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With many suggesting that war had been declared overnight Wednesday heading into Thursday, residents in Kiev appeared to be filling up on gas and trying to exit the city via car and rail this morning just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin moved in with tanks over the Belarusian border.

The reality of war has finally dawned on many Ukrainian residents who were in denial that Putin would actually invade. Many are now rushing for the western border to escape the incoming tanks as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared martial law.  

Explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital and other major cities following Vladimir Putin’s announcement that a military operation had begun.

Photos and video showed Ukrainians driving out of Kiev Thursday morning, as air raid sirens wailed across the capital.  

Many were either heading for the exits or lining up in lengthy queues for gasoline, with some stopping at ATMs beforehand. 

Intense lines were also seen at Kiev’s Metro station with people attempting to get onto trains to flee the city. Some were just heading into the station to take refuge.

The Russian president announced the action during a televised address early on Thursday morning, saying the move was a response to threats from Ukraine.

He adds that Russia doesn’t have a goal to occupy Ukraine. Putin says the responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian ‘regime.’

Putin also is warning other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action will lead to ‘consequences they have never seen.’ 

Inhabitants of Kyiv leave the city following pre-offensive missile strikes of the Russian armed forces

Inhabitants of Kyiv leave the city following pre-offensive missile strikes of the Russian armed forces

Inhabitants of Kyiv leave the city following pre-offensive missile strikes of the Russian armed forces

Early morning explosions were heard and seen across several cities in the Ukraine

Early morning explosions were heard and seen across several cities in the Ukraine

Early morning explosions were heard and seen across several cities in the Ukraine

Residents were seen traveling to work even as air raid sirens were heard

Residents were seen traveling to work even as air raid sirens were heard

Residents were seen traveling to work even as air raid sirens were heard

People queue at an ATM in Mariupol after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine

People queue at an ATM in Mariupol after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine

People queue at an ATM in Mariupol after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine

A man named Alexander (right) reassures his son as the family takes refuge in a metro station in Kyiv

A man named Alexander (right) reassures his son as the family takes refuge in a metro station in Kyiv

A man named Alexander (right) reassures his son as the family takes refuge in a metro station in Kyiv

Some cars were seen driving to the city's exits after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine

Some cars were seen driving to the city's exits after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine

Some cars were seen driving to the city’s exits after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine

People queue for fuel at a gas station in Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region

People queue for fuel at a gas station in Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region

People queue for fuel at a gas station in Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region

Residents of the capital are leaving the city

Residents of the capital are leaving the city

Residents of the capital are leaving the city

Cars stand in a long line near a gas station as they wait to fuel up

Cars stand in a long line near a gas station as they wait to fuel up

Cars stand in a long line near a gas station as they wait to fuel up

People, some carrying bags and suitcases, walk at a metro station in Kyiv early on February 24

People, some carrying bags and suitcases, walk at a metro station in Kyiv early on February 24

People, some carrying bags and suitcases, walk at a metro station in Kyiv early on February 24

Prior to Thursday, there had been some defiant attitudes from the people of Ukraine as to whether the Russians would actually go through with an invasion.

Ukrainians defied pressure from Moscow just last week with a national show of flag-waving unity on Wednesday, even as the West warned it has seen no sign of a promised pullback of Russian troops from the country’s borders.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, who declared the ‘unity day’ to coincide with the rumoured date of Putin’s invasion, addressed the nation after the attack failed to materialise – telling his countrymen that ‘we can defend our home only if we stay united.’

‘We are united by a desire to happily live in peace,’ he added, before flying via helicopter to a training range in Ukraine’s west where live-fire tank and aircraft drills were underway.

Across the country, people of all ages waved flags in the streets and from apartment windows as a two-fingered salute in the face of Putin’s threat to attack with some 150,000 troops massed on the borders.

Hundreds unfolded a 650ft flag at Kyiv’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium, while another was draped in a shopping centre in the capital. In the government-controlled part of Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk, where a war with Russian-backed separatists has simmered since 2014, residents stretched another huge flag across a street.

Hundreds of Ukrainians unfurled a 650ft flag at Kiev's Olympic Stadium as part of 'unity day' celebrations a week ago

Hundreds of Ukrainians unfurled a 650ft flag at Kiev's Olympic Stadium as part of 'unity day' celebrations a week ago

Hundreds of Ukrainians unfurled a 650ft flag at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium as part of ‘unity day’ celebrations a week ago

Volodymyr Zelensky called for the celebrations to coincide with the rumoured date of a Russian attack, saying that Ukrainians are united by a desire to live in peace

Volodymyr Zelensky called for the celebrations to coincide with the rumoured date of a Russian attack, saying that Ukrainians are united by a desire to live in peace

Volodymyr Zelensky called for the celebrations to coincide with the rumoured date of a Russian attack, saying that Ukrainians are united by a desire to live in peace

Ukrainians wave flags in Maidan Square, where the revolution that ousted the country's last pro-Russian government was overthrown, setting it on a path to closer ties with the West

Ukrainians wave flags in Maidan Square, where the revolution that ousted the country's last pro-Russian government was overthrown, setting it on a path to closer ties with the West

Ukrainians wave flags in Maidan Square, where the revolution that ousted the country’s last pro-Russian government was overthrown, setting it on a path to closer ties with the West

The Ukrainian Premier League, the nation’s top flight soccer competition, was originally due to restart after a two-month winter break, on Friday. 

The top flight takes a winter break each season and the clubs have not played since December 12. Mostly, they have been keeping warm and training in Turkey, which is on the other side of the Black Sea.

They are due back in action on Friday, February 25, when the second bottom club, Mynai, host fourth placed Zorya Luhansk. 

Ukraine’s border guard agency said Thursday morning that the Russian military has attacked the country from neighboring Belarus.

The agency said that the Russian troops unleashed artillery barrage as part of an attack backed by Belarus. They said the Ukrainian border guards were firing back, adding that there was no immediate report of casualties.

Russian troops have deployed to its ally Belarus for military drills, a move that the West saw as a prelude to an invasion of Ukraine. 

The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv is about 50 miles south of the border with Belarus.

Ukraine’s president has declared martial law and urged citizens not to panic as Russia launched military strikes on the country, while the country’s foreign minister called it a ‘full-scale invasion’.

The Russian president announced the action during a televised address early on Thursday morning, saying the move was a response to threats from Ukraine.

Explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as well as Odesa and Kharkiv following Vladimir Putin’s announcement that the military operation had begun.

The sound of distant blasts were picked up in a live broadcast from US outlet CNN, causing reporter Matthew Chance to put on a flak jacket.

The Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, said that Russia has launched a ‘full-scale invasion of Ukraine’.

Mr Kuleba said that Ukraine would defend itself against the Russian aggression ‘and will win’.

Ukraine has declared martial law

Ukraine has declared martial law

Ukraine has declared martial law 

He said: ‘Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes.

‘This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win.The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.’

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s ambassador at the United Nations has told the Security Council that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ‘declared war on Ukraine’.

He also pressed his Russian counterpart to state that Russia will not shell and bomb Ukrainian cities.

Ukrainian ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said that if Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia was not in a position to give a positive answer, he should relinquish the presidency of the Security Council, which Russia holds this month.

The Ukrainian then asked for another emergency meeting of the Security Council, calling on the UN body ‘to stop the war because it’s too late to talk about de-escalation’.

Kyslytsya then asked if he should play the video of Mr Putin announcing military operations being launched in Ukraine.

Nebenzia replied: ‘This isn’t called a war. This is called a special military operation in Donbas.’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Russia’s attack on Ukraine was ‘the saddest moment’ of his five-year tenure.

Mr Guterres urged the Russian president to withdraw his troops and added: ‘In the name of humanity do not allow to start in Europe what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century, with consequences not only devastating for Ukraine, not only tragic for the Russian Federation, but with an impact we cannot even foresee in relation to the consequences for the global economy.’

‘What is clear for me is that this war doesn’t make any sense,’ Mr Guterres added, stressing that it violates the UN Charter and would cause a level of suffering that Europe has not known since at least the 1990s Balkans crisis.

Asian stock markets plunged and oil prices surged after Mr Putin announced Russian military action in Ukraine.

Market benchmarks in Tokyo and Seoul fell 2% and Hong Kong and Sydney lost more than 3% on Thursday. Oil prices jumped nearly 3 dollars (£2.22) per barrel on unease about possible disruption of Russian supplies.

Earlier, Wall Street’s benchmark S and P 500 index fell 1.8% to an eight-month low after the Kremlin said rebels in eastern Ukraine asked for military assistance.

Source: Daily Mail

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