Ukraine: Russia launches full-scale invasion
Russia has launched a major military assault against Ukraine in defiance of international pleas of peace and the severe threat of sanctions from the West. President Vladimir Putin announced the operation in a televised address in the early hours of the morning, where he said he had authorised military operations in Ukraine’s Dombass region, which he recently recognised as independent. Putin said clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces were “inevitable” and urged Ukrainian troops to lay down their arms and go home, adding that Russia did not intend to occupy Ukrainian territory. He warned any country which may be tempted to intervene: “Russian response would be immediate and lead to consequences you had never seen in your history.” Explosions have been heared across Ukraine.
Zelensky warns: ‘We will defend ourselves’
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared martial law. In a video broadcast on social media, he urged Ukrainians not to panic, saying they were ready for anything and would emerge victorious. Earlier, in a national address, he appealed directly to the people of Russia for peace, saying “the possibility of war depends on you”. Switching to Russian in his daily address, he said 200,000 Russian troops were positioned near Ukraine’s borders and had been ordered “to move forward”. He said he had again sought talks with President Putin but had been met with silence. Zelensky said an anticipated invasion “could be the beginning of a big war on the European continent”.
Ukraine makes desperate appeal at UN
As Ukraine declared a state of emergency, the country’s foreign minister Dymtro Kuleba made a desperate appeal at the UN Security Council, saying “failure to act against Russian agression would mark the end of the current world order”. The emergency meeting was held just hours after diplomats from dozens of countries took the floor at the General Assembly to deplore Russia’s actions towards Ukraine and plead for diplomacy as fears of a new war in Europe grew. Opening the Security Councils session, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a direct appeal to the Russian president urging him to stop his troops from attacking Ukraine.
‘World holds Russia accountable’ – Biden
US President Joe Biden has said the world would hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine. He will address the American people later today to outline what further measures the US would take against Russia. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned the attack and Germany said, “It’s a bad day for Europe; it’s a bad day for the world”.
EU sanctions hit 27 Russian individuals
Western countries and their allies have imposed sanctions on Russian banks and MPs, as the crisis escalated. The European Union has provided details of its initial tranch of sanctions. President Putin’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Economy Minister Maxin Reshetnikov are among 27 named individuals whose assets have been frozen. The commander-in chief of the Russian navy and that of Russia’s ground forces are also on the list. Action will also be taken against more than 300 members of the Russian parliament who approved recognising the separatist republics. The EU also sanctioned Margarits Somonyan, editor-in-chief of the English language television network RT (Russia Today).
UK petrol prices hit new high
Average UK petrol and diesel prices have hit a new high and the Ukraine crisis continues to affect oil prices. The RAC said prices in Wednesday rose to 149.30p per litre amid warnings it could soon pass £1.50. Oil prices spiked after Russia ordered troops into two Ukrainian regions earlier this week. Wholesale gas prices also continue to climb, threatening to further push up heating bills.
Trudeau lifts emergency powers
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced he is lifting the emergency powers invoked nine days ago to clear a mass protest against COVID restrictions from the capital, Ottawa. He said that now the crisis had been resolved. Meanwhile, all legal restrictions in England, aimed at controlling the coronavirus, have ended, two years after the first actions were introduced.
Tennis player attacks umpire’s chair with racket
Alexander Zverev, tennis’s world number 3, has apologised following his expulsion from a tournament in Acapulco, after repeatedly smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair. The German faces a hefty punishment after the aggressive incident, which happened after Zverev and his Brazilian partner, Marcelo Melo, were beaten 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 by Briatain’s Llyod Glasspool and Finland’s Harri Heliovaara. Zverev almost hit the official’s leg with one swing.