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War in Ukraine | Explosions in Kiev and in several cities of the country

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(Kiev) Powerful explosions were heard on Thursday morning in Kiev, Odessa (south), Kharkiv on the Russian border and in eastern Ukraine after Vladimir Putin announced a military operation against the country, according to reports. AFP journalists.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba has announced the start of a “large-scale invasion of Russia”.

“Peaceful Ukrainian towns are being attacked. It is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend and win. The world can and must stop Putin. It is time to act now,” Mr. Kouleba tweeted.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure announced in the process the closure of the airspace citing “a high risk for security” in a press release on its site.

Ukrainian border guards report attacks by Russia along the Russian and Belarusian borders.

“The Ukrainian state border was attacked by Russian troops from Russia and Belarus,” the statement said, noting that the attacks were notably carried out with the help of “artillery”.

Anti-bombing warning sirens sounded Thursday morning around 7 a.m. in the center of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, AFP journalists noted.


PHOTO EFREM LUKATSKY, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Citizens line up at a gas station in Kiev.

The Russian army said on Thursday that it had destroyed the anti-aircraft defense systems and “decommissioned” the air bases of Ukraine, where Moscow launched a military operation in the morning.

“The military infrastructure of the airbases of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been decommissioned,” the Russian Defense Ministry said, quoted by Russian news agencies. “The air defense installations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been destroyed,” he added.

In the Kiev metro, dozens of residents were trying to take shelter or take a train, suitcase in hand to leave the city, noted an AFP photographer.


PHOTO DANIEL LEAL, FRANCE-PRESSE AGENCY

Residents of Kiev take shelter in the capital’s metro.

In the capital, at least two explosions were heard in the city center early in the morning, followed by the sound of ambulance sirens.

600 km away, in southern Ukraine, in the port city of Odessa, on the Black Sea, explosions also sounded.

Kharkiv, the second largest city in the country located near the Russian border was also hit.

In the port city of Mariupol, the largest Ukrainian city near the front area with nearly half a million inhabitants, several people told AFP that they heard artillery shelling from the neighborhood located in the east of town.


PHOTO VADIM GHIRDA, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Ukrainian army soldier gathers his belongings in the Luhansk region in the east of the country.

Closer to the front of the eastern conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces for eight years, in Kramatorsk, a city which also serves as the headquarters of the Ukrainian army, at least four powerful explosions were also heard by journalists from the AFP.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in a surprise televised address on Thursday a military operation in Ukraine to defend the separatists in the east of the country, while he has tens of thousands of men deployed for weeks on the Ukrainian borders .

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