On the first day of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, 137 people were left dead in one of the worst crises in Europe since the World War-2. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday sprang an unpleasant surprise as he launched a full-scale invasion in Ukraine where major cities – including the capital cities of Kyiv – came under military strikes. Visuals of destruction flooded social media as world leaders expressed horror and made urgent appeals of restraint and calm.
Here are ten updates on Russia’s attack on Ukraine:
1. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pledged on Friday to stay in Kyiv as the capital sees one of the biggest battles of Europe since World War -2. “(The) enemy has marked me down as the number one target. 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,” he said in a video message, news agency Reuters reported. On Thursday, as Ukraine woke up to air raid sirens, he had appealed for calm.
2. “Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won’t give up its freedom,” Zelensky asserted in a tweet. 137 “heroes,” including 10 military officers, had been killed and 316 people wounded, he said in a video address.
3. India too is trying to get about 16,000 people back to home to safety from Ukraine. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a phone call with Putin on Thursday night; the foreign ministry is chalking out a list of land routes for evacuation.
4. The United States has hit Russia with fresh sanctions even as President Joe Biden admitted that the sanctions may not be enough to stop Putin, saying, “Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences.” He described him as “sinister vision of the world” with misguided dream of recreating the Soviet Union.
5. In fresh US sanctions, Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen has been targetted. Five major banks – including state-backed Sberbank and VTB – and Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, are on the list.
6. On Thursday, Russia targeted government and military installations in Ukraine as the attack quickly escalated forcing Ukraine to close airspace – satellite images from Europe showed what seemed like a big hole above Ukraine as other nations saw business as usual.
7. On Thursday, Ukraine lost control of Chernobyl Power Plant, the site of 1986 disaster. The White House said it has credible reports that hostages were held at the nuclear power plant.
8. Global markets shuddered on Thursday as Russia launched military offensive. In the US, wholesale prices rose for everything from gasoline to wheat, reports said.
9. World condemnation has followed and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called Russia’s attack “a brutal act of war”, stressing that Moscow had shattered peace on the European continent. On Thursday, Putin had warned of the “greatest consequences in the global history” if the West intervened.
10. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he aimed to cut off Russia from the U.K.’s financial markets. In his list of sanctions, he froze the assets of all large Russian banks. “Now we see him for what he is — a bloodstained aggressor who believes in imperial conquest,” Johnson said of Putin.
(With inputs from Reuters, AFP, AP)