NATO leader calls Russian attack 'brutal act of war': live updates

International condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin's pre-dawn attack against Ukraine mounted Thursday, as U.S. and Western allies prepared to impose punishing sanctions against Moscow for a stunning full-scale invasion that global leaders had been warning about for weeks.

"This is a brutal act of war," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.

Here's what to know about Russia's attack on Ukraine:

  • WHEN DID THE INVASION START? At roughly 10 p.m. ET (5 a.m. in Ukraine), Russian forces began a military operation in eastern Ukraine.

  • HOW DID BIDEN RESPOND: Biden said G7 leaders would convene Thursday morning. He is expected to announce the harshest sanctions possible against Russia at noon ET.

  • HAS PUTIN SAID ANYTHING? Russian president has not made any comments since his declaration of war was televised in Russia.

  • ARE THERE CASUALTIES? Ukraine last reported about 40 people dead from Russian attacks.

Explosions were heard in major cities, including the capital of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odessa. Oleksii Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said at least 40 people had been killed and dozens others wounded in the attack so far. Ukrainian authorities said Russian forces had hit military assets and other defense facilities, while footage shared by Ukrainian border guards showed Russian military vehicles moving across the border from Crimea.

Zelenskyy announced Ukraine had cut diplomatic ties with Russia, declaring martial law and offering to issue weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country.

Global markets plunged and oil prices skyrocketed on news of the invasion, a dramatic escalation after weeks of diplomacy talks failed to defuse the months-long standoff between Moscow and NATO countries over Ukraine's sovereignty.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is due to address his nation, called it a "catastrophe for our continent." British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said she has summoned the Russian ambassador "to meet me and explain Russia’s illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine."

French President Emmanuel Macron called on Moscow to end its military operations immediately.

More: Where is Ukraine? Where are NATO members? A guide to post-Soviet eastern Europe

President Joe Biden condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack” shortly after it began and vowed that the world would hold Russia and Putin accountable for the aggression, which threatened to create global upheaval and escalate into the largest military conflict on European soil since the end of World War II.

“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said in a statement after Putin announced military action against Ukraine.

Biden will address the nation at noon Eastern time to announce additional steps the U.S. will take beyond sanctions already imposed.

UK's Johnson vows 'massive' sanctions in national address

Johnson delivered a somber national address Thursday, telling the country weeks of warnings about a Russian invasion have proven tragically accurate and that Putin has brought a "tidal wave of violence" to Ukraine.

"A vast invasion is under way by land, by air and by sea," he said.

The British prime minister said the U.K. has coordinated with allies on a "massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy."

Johnson said the U.K. would do more in the days ahead and called on Europe to end its reliance on Russian oil and gas that has allowed Putin a grip on the continent.

He also said western allies "cannot allow that freedom to be snuffed out."

"We cannot and will not look away," he added.

Courtney Subramanian

NATO leaders will convene Friday

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced an emergency virtual summit for the military alliance's leaders on Friday, calling Moscow's invasion a "brutal act of war" that has shattered peace on the continent.

"This is a deliberate, cold-blooded and long-planned invasion. Russia is using force to try to rewrite history," he told reporters Thursday.

The top European official said Russia launched a sweeping attack from multiple directions that included air and missile attacks, ground forces and special forces that targeted Ukraine's military infrastructure and major cities.

Stoltenberg said European was faced with a "new normal for our security" and would meet to discuss how to defend and protect allies amid the new reality. He added that Finland and Sweden, which are not NATO members, would also attend Friday's meeting.

"We don't have all the answers today but there will be a new reality," he said. "It will be a new Europe after the invasion we saw today."

His remarks came after Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland triggered Article 4 of NATO's founding treaty, which allows members to "bring any issue of concern, especially related to security of a member country, to the table for discussion with the North Atlantic Council."

The alliance has invoked Article 4 several times since its creation in 1949.

NATO issued a new statement Thursday saying Moscow's actions "pose a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security, and they will have geostrategic consequences."

"We are deploying additional defensive land and air forces to the eastern part of the Alliance, as well as additional maritime assets," the statement said. " We have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies."

– Courtney Subramanian

What time did Russia invade Ukraine?

In a televised address that came around 10 p.m. Eastern time, which is 5 a.m. in Ukraine and 6 a.m. in Moscow, Putin told his country that Russia would conduct a military operation in Ukraine.

The Russian president said the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine — a false claim the U.S. had predicted he would make as a pretext for an invasion. And he claimed that Russia doesn’t intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarize” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice.

Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”

More: As Russian forces advance on Ukraine, US, allies escalate diplomatic efforts

Lithuania orders state of emergency

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Thursday signed a decree declaring a state of emergency in the Baltic country in response to Russia’s military attack on Ukraine. Parliament was expected to approve the measure in an extraordinary session later on Thursday.

The measure, in effect until March 10, allows for a more flexible use of state reserve funds and increased border protection, giving border guards greater authorities to stop and search individuals and vehicles in border areas.

"Never before have we been so strong & so well prepared to face external challenges together with our Allies," Nauseda tweeted. The future of Europe "may depend on how we react in the coming hours & days."

More: 'A tragedy': World leaders react to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Zelenskyy calls on veterans to help fight Russia

Zelenskyy said Thursday that Ukraine has severed diplomatic relations with Russia, adding that “Ukraine is defending itself and shall not cede its freedom.”

“Dear citizens, this morning has gone down in history,” he said, according to a translation by CNN as he spoke. “But it is a different history for us and for Russia.”

Zelenskyy also called on veterans to help fight against Russian troops. He said Ukraine is issuing defensive weapons to those with military experience. He said they are able to join Ukraine defense by reporting to call up stations.

“We are issuing arms, defensive weapons, to all those capable of defending our sovereignty,” he said. “Each citizen of Ukraine will decide the future of our people.”

In a tweet shortly after, Zelenskyy wrote: "We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities."

In a second tweet, he added: "We have severed diplomatic relations with Russia. For all those who have not yet lost their conscience in Russia, it is time to go out and protest against the war with Ukraine."

– Rebecca Morin

Official says Ukraine attacked from 3 sides

KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian presidential adviser said Russian forces launched an attack on Ukraine from the north, east and south. The adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said “the Ukrainian military is fighting hard.”

Podolyak said Thursday that “our army is fighting back inflicting significant losses to the enemy.” He said that there have been civilian casualties, but didn’t give details.

He said that “Ukraine now needs a greater and very specific support from the world — military-technical, financial as well as tough sanctions against Russia,” he said.

Another adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia has targeted air bases and various other military infrastructure.

Oleksii Arestovich said the Russian strike hasn’t achieved its goal to rout the country’s military. He said that “we suffered casualties, but they aren’t significant,” adding that the Russian strikes “haven’t eroded the combat capability of the Ukrainian military.”

He said that the Russian troops moved up to 5 kilometers (about 3 miles) deep into the Ukrainian territory in the Kharkiv and Chernihiv regions, and, possibly in other areas.

— Associated Press

'An unmistakable message': Biden unveils US sanctions on Russia after Putin's invasion of Ukraine

NATO in emergency session as Russia attacks Ukraine

NATO envoys met in emergency session Thursday after Putin ordered a large-scale attack on Ukraine, as the 30-nation military organization prepares to bolster its defenses in allies neighboring both countries. Preparations were also underway for a NATO summit.

“This is a grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in statement. The allies are meeting, he said, “to address the consequences of Russia’s aggressive actions.”

While some member countries are supplying arms, ammunition and other equipment to Ukraine, NATO as an organization is not, and it will not launch any military action in support of Ukraine, which is a close partner but has no prospect of joining.

“We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend all allies,” Stoltenberg said.

– Associated Press

China calls for talks over Ukraine, criticizes US

China repeated calls for talks to resolve the crisis in Ukraine on Thursday while refusing to criticize Russia’s attack and accusing the U.S. and its allies of worsening the situation.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing that “the Ukraine issue is complex in its historical background … what we are seeing today is the interplay of complex factors.”

“China is closely following the latest developments,” Hua said. “We still hope that the parties concerned will not shut the door to peace and engage instead in dialogue and consultation and prevent the situation from further escalating,”

– Associated Press

More: 'A tragedy': World leaders react to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Oil prices jump as stock markets slump

World stock markets plunged and oil prices surged by nearly $6 per barrel Thursday after President Vladimir Putin launched Russian military action in Ukraine.

Market benchmarks tumbled in Europe and Asia and U.S. futures were sharply lower. Brent crude oil jumped to over $100 per barrel on unease about possible disruption of Russian supplies. The price of U.S. benchmark crude briefly surpassed $98 per barrel.

The ruble sank 7.5% to more than $87 to the U.S. dollar.

– Associated Press

More: Will gas prices keep rising after Russia invasion of Ukraine? Here's what we know

Security video: Russian military vehicles cross into Ukraine

Security camera footage shows a line of Russian military vehicles crossing into Ukraine from Russian-annexed Crimea.

Russian troops launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday. President Vladimir Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”

Ukrainians started fleeing some cities, and the Russian military claimed to have incapacitated all of Ukraine’s air defenses and air bases within hours.

– Associated Press

Baltic states condemn attack

The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are condemning the Russian operation in Ukraine as a “crime against Ukrainian people.”

In a joint statement, the three countries’ foreign ministers condemned strongly “the open large scale Russian aggression against the independent, peaceful and democratic Ukraine.” They called it “a blatant violation of the international law, of all international norms and a crime against Ukrainian people that we condemn.”

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said the Russian move is “an attack on the security order throughout Europe.”

– Associated Press

EU planning new sanctions for Russia

The European Union says it is planning the “strongest, the harshest package” of sanctions it has ever considered at an emergency summit Thursday, as the Russian military attacked Ukraine.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said in remarks Thursday that Russia should withdraw their troops, adding Putin will not be allowed to “tear down the security architecture that has given Europe peace and stability over many decades.”

“It is President Putin who is bringing war back to Europe,” she said.

She added that Putin’s goal isn’t to just invade Ukraine, but to create instability in Europe.

“We are facing an unprecedented act of aggression by the Russian leadership against a sovereign, independent country,” she said. “Russia's target is not only Donbas, the target is not only Ukraine, the target is the stability in Europe and the whole of the International Peace order."

“We will present a package of massive and targeted sanctions to European leaders for approval,” she said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called it the “strongest, the harshest package” ever considered.

— Rebecca Morin, Associated Press

Japanese PM: 'We strongly condemn Russia'

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned Russia’s military actions in the Ukraine and said his country will respond in a speedy fashion in concert with the United States and other allies.

“This Russian invasion stands to put at risk the basic principle of international order that forbids one-sided action of force in an attempt to change the status quo. We strongly condemn Russia, and we will respond speedily in cooperation with the U.S. and other Western nations,” he said at his official residence in Tokyo.

Spain, France, Australia and Italy were among others condemning the attack. Germany and Turkey also warned their citizens in Ukraine to stay in a safe place.

— Associated Press

German chancellor: 'Dark day'

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine as a blatant violation of international law.”

“There is no justification for it,” he said. “Germany condemns this reckless act by President Putin in the strongest possible terms.”

Scholz called on Russia to stop military action immediately, and said the G7, NATO and the EU will “coordinate closely today.”

“This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe,” he said.

— Rebecca Morin

'A tragedy': World reacts to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

NATO ambassadors to meet on Ukraine attack

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has convened a meeting of NATO ambassadors to assess the invasion of Ukraine, which borders several NATO members.

The meeting Thursday morning will “address the situation in Ukraine and the consequences of Russia’s unprovoked attack.”

Earlier, Stoltenberg had already condemned Russia’s invasion. “Despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression,” Stoltenberg said.

He also warned Moscow that the alliance will will “do all it takes to protect and defend” NATO members.

He called the invasion a “grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security. I call on Russia to cease its military action immediately.”

— Associated Press

Zelenskyy speaks with world leaders

Hours after Putin announced military action against Ukraine, Zelenskyy spoke to several world leaders to garner support for his nation.

In addition to Biden, Zelenskyy in a tweet said he spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Council President Charles Michel, Poland President Andrzej Duda and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“Building an anti-Putin coalition,” Zelenskyy said. “Immediate sanctions, defense & financial support to (Ukraine)! Close the airspace! The world must force (Russia) into peace.”

— Rebecca Morin

More: Chaotic scenes in Donetsk and Luhansk as Russian troops enter the regions

Australian PM: 'We must ensure there is a cost'

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said there must be a cost for Russia's “egregious behavior” against Ukraine.

“We must ensure there is a cost for this violent and unacceptable and egregious behavior,” he said. “There always must be a cost for such reprehensible violence and the way this is being done in Ukraine as we speak.”

Morrison added that Australia will stand with “like minded” countries against Russia’s attacks, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

— Rebecca Morin

'Murkiness and doubt': Putin playbook meant to throw White House, allies off balance on Ukraine invasion

In Russia, a different view

Russian state media are portraying Moscow as coming to the rescue of war-torn areas of eastern Ukraine that are tormented by Ukraine’s aggression.

TV presenters are professing the end of suffering for the residents of the breakaway regions.

“You paid with your blood for these eight years of torment and anticipation,” anchor Olga Skabeyeva said during a popular political talk show Tuesday morning. “Russia will now be defending Donbas.”

Channel One struck a more festive tone, with its correspondent in Donetsk asserting that local residents “say it is the best news over the past years of war.”

“Now they have confidence in the future and that the years-long war will finally come to an end,” she said.

Whether ordinary Russians are buying it is another question.

— Associated Press

The enigma of Vladimir Putin: What do we really know about Russia's leader?

Zelenskyy imposes martial law, condemns 'cynical invasion'

Zelenskyy called Russia’s attack an “unjustified deceitful and cynical invasion” in a statement early on Thursday.

“Only we, all citizens of Ukraine, have been determining our future since 1991,” Zelenskyy said. "But now the fate of not only our state is being decided, but also what life in Europe will be like.”

Zelenskyy said Ukrainian diplomats are informing the world about what is happening in their country. He added: “Whether at least something of the force of international law remains will depend on the world's fair and just response to this aggression.”

Martial law has also been imposed, Zelenskyy also said, urging civilians to stay home.

“Warn your loved ones about what is happening. Take care of those who need help,” he said.

— Rebecca Morin

'War is my biggest horror': Russians brace for deadly conflict, economic hardship as Putin orders invasion

US Department of State tells Americans in Ukraine to shelter in place

The U.S. Department of State early on Thursday warned Americans still in Ukraine about the current danger.

In a statement online, the department noted: "There are reports of Russian attacks on targets in a number of major Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Mariupol, and others. U.S. citizens in Ukraine are advised to shelter in place…"

The statement added that: "Further Russian military action can occur at any time without warning."

— Luciana Lopez

More: Biden levels sanctions on Russia for beginning an invasion of Ukraine


This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Russia attacks Ukraine; NATO says 'brutal act of war': live updates

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