Today at 4:50 a.m. Ukrainian time, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine. At exactly the same time, the United Nations Security Council was meeting in a televised urgent session, chaired by Russia, to attempt to prevent military action by Putin (full video). Russia invaded Ukraine as they spoke.
Almost immediately, missiles began hitting targets in Ukraine. Blasts were heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kramatorsk, according to The New York Times. Forty Ukrainian soldiers were killed, and a dozen wounded, according to Oleksiy Arestovich.
Putin’s attacks on Ukraine were described as “the darkest hours of Europe since the Second World War,” by the European Union’s foreign policy chief. The UK’s prime minister called it the “biggest war in Europe since 1945.” The UN-Secretary General called it the “saddest moment” of his tenure.
“By midmorning in Kyiv, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had disabled all of Ukraine’s air defenses and air bases. Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said that Russian forces had captured two villages in the Luhansk region,“ the New York Times reported.
At 10 a.m. EST, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted: “Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl [Nuclear Power Plant]. Our defenders are sacrificing their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated. This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”
CNN reported that Biden vowed that the world will “hold Russia accountable” for the attack underway in Ukraine, and will spell out a set of sanctions “once meant to deter such an assault.” U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the nation today at around 1:40 p.m. EST. He announced additional economic sanctions. (Full video here).
Putin’s actions are a “blatant violation of international law,” said Ambassador Josette Sheeran, the Executive Chairman of the McCain Institute in a statement issued today. The invasion is “unjustified, illegal, and reprehensible,” added Dr. Mark T. Esper, Former U.S. Defense Secretary and John S. McCain Distinguished Fellow.
“It is a grave threat to global norms and an unspeakable tragedy for the Ukrainian people. The human cost will be incalculable . . . Europe must prepare to provide protection to what could be millions of Ukrainian citizens displaced by persecution and violence,” said Elisa Massimino, Director of the Human Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center.
“I believe in Ukraine as ferociously as John McCain did and hope that the American response to this crisis is one that he would have been proud of,” concluded Frances Townsend, Former Homeland Security Advisor.
“It’s always darkest before it turns pitch black,” as Senator McCain liked to quip.