Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a televised address last night in which he said a “specialized military operation” would start in Ukraine, and he asked Ukraine’s forces to lay down their weapons and go home. Since then, news outlets have reported explosions in multiple Ukrainian cities and warning sirens blasting in the capital. In response, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister called Russia’s actions a “full-scale invasion.”
1. As the politics are debated on the world stage, life inside Ukraine is growing tense. Traffic leaving Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, is heavy as residents try to flee following pre-offensive missile strikes.
2. Due to the conflict, Ukrainian officials are calling the region’s airspace “high risk” for travel, and closed down all of the country’s commercial flights.
3. Meanwhile, smoke was seen rising in and near multiple cities before dawn, and large-scale explosions could be heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa.
4. Subway stations throughout the country have been turned into impromptu bomb shelters. Families seeking shelter have begun to pile into stations, bringing along young children and pets. Ukrainian officials have announced that despite curfews being implemented, metro stations will remain open for shelter.
5. Long lines of cars have been spotted outside of gas stations as citizens prepare to fuel up prior to evacuation, amidst fears that fuel will soon be rationed.
6. Ukrainians crowd subway stations as they attempt to evacuate Kyiv. Mayor Vitali Klitschko declared a state of emergency in the city, which currently includes a curfew and a strict entrance and exit plan, but could potentially expand to restrict vehicle movement and public gatherings.
7. Throughout the country, people are lining up to withdraw money from ATMs. CNN reported that banks are running out of cash, and people are struggling to use apps for transactions as many bank branches have closed down.
8. As air raid sirens rang, one woman was seen clutching a cross as she prayed on Independence Square in Kyiv.
9. In neighboring Hungary, residents living near the Ukrainian border are setting evacuation plans in motion. The United Nations has sprung into action, setting up refugee operations in both Ukraine and neighboring countries. The agency also asked countries to open their borders for refugees.
10. The growing conflict has sparked protests around the world. Outside of the Russian consulate in Istanbul, demonstrators held pro-Ukrainian signs that read #StopPutin and labeled the Russian President a “bloody killer.” According to the Washington Post, US officials worry that the invasion could leave thousands dead.
11. Similar protests were seen in London where residents took over Downing Street to stand against Russia’s invasion…
12. …and crowds gathered outside of the Dutch parliament in The Hague, Netherlands, as well.
13. Emotions ran high during a protest in Berlin, where protestors cloaked in Ukrainian flags gathered.
14. In Paris, residents showed their support by painting their faces in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Russian officials say they plan to press criminal charges against any Russian citizens who participate in anti-war protests.
15. In the Donetsk region of Ukraine, which militants have re-named the Donetsk People’s Republic, children walk past apartment buildings that locals say were damaged by the attacks and recent shelling.