure to Russia as fast as possible,” Putin said.

“Definitely, NATO is the tool in foreign policy with the US,” he said. 

The Russian defense ministry has been briefing the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, claiming Ukrainian cities were not being targeted and there was no threat to the civilian population.

In a tweet, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed a full-scale invasion of his country was underway. He also listed five things international supporters could do to help the largest democratic neighbour of Russia.

“Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes. This is a war of aggression,” Kuleba said.

“Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”

The New York Times reports Russian troops have also landed in Ukraine’s south, with military engagements extended to Odessa.

Ukrainian air space is now closed to commercial flights and US president Joe Biden fielded a call from President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday afternoon. 

Earlier today Biden confirmed a national security waiver would be used to proceed with sanctions on the company responsible for constructing Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

“These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine,” Biden in a statement.

“As I have made clear, we will not hesitate to take further steps if Russia continues to escalate.”

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison also addressed Ukrainian-Australians this morning, saying his thoughts were with their community and announced amendments to the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations, to target sanctions against individuals supporting the Russian regime.

This is giving us the scope to cover people and entities of strategic and economic significance to Russia, so that gives us a broad remit in order to take targeted action.

This will be the first tranche of measures that we expect to take. We are taking actions against eight members of Russia’s Security Council, a series of banks and financial institutions, and extending existing sanctions on the transport, energy, telecommunications and oil and gas and mineral sectors to Donetsk and Luhansk,” Morrison said.


What diplomats need to know responding to Putin’s military threat in Ukraine

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