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Explosions have been heard in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, as fears mount that shelling is underway.

Residents in the city, which is located in south eastern Ukraine, have been woken up at 3.30am this morning by blasts 30 miles from the Russian border.

Video footage showed clouds of smoke rising up into the night sky in Mariupol, but it was unconfirmed whether it was as a result of shelling.

The explosions come just hours after the U.S. warned the Ukrainian government that Putin’s troops are ‘ready to go now’ with an invasion of Ukraine, with 80 per cent of Russian soldiers now assembled around the country in attack positions.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken issued a further stark warning and said he believed Russia will invade before the night is over. 

And in a further worrisome move, Russia issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) which closed the airspace in Ukraine to all civilian air traffic. 

Explosions have been heard in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, as fears mount that shelling is underway.

Explosions have been heard in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, as fears mount that shelling is underway.

Explosions have been heard in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, as fears mount that shelling is underway.

Russian armored vehicles are loaded onto railway platforms at a railway station in the Rostov-on-Don region, not far from Russia-Ukraine border, on Wednesday

Russian armored vehicles are loaded onto railway platforms at a railway station in the Rostov-on-Don region, not far from Russia-Ukraine border, on Wednesday

Russian armored vehicles are loaded onto railway platforms at a railway station in the Rostov-on-Don region, not far from Russia-Ukraine border, on Wednesday

Putin has recognised two areas in eastern Ukraine as independent and authorised Russian troops to go in on 'peacekeeping' missions. Rebels already hold part of that territory (in red) but Putin has recognised a much-wider region (yellow) amid fears he will now try to seize it. There are also fears he is preparing to attack Kharkiv in Ukraine (green) after massing forces nearby

Putin has recognised two areas in eastern Ukraine as independent and authorised Russian troops to go in on 'peacekeeping' missions. Rebels already hold part of that territory (in red) but Putin has recognised a much-wider region (yellow) amid fears he will now try to seize it. There are also fears he is preparing to attack Kharkiv in Ukraine (green) after massing forces nearby

Putin has recognised two areas in eastern Ukraine as independent and authorised Russian troops to go in on ‘peacekeeping’ missions. Rebels already hold part of that territory (in red) but Putin has recognised a much-wider region (yellow) amid fears he will now try to seize it. There are also fears he is preparing to attack Kharkiv in Ukraine (green) after massing forces nearby 

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed that the Ukrainian people will 'fight back' if Vladimir Putin threatens their freedom and lives by launching a full-scale invasion

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed that the Ukrainian people will 'fight back' if Vladimir Putin threatens their freedom and lives by launching a full-scale invasion

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed that the Ukrainian people will ‘fight back’ if Vladimir Putin threatens their freedom and lives by launching a full-scale invasion

Ukraine‘s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier tonight vowed that the Ukrainian people will ‘fight back’ if Putin threatens their freedom and lives by launching a full-scale invasion.

President Zelenskyy made an emotional address to his nation after Moscow-backed rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine asked Putin for military assistance in fending off Ukrainian ‘aggression’ – a move which has fuelled fears the Russian strongman will use it as an excuse to invade Ukraine. 

In an emotional televised address tonight, President Zelenskyy said: ‘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 lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs.’ 

The Ukrainian President said he had tried to call Putin this evening, but there was ‘no answer, only silence’, adding that Moscow now has around 200,000 soldiers by Ukraine’s borders.  

The United Nations Security Council quickly scheduled an emergency meeting Wednesday night – the second in three days – at Ukraine’s request. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the separatists’ request ‘a further escalation of the security situation.’ 

Earlier today, Ukraine was placed on a war footing: A state of emergency was declared and approved by parliament, 200,000 military reservists called up, border zones were restricted and three million Ukrainians told to leave Russia, with Kiev acknowledging for the first time that an attack could now take place anywhere, at any time.

U.S. President Joe Biden today warned President Zelenskyy of an ‘imminent’ attack by Putin’s troops in the next 48 hours, just hours after Ukraine was hit by a ‘massive’ cyberattack targeting its government and banks.  

But Blinken cut that time frame of a Russian invasion drastically and said on Wednesday he expected Russia to invade Ukraine before the night was over.  

U.S. intelligence chiefs fear Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is at particular risk of being targeted in a Russian invasion as it is close to the Ukrainian-Russian border. Last night, a huge military convoy of more than 100 trucks with soldiers were heading in the direction of the city. 

This is a breaking news story, more to follow… 

Vladimir Putin praised the battle readiness of his armies and boasted of developing hypersonic weapons as he called Russia’s security interests ‘non-negotiable’ in an address to mark Defender of the Fatherland Day today

Boris Johnson is briefed by the Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin at the Ministry of Defence on the situation in Ukraine on Tuesday

Boris Johnson is briefed by the Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin at the Ministry of Defence on the situation in Ukraine on Tuesday

Boris Johnson is briefed by the Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin at the Ministry of Defence on the situation in Ukraine on Tuesday

A Russian attack on Ukraine could start in the Donbass region (top right) with attempts to expand rebel-held areas, that could either be in coordination with or before a much wider assault on the entire country (top right). Should the fighting spill over Ukraine's borders, it could drag in NATO forces stationed in Europe (bottom centre)

A Russian attack on Ukraine could start in the Donbass region (top right) with attempts to expand rebel-held areas, that could either be in coordination with or before a much wider assault on the entire country (top right). Should the fighting spill over Ukraine's borders, it could drag in NATO forces stationed in Europe (bottom centre)

A Russian attack on Ukraine could start in the Donbass region (top right) with attempts to expand rebel-held areas, that could either be in coordination with or before a much wider assault on the entire country (top right). Should the fighting spill over Ukraine’s borders, it could drag in NATO forces stationed in Europe (bottom centre)

Source: DailyMail

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