As Russia attacks Ukraine, with reports of troops crossing the border to the north and south, explosions in multiple cities including the capital Kyiv and warnings from Russian President Vladimir Putin of bloodshed unless Ukrainian forces lay down their arms, an adviser to Ukraine’s president says about 40 people have been killed so far in the Russian attack on the country.
Oleksii Arestovich, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that several dozen people have been wounded, AP reported. However, the advisor didn’t specify whether the casualties included civilians.
Quoting Zelenskyy, the report said the Ukrainian authorities will hand weapons to all those willing to defend the country.
“The future of the Ukrainian people depends on every Ukrainian,” he said, urging all those who can defend the country to come to the Interior Ministry’s assembly facilities.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey has called on the NATO member country to close its airspace and to shut down the straits at the entrance of the Black Sea to Russian ships.
“We are calling for the airspace, Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to be closed,” Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar told reporters on Thursday.
“We have conveyed our relevant demand to the Turkish side. At the same time, we want sanctions imposed on the Russian side.”
A 1936 convention gives Turkey control over the straits connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, and allows it to limit the passage of warships during wartime or if Turkey is threatened, the news agency reported.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened an emergency security meeting to discuss the Russian attack on Ukraine.
Turkey, which enjoys close relations with both Ukraine and Russia, had been pressing for a diplomatic solution to the tensions.
As per a report by CNN, the offensive that Russia called a “special military operation” came as world leaders attempted to avert catastrophe with a meeting of the United Nations Security Council amid warnings that a possible invasion could start the biggest war in Europe since 1945.
The first blasts were heard at around 5 a.m. Thursday, prompting immediate condemnation from the United States and its allies, which have threatened to enact “full scale” sanctions in response to Russian military aggression.
As air raid sirens rang out across Kyiv early Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky moved to enact martial law and government ministers accused Moscow of launching a “full scale invasion.
As dawn broke, heavy traffic could be seen clogging roads heading west out of the city, while further east, near the Russian border, the mayor of Kharkiv urged citizens not to leave their homes, the report said.
Inhabitants of Kyiv leave the city following pre-offensive missile strikes of the Russian armed forces and Belarus on February 24.
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on his official page that “peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strike” and called the situation “a war of aggression.” And, an adviser for the Ukraine Interior Minister, Anton Gerashchenko, told journalists Russia’s “invasion has begun” with “missile strikes on Kyiv,” the capital.
As per the CNN report, it was witnessed through a Livestream video, troops atop a column of military vehicles entering Ukraine from a border crossing with Belarus.
The Livestream video was taken at the Senkivka, Ukraine crossing with Veselovka, Belarus. The column was seen entering Ukraine around 6:48 am local time.
In recent weeks, Russia has amassed a significant number of troops, vehicles, and tanks in Belarus near the border with Ukraine. During that time, the two countries have held joint military exercises across the countries, and near the Belarus-Ukrainian border.