Russia Batters Ukraine With Artillery Strikes as West Condemns Invasion

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — The Russian navy plunged into Ukraine by land, sea and air on Thursday, killing greater than 100 Ukrainian troopers and civilians, and ominously touching off a pitched battle on the extremely radioactive space across the Chernobyl nuclear reactor that melted down in 1986.

Day 1 of the primary main land conflict in Europe in many years started earlier than dawn with the terrifying thud of artillery strikes on airports and navy installations throughout Ukraine. A senior Pentagon official mentioned that three traces of Russian troops and navy forces had been shifting swiftly towards Ukrainian cities — one heading south from Belarus towards Kyiv, the capital; one other towards Kharkiv, in northeast Ukraine; and a 3rd towards Kherson within the south, close to Crimea. The forces had been utilizing missiles and long-range artillery, the official mentioned.

By sundown, Russian particular forces and airborne troops had been pushing into the outskirts of Kyiv. Whereas the last word objective of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, and his generals remained unclear, American officers assessed that the top recreation was seemingly the substitute of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s authorities with a Russian-controlled puppet regime.

Late on Thursday night, Mr. Zelensky remained in place as commander in chief, and Ukrainian forces, which officers mentioned had shot down a number of Russian jets and a helicopter, had been engaged in fierce battles all alongside a broad entrance line to take care of management over their nation. In an handle to the nation, which remained below a curfew, Mr. Zelensky mentioned 137 Ukrainian troopers had been killed.

The deadly realities spurred tens of hundreds of Ukrainians to flee by automobile or bus towards the far-western a part of the nation, which was deemed safer, snarling the roads, and there have been lengthy traces at fuel stations.

The day additionally ended with Russian forces in charge of the power at Chernobyl, based on Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s workplace, although the situation of the plant and its nuclear waste storage services was unknown.

The invasion prompted a right away outcry world wide and — to a lesser however nonetheless shocking extent — throughout Russia itself.

President Biden denounced Mr. Putin for launching a “brutal assault on the individuals of Ukraine,” and added, “Now he and his nation will bear the implications.”

He mentioned america was freezing trillions of {dollars} in Russian property, together with the funds managed by Russian elites and their households, and that it might prohibit Russia’s entry to high-tech imports, impairing their navy and their industrial capability.

He additionally mentioned the U.S. would ship extra troops to Jap European international locations within the NATO alliance.

“This aggression can’t go unanswered,” Mr. Biden mentioned. “If it did, the implications for America can be a lot worse. America stands as much as bullies. We get up for freedom. That is who we’re.”

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced that the nation would ban flights by Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship airline, and he vowed to increase sanctions, including 100 firms, entities and wealthy oligarchs, in addition to limiting exports to Russia of British know-how.

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, referred to as the Russian invasion a forcible try to shift European borders and “maybe even to wipe a whole nation off the world map” in a televised handle to Germans.

On account of the sanctions, the Russian inventory market nose-dived, dropping a 3rd of its worth, whereas the ruble fell to a file low trade charge.

Japan introduced on Friday morning that it might impose additional sanctions on Russia, together with export controls on semiconductors. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida mentioned Japan would additionally freeze property of focused people and teams affiliated with Russia and management exports to navy organizations in Russia.

And European Union leaders assembly into the early hours on Friday mentioned they’d accredited a brand new, important package deal of sanctions towards Russia to incorporate bans on massive financial institution deposits within the European Union, visa limitations for diplomatic and different privileged passport holders, and halts in exports to Russia of quite a few technological items, together with semiconductors.

Some responses had been extra tepid. Brazil referred to as for a peaceable answer that “takes under consideration the authentic safety pursuits of all events concerned.”

In China, which has developed shut ties with Mr. Putin, Wang Yi, the international minister, repeated that his nation believed that the territorial integrity of all international locations needs to be revered, whereas noting the complexity of the Ukraine problem and Russia’s “authentic” safety considerations, based on Chinese language state media.

In a considerably troubling signal for Mr. Putin, hundreds of Russians defied the rule stipulating that protests consist solely of lone pickets, a measure Mr. Putin had pushed as he moved to undermine most opposition teams.

Chanting “No to conflict!”, individuals took to the streets from St. Petersburg to Siberia, in additional than 50 cities total, based on OVD Data, a rights group, which mentioned that greater than 1,700 protesters had been arrested nationwide.

Few Russian political or enterprise leaders dared query the transfer, however some well-known singers, theater administrators and tv personalities criticized the conflict, risking their entry to state cash and broadcasts.

Nonetheless, Mr. Putin was firm. In a rambling early morning speech, he made clear that his ambitions prolonged past Ukraine and included upending the American-led world order. He denounced what he referred to as america’ “empire of lies.” And he threatened extreme penalties for any nation that attempted to intrude with him, ominously reminding the world that Russia “stays probably the most highly effective nuclear states.”

The invasion rattled markets early within the day and despatched oil costs hovering, at one level previous $105 a barrel. Vitality costs fell after Mr. Biden mentioned america and different nations had been contemplating a mixed launch of oil from strategic reserves, and the S&P 500 rallied to shut with a small achieve.

Among the many most alarming reviews of Thursday’s armed battle got here from the poisonous marshes of the protecting zone surrounding Chernobyl, the positioning of the worst nuclear accident in historical past; the shortest direct route from Belarus to Kyiv cuts via a portion of it.

By Thursday afternoon, “nationwide guard troops answerable for defending the storage unit for harmful radioactive waste” had been “placing up fierce resistance,” Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s inside minister, mentioned on Fb, warning of a disaster if a shell struck it. Late within the day Ukraine reported that Russia had taken management of the power.

In the long run, the conflict seemed to be enjoying out precisely because the American intelligence neighborhood mentioned it might when officers first warned concerning the threatening motion of Russian troops towards Ukraine’s borders final fall.

Over many months, the Russian navy moved troopers and heavy gear in plain view of the world, surrounding Ukraine on three sides and drawing more and more alarmed warnings from the White Home about an imminent assault. All of the whereas, Russian leaders together with Mr. Putin adamantly denied having any such intention.

In his early morning speech Thursday, Mr. Putin confirmed what many, together with Ukraine’s personal leaders and far of the Russian populace, had for months refused to consider: that the Russian navy was invading Ukraine.

“A choice was taken by me to hold out a particular navy motion,” Mr. Putin introduced.

It was an ungainly, passive-voiced declaration of conflict, which nonetheless touched off a calamity that might form the face of Europe for years to return. Nearly as quickly as Mr. Putin delivered his speech, the assault started.

Russia hit airports and navy installations all around the nation, shattering glass in close by residence buildings and jolting Ukrainian residents even miles away right into a terrifying new actuality.

At the least 18 navy officers had been killed in an assault outdoors the Black Sea metropolis of Odessa, the place amphibious commandos from the Russian Navy got here ashore, based on Sergey Nazarov, an aide to Odessa’s mayor.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington, Oksana Markarova, mentioned dozens of civilians had been killed, and pleaded with the world to supply extra assist.

On the United Nations Safety Council, america proposed a decision that may order Russian troops out of Ukraine instantly and unconditionally. The decision, which can seemingly be voted on Friday, will nearly definitely be vetoed by Russia. However approval by a big majority of the council’s different 14 members might reinforce Moscow’s world isolation.

Ukraine’s international minister, Dmytro Kuleba, mentioned that the nation was dealing with “a full-scale assault from a number of instructions” however that it “continues to defend itself.”

Russian forces fired greater than 160 missiles at targets round Ukraine, primarily short-range ballistic rockets, but in addition cruise missiles and rockets fired from the Black Sea, based on the senior Pentagon official, who spoke on situation of anonymity to debate delicate navy assessments. As many as 75 Russian plane entered the fray, the official mentioned.

The targets had been primarily navy: barracks, ammunition depots and air fields, the official mentioned.

The Russian Protection Ministry mentioned in a press release on Thursday that its forces had destroyed greater than 70 navy targets in Ukraine, together with 11 airfields, three command factors and a naval base. Russian forces additionally downed one helicopter and 4 Bayraktar TB2 drones, mentioned Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the ministry’s spokesman, talking from Moscow. He mentioned that Russia had misplaced one fighter jet due to a “piloting error.”

By Thursday night Russian Armed Forces had reached town of Kherson, situated simply south of the Crimean peninsula, and unblocked the North Crimean Canal, mentioned a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Protection. For Russia it was a serious piece of unfinished enterprise, reversing a Ukrainian water blockade imposed after Russia seized the peninsula in 2014.

In whole for the reason that starting of the operation, Russian forces destroyed 83 Ukrainian navy infrastructure objects, 4 fighter jets, one helicopter and 4 drones, the spokesman mentioned.

Video verified by The Occasions confirmed at the least half a dozen Russian helicopters flying west over the Dnieper river towards Hostomel, a city on the outskirts of the capital, with some helicopters apparently attacking Hostomel’s airport. One video launched by Ukraine’s armed forces appeared to point out at the least a type of helicopters being shot down.

As horrific as the primary day was, the senior Pentagon official mentioned it was solely the start. Russian troops seen crossing into Ukraine on Thursday represented solely a fraction of what the navy had deployed alongside the Ukraine border, the official mentioned.

Although the Ukrainian military is badly outgunned and outmanned by Russian forces, it did report some successes. The navy mentioned it had shot down a number of Russian fighter plane and a helicopter in an more and more intense battle to take care of management over key cities. Ukrainian troops had additionally repelled Russian advances on two main cities: Kharkiv, within the northeast, and Chernihiv within the north, a senior Ukrainian navy official mentioned.

In Kramatorsk, in jap Ukraine, about 100 males, ranging in age from their 20s to 50s, turned up at a navy recruitment workplace even because the boring thuds of explosions could possibly be heard from the path of the city’s navy airport.

They packed right into a hall and crammed out types, heeding a name from Ukraine’s protection minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, who requested all ready residents to instantly enlist with the nation’s territorial protection models.

“The enemy is attacking, however our military is indestructible,” he mentioned. “Ukraine is shifting into all-out protection mode.”

Michael Schwirtz reported from Slovyansk, Ukraine; Eric Schmitt from Washington; and Neil MacFarquhar from New York. Reporting was contributed by Andrew E. Kramer from Kramatorsk, Ukraine; Valerie Hopkins from Kyiv, Ukraine; Ivan Nechepurenko and Oleg Matsnev from Moscow; Matina Stevis-Gridneff from Brussels; Motoko Wealthy from Tokyo; Helene Cooper from Washington; and Farnaz Fassihi from New York.