Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, organizing the most extensive attack from one nation in Europe to another since World War II.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war against Ukraine on Wednesday night and rained missiles and gunfire onto airports, military zones, and cities, including the capital of Kyiv.
Images have surfaced on social media showing apartment complexes and residential zones decimated from the bombings, leaving many civilians dead or displaced without refuge.
Putin announced early Thursday morning that Russia would undergo a “special military operation” to defend itself against and “denazify” Ukraine.
In his announcement, Putin asked Ukrainian forces to surrender and threatened the United States and NATO that if they intervened with the invasion, they would “face consequences” never seen before in history.
“If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history,” Putin said on Thursday. “All relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me.”
Russian military forces simultaneously began swarming the Ukrainian border through land, aerial, and sea assaults.
Putin, who has long insisted Ukraine is a part of Russia, first invaded and laid claim to parts of Ukraine in 2014.
Russia’s assault brings an end to weeks of diplomatic efforts by world leaders to deter Putin’s forces from invading Ukraine, resulting in hundreds of people reportedly being killed because of the invasion, Ukrainian officials said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on his citizens to defend their country, adding that the government would provide weapons to anyone prepared to fight.
“Russia treacherously attacked our state in the morning, as Nazi Germany did in the WW2 years,” Zelenskiy tweeted. “Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself & won’t give up its freedom no matter what Moscow thinks.”
The Ukrainian military reported that they had destroyed six Russian planes, four tanks, and one helicopter in the assault and killed more than 50 Russian troops.
Joe Biden and other NATO leaders condemned the invasion and offered condolences for Ukraine.
“The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House. “President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”
“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable,” Biden added.
Biden plans to address the nation on Thursday after meeting with the G7. He is expected to levy sanctions on Russia, which many believe will hurt Americans through inflation and higher energy costs.
Markets across the world have already begun suffering the impacts of the invasion. Crude oil prices surged and topped over $100 per barrel for the first time since 2014. The Dow also plummeted 700-points, and stock futures tumbled.