Ukraine: Fighter aircrafts spotted in the sky
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Over 30 civilian and military sites across Ukraine have been hit by Russian missiles after President Vladimir Putin called for a full-scale invasion of the country. Many residents in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, have sought shelter from blasts as reports suggest Russian troops have already entered the region. Up to 18 people are thought to have been killed in a missile strike in Odessa, while official Ukrainian government figures say 40 soldiers have died so far.
Two people are also believed to have been killed in two Russian missile strikes targeting Brovary on the outskirts of Kyiv.
The Ukrainian military claims to have killed “50 Russian occupiers” on Thursday morning, downing six Russian planes in the process.
Many had anticipated an invasion after Russia amassed more than 100,000 troops along its Ukrainian border and sent troops into eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk territories.
But, the reality of a full-scale invasion still came as a shock to millions of Ukrainians and the world’s leaders.
Speaking on Western media outlets this morning, Ukrainian officials and politicians urged Europe to react to Russia’s aggression, saying it was not only Ukraine at stake but democracy and possibly Russia’s other former territories.
Professor Julian Lindley-French, an internationally recognised strategic analyst and adviser in defence, who has worked with NATO, argues that much of the same must be expected from Russia in the future, pointing towards its recent activities and rhetoric.
He said the events seen before the invasion are “the future” of the sort of geopolitics that will play out between Russia and the West — as well as other countries — and that NATO now needed to be “given the tools to do the job”.
Prof Lindley-French said: “We in Britain, a leading member of NATO, have to show real leadership on this by sticking to our integrated review, by rebuilding our armed forces, by creating a new force that can repress Russia with its deterrent power.
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“We must prove we can respond to their cyber attacks by making them suffer if they attack us, and exploit their vulnerabilities in a more systematic manner.
“We’ve been unbelievably naive in the last 20 years, and this is the consequence we are now facing.
“I see more of the same happening off the back of this situation.
“If it succeeds, expect more of the same; if we are coerced, expect more of the same.
“The questions our leaders need to be asking themselves is: What will it take to deter Moscow and indeed China together?
“What must the new global community of democracy do together to convince the likes of Putin and Xi Jinping that risks of this kind of aggression are simply too great to contemplate and it’s better to be a partner with the West than an adversary or indeed an enemy.
“That means thinking strategically, that means overcoming the chronic risk aversion in London and other capitals, which has led to this situation.”
The West has added sanctions to the existing restrictions placed on Russia after it recognised the eastern Ukrainian territories of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent.
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On Thursday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said sanctions from the bloc would erode and “seriously degrade” Russia’s economy.
She said the EU will freeze Russian assets in the EU and stop the access of Russian banks to the European financial market.
These measures are intended to affect Russia severely, increasing capital outflow, raising inflation and gradually peeling away its industrial basis.
Ms von der Leyen added that the EU intends to weaken Russia’s technological position in key areas like high-tech components and cutting-edge software.
NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has confirmed that allies from Europe and North America have already sent thousands more troops to the eastern part of the alliance and had placed more on standby.
He said: “We have over 100 jets at high alert protecting our airspace and more than 120 allied ships at sea from the high north to the Mediterranean.
“We will continue to do whatever is necessary to shield the alliance from aggression”.
He has called a virtual summit of NATO leaders on Friday to address the way forward.
Mr Stoltenberg added: “Russia is now facing severe costs and consequences imposed by the whole international community”, ending his speech by saying freedom would always prevail over oppression.
Ukraine’s President Volodymr Zelensky says his country’s armed forces are repelling attacks in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine as well as other parts of the country.
Russia is thought to be invading from the north through Belarus, the east, the south through Crimea and the West through Moldova.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said the Russian attack on Ukraine is a “turning point” in European history.
In a televised address, he said France will stand by Ukraine’s side.
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