Russia launched its invasion by land, air, and sea on Thursday following a declaration of war by President Vladimir Putin. An estimated 100,000 people fled as explosions and gunfire rocked major cities. Dozens have been reported killed.
U.S. and Ukrainian officials say Russia aims to capture Kyiv and topple the government, which Putin regards as a puppet of the United States. Russian troops seized the Chernobyl former nuclear power plant north of Kyiv as they advanced along the shortest route to Kyiv from Belarus to the north.
Here is what you need to know about the Russia-Ukraine crisis right now:
Missile strike hits border post in southeast Ukraine
A missile strike hit a Ukrainian border post in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhya, killing and wounding some guards, the border guard service said on Friday.
The region has no land border with Russia, which launched a military operation against Ukraine on Thursday, but is located on the coast of the Azov Sea which the neighbors share.
Ukraine’s president vows to stay put as Russian invaders approach
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed on Friday to stay in Kyiv as his troops battled Russian invaders advancing toward the capital in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.
“(The) enemy has marked me down as the number one target,” Zelenskiy warned in a video message. “My family is the number two target. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.”
“I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine.”
Putin says Russia is carrying out “a special military operation” to stop the Ukrainian government from committing genocide against its own people – an accusation the West calls baseless. He also says Ukraine is an illegitimate state whose lands historically belong to Russia.
Kyiv residents defiant as curfew imposed after Russian invasion
The mayor of Kyiv imposed a curfew on Thursday after Russia invaded Ukraine and the capital echoed throughout the day to the sound of gunfire, sirens and explosions.
Many people tried to flee for safer areas, snarling traffic. Black smoke rose from a defenseu ministry headquarters, a missile caused minor damage after landing in the city and officials said a nearby airport was attacked.
Biden says U.S., partners working on global oil reserve release
President Joe Biden said on Thursday the United States is working with other countries on a combined release of additional oil from global strategic crude reserves, and a source with knowledge of the talks said the plan was in the “early stages.”
Prices for international crude benchmark Brent shot above $105 a barrel after Russia, one of the world’s top oil producers, attacked Ukraine. High oil prices have fed inflation as fuel demand recovers from the pandemic.
“We are actively working with countries around the world to elevate collective release from the strategic petroleum reserves of major energy-consuming countries,” Biden told reporters. “The United States will release additional barrels of oil as conditions warrant.”
“Frank, direct, and quick”
French President Emmanuel Macron said he held a “frank, direct and quick” phone call with Putin on Thursday to ask him to stop military operations because Zelenskiy had asked him to.
PM Johnson unveils UK’s largest-ever sanctions against Russia
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled Britain’s largest-ever package of sanctions against Russia on Thursday, targeting banks, members of President Vladimir Putin’s closest circle and wealthy Russians who enjoy high-rolling London lifestyles.
Western nations are coordinating action to impose tough sanctions against Russia in response to its all-out invasion on neighbouring Ukraine by staging missile strikes on cities and pouring its troops into the country.
EU says “Putin must and will fail” as it agrees new sanctions
President Vladimir Putin “must and will fail,” top European Union leaders said on Friday as they agreed new sanctions over his invasion of Ukraine, saying he was trying to bring the continent back to the age of empires and confrontations.
Russia launched its invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday following a declaration of war by Putin. An estimated 100,000 people fled as explosions and gunfire rocked major cities. Dozens have been reported killed.
The bloc’s leaders agreed in principle at an emergency overnight summit to impose new economic sanctions, joining the United States and others in taking steps such as curbing Russia’s access to technologies.
The EU will freeze Russian assets in the bloc and halt its banks’ access to European financial markets as part of what EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described as “the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented”.
US imposes sanctions on Russia
‘I don’t know what to do’: fleeing Ukrainians start arriving in central Europe
Thousands of Ukrainians fleeing war with Russia started arriving in neighbouring central European countries on Thursday and the region braced for many more, setting up reception points and sending troops towards the borders to provide assistance.
The countries on the European Union’s eastern flank were all once part of the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact and are now members of NATO. Among them, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania all share land borders with Ukraine.