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Sen. Bernie Sanders tore into Russian President Vladimir Putin for reportedly moving his super-yacht named ‘Graceful’ earlier this month before his deadly assault on Ukraine.
‘Putin, a multi-billionaire, is the poster boy for greed and oligarchy,’ the progressive senator from Vermont tweeted Thursday. ‘Maybe, before starting a war that could kill thousands and displace millions, he might worry more about the people of Ukraine and Russia and less about his precious super-yacht.’
The Biden administration announced a new round of sanctions on Thursday that President Joe Biden believes will hurt the Russian economy ‘both immediately and over time’ and will leave Moscow reeling for years.
He also said putting sanctions on Putin himself was ‘on the table’ but didn’t answer a question as to why none were announced Thursday – as calls grow to put Putin in personal financial pain.
CNN reported Friday afternoon that sanctions directly on Putin could come as early as later in the day.
Sanders linked to a story from Insider, citing German media reports, that said the super-yacht was relocated from German waters to Kaliningrad, which is Russian territory.
It is reportedly worth $100 million.
It was docked in Hamburg since last year, being updated with modifications.
Sen. Bernie Sanders tore into Russian President Vladimir Putin for reportedly moving his super-yacht named ‘Graceful’ earlier this month before his deadly assault on Ukraine
The yacht ‘Graceful’ of Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly worth $100 million
As to why the U.S. keeps imposing sanctions, the president argued they would work with time.
‘No one expected the sanctions to prevent anything from happening. It’s going to take time. And we have to show resolve so he knows what’s coming,’ Biden noted. ‘He is going to test the resolve of the West to see if we stay together.’
Top Biden officials, over the past few weeks, had argued the opposite – saying sanctions were meant to deter Russian aggression.
‘The President believes that sanctions are intended to deter,’ National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said at a February 11th press briefing at the White House.
And Vice President Kamala Harris said on Sunday: ‘The purpose of the sanctions has always been and continues to be deterrence.’
But Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh said the U.S. didn’t use its full arsenal of sanctions because of concerns it would end diplomatic conversations.
‘President Putin might have said, “Look, these people are not serious about diplomacy, they’re not engaging in a good faith effort to promote peace instead they’re escalating,”‘ he said at the White House press briefing.
‘And that could provide a justification for him to escalate and invade. Secondly, he could look at it as a sunk cost. In other words, President Putin could think I’ve already paid the price, why don’t I actually take what I paid for, which is Ukraine’s freedom,’ he added.
Russian armoured vehicles park on roads near the Chernobyl plant, amid fears that damage to the facility could cause a radiation leak that would blanket Europe with fallout
A Russian T-72 tank is pictured sitting in front of the main reactor at Chernobyl after Putin’s forces seized it in a ‘fierce’ battle with the condition of nuclear storage facilities ‘unknown’
This video screen grab shows soldiers of the 53rd Independent Mechanised Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces who have laid down their arms near the village of Petrovskoye, Donetsk Region
A night view of Kyiv as the mayor declared a curfew from 10pm to 7am
President Biden meets holds an emergency meeting with his National Security team in the Situation Room on Thursday morning in the midst of Vladimir Putin’s terrifying invasion of Ukraine from all sides
French President Emmanuel Macron takes part in a video-conference of G7 leaders on Ukraine just hours after Putin launched an all-out assault and launched attacks from multiple fronts
Biden appears in the top left corner of the Zoom meeting after he released a late night statement condemning Putin’s actions and vowing he would pay for the invasion of Ukraine
In this satellite image courtesy of Planet Labs PBC, smoke rises from the Chuhuiv Airbase outside of Kharkiv, Ukraine
Russian Mi-8 attack helicopters stage an assault on Gostomel air base, just on the outskirts of Kyiv, after Vladimir Putin launched an all-out attack on the country
A huge explosion is seen at Vinnytsia military base, in central Ukraine, as the country comes under all-out attack by Russia
An image captured near Kyiv shows what appears to be the wreckage of a downed Russian attack helicopter with a soldier parachuting out of it (to the left of the frame)
U.S. targets families close to Putin and major banking executives in latest round of sanctions
The Treasury Department outlined details on the latest round of Russian officials and oligarchs targeted with sanctions:
Families Close to Putin
Elites close to Putin continue to leverage their proximity to the Russian President to pillage the Russian state, enrich themselves, and elevate their family members into some of the highest positions of power in the country at the expense of the Russian people. Sanctioned oligarchs and powerful Russian elites have used family members to move assets and to conceal their immense wealth. The following designations target influential Russians in Putin’s inner circle and in elite positions of power within the Russian state. Many of these individuals are believed to participate in, or benefit from, the Russian regime’s kleptocracy, along with their family members. Many serve in leadership roles of companies designated or identified today.
Sergei Sergeevich Ivanov, son of Sergei Borisovich Ivanov
Sergei Borisovich Ivanov (Sergei B. Ivanov) is the Special Presidential Representative for Environmental Protection, Ecology, and Transport. Sergei B. Ivanov is reportedly one of Putin’s closest allies and previously served as the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, Deputy Prime Minister, and Defense Minister of Russia. He is also a permanent member of the Security Council of the Russian Federation. Sergei B. Ivanov was previously designated in March 2014 for being an official of the GoR. Sergei Ivanov’s son, Sergei Sergeevich Ivanov (Sergei S. Ivanov), is the current CEO of Russian state-owned diamond mining company Alrosa and a board member of Gazprombank.
OFAC redesignated Sergei B. Ivanov and designated his son Sergei S. Ivanov pursuant to E.O. 14024 for being or having been leaders, officials, senior executive officers, or members of the board of directors of the GoR. Sergei S. Ivanov was also designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for being the spouse or adult child of Sergei B. Ivanov, a person whose property or interests in property are blocked for being or having been a leader, official, senior executive officer, or member of the board of directors of the GoR.
Andrey Patrushev, son of Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev
Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev (Nikolai Patrushev) is the Secretary of the Russian Federation Security Council and is reported to be a longtime close associate of Putin. Nikolai Patrushev was previously designated in April 2018 for being an official of the GoR. Patrushev’s son, Andrey Patrushev, served in leadership roles at Gazprom Neft and is employed in Russia’s energy sector.
OFAC redesignated Nikolai Patrushev and designated his son Andrey Patrushev pursuant to E.O. 14024 for being or having been leaders, officials, senior executive officers, or members of the board of directors of the GoR. Andrey Patrushev was also designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for being the spouse or adult child of Nikolai Patrushev, a person whose property or interests in property are blocked for being or having been a leader, official, senior executive officer, or member of the board of directors of the GoR.
Ivan Igorevich Sechin, son of Igor Ivanovich Sechin
Igor Ivanovich Sechin (Igor Sechin) is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chairman of the Management Board, and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rosneft, one of the world’s largest publicly traded oil companies. Igor Sechin was formerly the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation from 2008 until 2012 and is reportedly a close ally of Putin. Igor Sechin was previously designated in April 2014 pursuant to E.O. 13661 for being an official of the GoR. Igor Sechin’s son, Ivan Igorevich Sechin (Ivan Sechin), is reportedly a deputy head of a department at Rosneft.
OFAC redesignated Igor Sechin pursuant to E.O. 14024 for being or having been a leader, official, senior executive officer, or member of the board of directors of the GoR. Ivan Sechin was designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for being the spouse or adult child of Igor Sechin, a person whose property or interests in property are blocked for being or having been a leader, official, senior executive officer, or member of the board of directors of the GoR.
Financial Sector Elites
Senior executives at state-owned banks, like Kremlin-linked elites, take advantage of their closeness to the Russian power vertical to advance the interests of the Russian state while maintaining an extravagant standard of living.
Alexander Aleksandrovich Vedyakhin (Vedyakhin) is First Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank. OFAC designated Vedyakhin pursuant to E.O. 14024 for being or having been a leader, official, senior executive officer, or member of the board of directors of the GoR.
Andrey Sergeyevich Puchkov (Puchkov) and Yuriy Alekseyevich Soloviev (Soloviev) are two high-ranking VTB Bank executives who work closely with VTB Bank chief executive Andrei Kostin, whom OFAC designated in April 2018 pursuant to E.O. 13661. Puchkov also has other business interests beyond VTB, including Moscow-based real estate companies Limited Liability Company Atlant S and Limited Liability Company Inspira Invest A.
Soloviev’s wife, Galina Olegovna Ulyutina (Ulyutina), was previously implicated in a golden passport scheme.
Meanwhile, Putin, in his own speech on Thursday, warned caution to ‘anyone who tries to interfere with us.’
He also reminded the world that Russia ‘remains one of the most powerful nuclear states’ with ‘a certain advantage in several cutting edge weapons.’
As part of its pressure campaign on the Kremlin, Biden said four more major banks in Russia would be subject to sanctions as will more Russian billionaires. The U.S. and its allies already targered some Russian financial insitutions and members of Putin’s inner circle.
Biden emphasized the international community was backing this effort.
‘We will limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds, and yen,’ he said. ‘Between our actions and those of our allies and partners, we estimate that we will cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports. We will strike a blow through their ability to modernize their military.’
Specifically, the United States targeted Russia’s largest bank Sberbank, which holds nearly one-third of the overall Russian banking sector’s assets, and fully sanctioned Russia’s second largest bank VTB. Both institutions are now fully cut off from the U.S. financial system, which includes processing payments through the U.S. financial system.
The U.S. also cut off 13 major state-owned companies from raising money from the American market.
Families close to Putin were also targeted:
- Sergei Sergeevich Ivanov, a senior Russian official who became friends with Putin when they were in the KGB together
- Andrey Patrushev, a Russian business CEO and banking executive whose father Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev is the former head of Russia Federal Security Services
- Ivan Igorevich Sechin, who works closely with his father Igor Ivanovich Sechin, a Russian oligarch who is considered Putin’s de facto deputy
Russian financial executives were also targed:
- Alexander Aleksandrovich Vedyakhin, the First Deputy Chairman of Executive Board of Sberbank;
- Andrey Sergeyevich Puchkov and Yuriy Alekseyevich Soloviev, two high-ranking VTB Bank executives;
- and Soloviev’s wife Galina Olegovna Ulyutina
The sanctions notably did not target Russian energy companies, a major source of the nation’s wealth. But Biden and his fellow leaders have expressed concern about energy prices particularly as the cold weather lingers.
‘We’re not going to do anything which causes an unintended disruption to the flow of energy as the global economic recovery is still underway,’ he said. ‘Our measures were not designed to disrupt in any way the current flow of energy from Russia to the world.’
Biden also has been presented with a range of options for a cyber security attack on Russia that would hamper its ability to run the invasion. The options include cutting off Russia from the internet and shutting down the switches that control the railway system that is moving troops into position, NBC News reported.
The White House pushed back on the NBC report. Press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted: ‘This report on cyber options being presented to @POTUS is off base and does not reflect what is actually being discussed in any shape or form.’
Ukraine, meanwhile, demanded Russia be kicked out of the SWIFT banking system. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, is a cooperative of financial institutions formed in 1973. It acts as a secure messaging system that links more than 11,000 financial institutions in over 200 countries and territories, alerting banks when transactions are going to occur. To throw Russia out would cut the country off from most international transactions.
Biden ruled it out, however.
‘Right now that’s not the position Europe wishes to take,’ Biden said. ‘The sanctions we imposed exceed SWIFT.’
Biden also announced the deployment of more U.S. forces to NATO allies on the Eastern flank of Europe.
‘The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power,’ he said.
The Pentagon approved deployment of 7,000 more U.S. troops to Germany amid Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the order of President Biden.
The Pentagon has now sent 14,000 U.S. troops to Germany and NATO’s Eastern Flank since Russia’s buildup started. And there are nearly 100,000 American troops in Europe overall.
Biden, in his remarks, reaffirmed there would be no U.S. boots on the ground in the Ukraine.
‘Let me say it again. Our forces are not and will not be engaged in conflict with Russia and Ukraine. Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but to defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the east,’ he said.
Ahead of his speech, Biden met with G7 leaders on Thursday morning to discuss options and coordinate a severe economic and financial response to Putin’s aggression.
The leaders of the seven industralized nations condemned Putin in a strongly-worded statement, saying the Russian president ‘re-introduced war to the European continent.’
‘He has put himself on the wrong side of history,’ the G7 leaders said of Putin after their Thursday morning meeting.
The virtual, closed-door meeting of G7 leaders – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – started at 9:17 a.m while shocking footage emerged of missiles hitting airports and military bases. The leaders concluded their conversation little more than an hour later, at 10:27 a.m.
As the meeting concluded, Ukrainian troops were fighting Russian forces for control of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, 60 miles north of the capital Kyiv, amid fears the battle could damage storage facilities holding nuclear waste sparking a fallout that could blanket Europe.
And the Pentagon said Russian forces are moving to decapitate the Ukrainian government and install their own.
‘Our assessment is they have every intention of decapitating the government and installing their own method of governance,’ a senior defense department official told reporters.
Biden started his day with a meeting of his National Security Council in the Situation Room at the White House as Russian helicopters swooped over Kiev and Putin launched an all-out attack from the north, south and east.
President Biden held a virtual meeting with G7 leaders, speaking from the Situation Room in the White House
The attack has come to Ukraine on all fronts, with bombs and missiles striking targets across the country, ground forces rolling in from Belarus, Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, and paratroopers dropping on Kharkiv
Participants in Thursday G7 meeting on Russian invasion of Ukraine
President Joe Biden of the United States
Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada
President Emmanuel Macron of France
Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen
President of the European Council Charles Michel
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Elsewhere, Kyiv ordered civilians into bomb shelters and declared a curfew amid fears Russia is about to strike the Ukrainian capital as Kyiv’s troops lost control of a key airfield around 15 miles away. Russian forces had attacked it with around two dozen attack helicopters earlier in the day, four of which are thought to have been shot down.
Some Republicans criticized Biden for not immediately addressing the nation on Wednesday night, after the first explosions were heard in Kyiv, which was around 10 p.m. ET in the United States and 6 a.m. in the Ukraine.
Former President Donald Trump was scathing of Biden’s response, telling Fox News in a wild interview that Biden was ‘probably in bed right now’ rather than monitoring developments.
But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president was being updated by Blinken, Defense Secretary Loyld Austin, Joint Chief Chairman General Mark Milley and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
‘@POTUS was briefed on a secure call this evening by Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin, Chairman Milley and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan about the ongoing attack on Ukraine by Russian military forces,’ Psaki tweeted at 11:23 p.m.
Biden also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky late Wednesday night, where he pledged American support.
‘President Zelenskyy reached out to me tonight and we just finished speaking. I condemned this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. I briefed him on the steps we are taking to rally international condemnation,’ Biden said in a statement on the conversation.
International condemnation of Russia’s actions has been swift.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the UK, in concert with our allies,’ would approve ‘a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy.’
The European Union has moved closer to a massive package of sanctions targeting both sectors of the Russian economy and individuals. It’s unclear if Putin himself will be targeted.
EU ambassadors met in Brussels Thursday morning to hash out the response.
The European Union will ‘make it as difficult as possible’ for the Kremlin to pursue its ‘aggressive actions’ in Ukraine, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen warned.
She said the EU will ‘hold Russia accountable for this outrageous violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.’
The U.S. has already issued a series of sanctions, targeting two Russian financial institutions, VTB and Russia’s military bank.
Biden also said Russia’s sovereign debt will be sanctioned so Russia ‘can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade its new debt on our markets, or European markets either.’
Additionally, Biden went after Putin’s inner circle, targetting wealthy Russians who are close to the Russian president: Alex Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, Putin’s deputy chief of staff Sergey Keriyenko, and the CEO of Russian Promsvyazbank, the country’s largest military bank.
And on Wednesday the White House stepped up pressure by imposing sanctions on the firm building the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and its corporate officers, a move Biden had resisted for months.
Putin personally gave the order to attack around 5am, unleashing a salvo of rocket fire that American intelligence said involved more than 100 short and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles, and 75 bombers that targeted military sites including barracks, warehouses and airfields in order to knock out the country’s military command structure.
‘I have decided to conduct a special military operation… to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide… for the last eight years,’ the Russian leader said.
Russia said the strikes destroyed 74 Ukrainian military ground facilities, 11 airfields, three command posts and 18 radar stations controlling Kiev’s anti-aircraft batteries.
The Kremlin launched simultaneous attacks from south, east and north, by land and by air. Missiles and bombs rained from the sky, tanks rolled across the border, helicopters buzzed in and explosions were seen across the country after Putin gave the order to attack.
By midday Thursday, the skies over Kyiv swarmed with Russian attack helicopters which seized control of Gostomel air base.
Russian policemen detain a protestor during rally against entry of Russian troops into Ukraine in St. Petersburg, Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall on his way to a meeting with Russian businessmen at the Kremlin in Moscow
Footage shows smoke supposedly rising on the skyline after the blasts were heard near Mariupol, eastern Ukraine
Smoke rises over Chuhuiv military airfield in eastern Ukraine after a Russian airstrike aimed at taking out the air force
The President condemned Vladimir Putin’s ‘unprovoked and unjustified attack’ on Ukraine in a statement soon after war was declared 11.43pm US time. He said ‘the prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight’
Zelensky, in an address to the nation on Thursday morning, said the history of Ukraine has now changed forever and that Russia has ’embarked on a path of evil’ – comparing the Russian attack to Hitler’s forces in World War Two. But he vowed to fight back, saying the military has already inflicted ‘serious losses’ on Russia.
He called on all Ukrainian citizens willing to defend their homeland to step forward, saying guns will be issued to everyone who wants one. He also asked for civilians to give blood to help wounded troops. And he asked world leaders to impose the ‘harshest sanctions possible’ on Putin.
But Putin issued a chilling warning to any country thinking of coming to Ukraine’s aid, vowing ‘consequences greater than any you have faced in history’.
‘I hope I have been heard,’ he said.
How the Ukraine invasion unfolded minute-by-minute: Russian shells rain down on Mariupol at 3.30am, Putin declares war two hours later and then all hell breaks loose across nation and capital Kyiv
Russian launched total war on Ukraine today, with missiles raining from the sky, tanks rolling across the border from Belarus , and masses of paratroopers descending on eastern regions after Vladimir Putin personally gave the order to attack.
‘Hundreds’ of Ukrainian troops have already been killed in early clashes, Kyiv said, as the fight came to them on all fronts at a moment’s notice. Cruise missiles, guided bombs and GRAD rockets took out targets from east to west – aimed at airfields, military bases, ammo dumps, and command posts including in the capital.
The first sign an invasion was imminent came at just before 12am Ukrainian time (10pm in the UK), when Russian-backed rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine issued a request for military assistance from Moscow in what is being widely seen as a ‘False Flag’ operation to justify Putin’s decision to attack.
Moments later, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a defiant message to the nation, vowing his countrymen would ‘fight back’ in the event of an invasion, telling Moscow: ‘When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs.’
A frenzied string of diplomatic manoeuvres, including an emergency UN Security Council meeting in New York, were not enough to dissuade Putin, who declared a ‘special military operation’ at around 3am Ukraine time.
At around 6am, Zelenskyy declared martial law in a video message filmed on his phone, urging his people ‘not to panic’ and promising: ‘We will win over everybody because we are Ukraine.’
As Europe faced its worst military crisis for decades, here is how this morning’s dramatic events unfolded, minute by minute. All times are shown first in Ukrainian time with the GMT equivalent following in brackets.
‘We will fight back’: Ukrainian president delivers emotional TV address
Volodymyr Zelenskyy vows the Ukrainian people will ‘fight back’ if Putin launches a full-scale invasion.
His comments follow a request by Moscow-backed rebel leaders in the east of the country for military assistance to fend off Ukrainian ‘aggression’ – considered by the West to be a ‘false flag’ to justify an invasion.
A solemn President Zelenskyy says: ‘The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace.
‘But if we come under attack, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs.’
The Ukrainian president says he tried to call Putin earlier in the evening, but there was ‘no answer, only silence’, adding that Moscow has around 200,000 soldiers by Ukraine’s borders.
At Ukraine’s request, the United Nations Security Council quickly schedules an emergency meeting – the second in three days.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba calls the separatists’ request ‘a further escalation of the security situation.’
Ukraine readies for conflict and enters a month-long state of emergency, effective at midnight.
Explosions heard in strategically important port city of Mariupol
Residents in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol are woken up at 3.30am by the sound of explosions.
Video footage appears to show clouds of smoke rising up into the night sky nearby, but it is unconfirmed whether this is as a result of shelling.
Mariupol, located on the Black Sea 50 miles from the Russian border, handles 50 per cent Ukraine’s steel and mineral exports.
Taking the strategic location would give the people’s republics of Donbas access to the sea, and choke off a vital economic artery for Ukraine’s legitimate government.
4:30am (2:30am GMT)
UN meeting where Ukraine’s ambassador tells Russian counterpart: ‘war criminals go straight to hell’
The UN Security Council holds an extraordinary emergency meeting in New York to try to dissuade Russia from sending troops into Ukraine.
During the charged session, Ukrainian ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya implores the council, chaired by Russia, to ‘do everything possible to stop the war’.
He demands that Russia’s ambassador relinquish his duties as chair.
‘There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, ambassador,’ a visibly emotional Kyslytsya says.
At a charged UN Security Council meeting, Ukrainian ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told his Russian counterpart: ‘There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, ambassador’
Secretary General Antonio Guterres urges Putin to stop his tanks.
‘If indeed an operation is being prepared, I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart,’ he says.
‘President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died.’
Mr Guterres says he is witnessing, ‘the saddest moment in my tenure as Secretary General of the United Nations’ and that Europe risks, ‘the worst war since the beginning of the century’.
Afterwards, he warns Russian action would not only be ‘devastating for Ukraine’ and ‘tragic’ for Russia ‘but with an impact we can not even foresee in relation to their consequences for the global economy.’
‘In a moment when we are emerging from Covid and so many developing countries absolutely need to have space for the recovery, which would be very, very difficult with the high prices of oil, with the exports of wheat from Ukraine and with rising interest rates caused by instability in international markets,’ he adds.
5am (3am GMT)
Putin’s announces ‘special military operation’ and threatens West
Putin announces a ‘special military operation’ in eastern Ukraine, claiming it’s intended to protect civilians.
In a televised address, Putin says the action comes in response to threats coming from Ukraine.
He claimed Russia wanted to ‘de-Nazify, not occupy’ Ukraine. Putin says the responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian ‘regime.’
Putin warns countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action will lead to ‘consequences they have never seen.’
The strongman could be seen wearing the same suit and red tie he wore on Monday to lay out his factually inaccurate version of Ukraine’s history, saying essentially that it was always part of Russia.
In hindsight, Putin’s attempts to rewrite history at his convenience, could be interpreted as evidence that he had already decided to invade Ukraine, and that he misled leaders in the West who pleaded with him for diplomacy.
5:30am (3:30am GMT)
Explosions are heard in Kyiv just minutes after Putin’s speech ends
Following the end of Putin’s speech, explosions are reported in Kyiv, Odessa, Ukraine’s third-largest city, as well as the city of Kramatorsk in the eastern Donetsk region.
A CNN reporter in Kyiv says: ‘I just heard a big bang right here behind me. I’ve never heard anything like it.’
Matthew Chance, Senior International correspondent for the network, says he heard between seven and eight blasts.
Chance quickly put on his flak jacket and headgear while he continued to report from a balcony in the Ukrainian capital.
A CNN reporter in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv puts on a flak jacket as he hears explosions just after 5.30am
‘There are big explosions taking place. I can’t see them or explain what they are. but I will tell you the U.S has warned the Ukrainian authorities there could be air strikes and ground attacks as well around the country, including the capital.
‘I don’t know if that’s what’s occurring now but it’s a remarkable coincidence that the explosions come just minutes after Putin gave his speech,’ Chance explained.
‘This is the first time we’ve heard anything. It has been absolutely silent. This is the first time. It has to be more than just a coincidence.
‘I think it’s safe where I am. I have a flak jacket,’ Chance remarked before ducking down to put on his protective gear.
He suggested that the blasts he heard were still some distance away from the centre.
6am (4am GMT)
Ukrainian president declares martial law
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy imposes martial law and urges his people to stay at home and not panic as Russian troops pour into the country.
In a video message published shortly after the Kremlin began its attacks across Ukraine, Zelenskyy says Russia has carried out missile strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure and border guards, and that explosions have been heard in many cities.
The Ukrainian President also says he had spoken by telephone to US President Joe Biden.
He pleads: ‘Dear Ukrainian citizens, this morning President Putin announced a special military operation in Donbas. Russia conducted strikes on our military infrastructure and our border guards. There were blasts heard in many cities of Ukraine. We’re introducing martial law on the whole territory of our country.
‘A minute ago I had a conversation with President Biden. The US has already started uniting international support. Today each of you should keep calm. Stay at home if you can. We are working. The Army is working.
‘The whole sector of defence and security is working. No panic. We are strong. We are ready for everything. We will win over everybody because we are Ukraine.’
Paratroopers drop into Ukraine’s second largest city as Russians launch multiple attacks
From around 6am and onwards
Footage appears to show masses of paratroopers landing in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s largest city.
The US appeared to know an invasion was about to happen, according to ABC’s Martha Raddatz.
She said she received a text from a senior Pentagon official three hours before the invasion saying: ‘You are likely in the last few hours of peace on the European continent for a long time to come. Be careful.’
As violence spreads, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, writes on Facebook that the Russian military have launched missile strikes on Ukrainian military command facilities, air bases and military depots in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro.
Later in the morning, five Russian jets are reportedly shot out of the sky over the Donbass before Moscow boasts of taking out all anti-aircraft defences, giving them control of the skies.
Ukrainian border guards say they have come under attack by heavy artillery, tanks and troops from Russia and Belarus – as Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko throws his forces into the fight.
Luhansk, Sumy, Kharkiv and Chernihiv in the east of Ukraine are all reported as coming under attack, but blasts are also reported in the west – in Zhytomyr and Lviv, close to the border with Poland.
Extraordinary video footage shows what appears to be a cruise missile slamming into Ivano-Frankivsk airport, also in the west.
Meanwhile pro-Russian rebel forces push out from the occupied Donbass region, capturing two villages and claiming to have shot two Ukrainian jets out of the skies. The port city of Odessa, where Ukraine’s main naval base is located, also comes under attack.