Europe’s darkest day

23 mins read
Europe's darkest day

Eight years after the annexation of Crimea, Russian tanks again broke borders in front of the world. Seeing the Western sanctions as an ‘invitation’, Putin launched the invasion of the neighbouring country’s territory. Cities were bombed, civilians were killed. When there was no more than a ‘darkest day since 1945’ reaction to Russian audacity, the Kremlin raised its hand: Putin will decide how long it lasts.

Europe's darkest day

The operation in Donbas, where the Russian-recognised donetsk and Luhansk administrations are located, began at first light. Russian troops bombed military centers and airports in several cities. It was also announced that the Black Sea Fleet had landed. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba said that “Putin has launched a full-fledged occupation.” Moscow denied Kiev’s statement that ‘we shot down the Russian plane’.

ZELENSKIY: I spoke to the leaders and we are establishing an anti-PUTIN CO-OPERATION

Launching a military offensive on Donbas, Putin said, “We will cleanse Ukraine of Nazism. We had to.” Ukraine has announced that Russian forces have entered the Kiev area. The Pentagon says the target is kiev. Ukrainian leader Zelenskiy said he had spoken to leaders including President Erdogan and said “we are forming an anti-Putin coalition.” A joint statement by the EU and NATO said “we will be held accountable by Russia.”


British Prime Minister Johnson has announced that Russia will be excluded from London’s financial system. Stressing “the toughest sanctions in history,” European Commission President Leyen said they would freeze Russian assets. However, with the occupation in place, it was emphasized that Western sanctions would not stop Moscow. China’s refrain from the expression of occupation drew a backlash. Putin will decide the duration of the operation, the Kremlin spokesman said.


As the bombs dropped, civilians in Kiev set off for safe zones. Zelenskiy’s adviser reported that at least 40 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the Russian strikes. Civilian casualties were also reported. Images of several buildings being reduced to rubble were reflected. Ukraine reported that a hospital in Donbas was also targeted, killing four people. CNN reported that at least 19 sorties were carried out in Kiev and similar missile strikes took place across the country.


The policy of appeasement and sanctions pursued by Western countries against Russia, which has been massing troops on the Ukrainian border for months, avoiding a military obligation, again did not work. After Crimea and the Donbas region, Putin launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine, this time on three sides. Russian forces attacked by land, air and sea, advancing as far as the capital Kiev. Thus, the fire of the most dangerous conflicts since the Second World War was lit. The Kremlin has announced that Putin will determine the duration of the invasion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has made no secret of his dream of reviving the former Soviet Union, yesterday launched his plan to invade Ukraine after months of military buildup. The soothing policy and sanctions cards that have been applied at the diplomatic table for months against the incoming invasion have not stopped Russia again. In the early hours of yesterday morning, with Putin’s address to the nation, Russian troops began entering Ukraine by land, air and sea. Putin claimed in an early morning statement that their goal was to “disarm, not invade” Ukraine, adding that “we will rid Ukraine of the Nazis.” Then the Russian army began to hit Ukrainian cities. Military installations in several cities, including the capital Kiev, have been the target of Russian missile strikes. The Russian side said sensitive weapons were used in military infrastructure, air defense facilities, military areas, and that civilians were not under threat. But images of the civilians who died showed otherwise. Later in the day, there were reports of mutual casualties from both sides. Ukraine announced the downing of five Russian planes and one Russian helicopter in the separatist-controlled Luhansk region, but Russia denied it. The Ukrainian military also announced that its air defense systems had shot down a Russian plane in the east of the country. Then attacks began on the country from Belarus and Crimea. Explosions were heard from airports in Ukraine, with the Russian Defense Ministry saying Ukraine’s air force and air defense areas had been neutralized by precision weapons. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says 50 Russian soldiers have been killed and six Russian planes destroyed in the east of the country. Putin, meanwhile, urged the Ukrainian military to lay down its weapons, saying that “all Ukrainian army personnel who have fulfilled this request will be able to freely leave the conflict zone and return to their families.” His ally, Belarusian leader Lukashenko, also offered to bring Russia and Ukraine to the table in Minsk, saying their own troops were not involved in Russian operations but could step in if necessary. The Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valeriy Zalujniy, announced that four ballistic missiles were fired from the Belarus region to his country. Russian troops crossing the border into Belarus also reportedly entered the site of the Chernobyl nuclear facility. The Russian Defense Ministry reported the destruction of 74 military infrastructure facilities belonging to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including 11 airspace in Ukraine. He announced that he had shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter and 4 Bayraktar TB-2 drones in Donbas. In response, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said some Russian troops had been captured in the fighting in the east of the country. Ukrainian police said a Ukrainian military warplane was shot down, killing five people. The Ukrainian military later announced that it had shot down two Russian helicopters in the town of Gostomel, near Kiev. Officials in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa say at least 18 people have been killed by the missile strike. A Ukrainian Armed Forces military plane with 14 people on it crashed south of the capital Kiev. Ten people lost their lives. As Russian troops began to enter from the north of the capital Kiev, Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov said Russia had launched the ‘operation’ to ‘cleanse Ukraine of the Nazis’. Peskov said Putin would decide how long the ‘operation’ would last, arguing that ‘occupation’ was out of the question. Peskov said they could meet with the Ukrainian government under “certain conditions” ” regarding the neutrality situation and the refusal to deploy weapons. If the Ukrainian government is ready to talk about it,” he said.


Several casualties occurred in Ukraine after Russia launched an all-out invasion of its neighbor. Russian officials have said they are not only targeting military installations, they will not attack cities, but images have shown that many civilians have been killed and wounded, and many buildings have been reduced to rubble. CNN, citing a ukrainian interior ministry source, reported yesterday that the first missile strikes in Ukraine had resulted in hundreds of casualties, but it was not known how many of those people had died. But images posted on social media showed how much civilians were affected by Russia’s actions and how widespread the attacks were. CNN reported that at least 19 salvos were held in the capital Kiev and similar missile strikes took place across the country. A video on Twitter showed an apartment block in the eastern Ukrainian town of Chuhuiv that was severely damaged after being hit in the first attacks. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s National Police Directorate said at least six people were killed and seven wounded in a bomb attack in the city of Podolsk in the southern Odessa region. Footage of the moment a cyclist was killed by Russian artillery in Uman in the Cherkasy region has also been shared on social media. A resident of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Khakiv, said windows in apartment blocks were constantly shaking from explosions. Ukrainian journalist Lyubov Velychko told the BBC he was on his way to a military base near Kiev, where he was hit by rockets in an attack that killed two people. The clashes have led to a massive exodus from the capital, where there has been a huge traffic jam. Residents took refuge in metro stations and lined up for buses and bank machines.


Comparing the Russian invasion to attacks by Nazi Germany, Ukrainian President Zelenskiy said he was looking for world leaders and they had begun forming an anti-Putin coalition. “Together we have to save Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said, announcing that they would give weapons to anyone with a passport.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskiy has urged world leaders to impose sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Zelenskiy said in a video message posted on social media that he spoke by phone with US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Council President Charles Michel and they have begun forming an anti-Putin coalition. “Together we have to save Ukraine,” zelenskiy said, urging world leaders to impose all possible sanctions against Putin, provide military assistance to his country and close Ukrainian airspace to Russia. Zelenskiy urged the public not to panic, stating that they are doing everything they can to support the army. Zelenskiy also announced that they are cutting diplomatic ties with Russia. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba also urged all partners to cut diplomatic ties with Russia. Zelenskiy said there had been violent clashes in the east, north and south of the country, arguing that Russian forces had suffered heavy losses. Zelenskiy said that those with military experience or training should come to the Interior Ministry and apply, noting that they have started distributing weapons to those who want to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty. Zelenskiy reiterated his call for the people to protect their city, noting that they are fighting to protect Ukraine’s freedom. Describing Russia’s attacks as “despicable” and likening them to those of Nazi Germany during World War II, Zelenskiy said, “Whatever is considered in Moscow (Ukraine) will not give up its freedom.” Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov called on all those who are ready and able to hold weapons to regional defence centres, adding that passports will be enough to obtain weapons.


Former German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer said the West had failed in the Russia-Ukraine crisis and was angry about it. “I am very angry at ourselves for our historical failure,” Karrenbauer posted on Twitter. After Georgia, Crimea and Donbas, we have not prepared anything that will really deter Putin,” he said. “But you have to be so strong militarily that not negotiating should not be an option for the other side,” the former German Defense Minister said, noting that they had forgotten the teachings of former prime ministers Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl that negotiations always came first.


Special reception points have been established on the Polish-Ukrainian border for Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Poland’s Deputy Interior Minister Pawel Szefernaker said that following russia’s attack on Ukraine, they began establishing reception points for refugees in the provinces of Lubelskie and Podkarpackie. Food, medical assistance and information will be provided to the refugees at 8 reception points to be opened in the first stage. “We are running away from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” a Ukrainian named Alex, who crossed the border with his wife and two children to Hrebenne, Poland, told local media. We’ve been in Lviv for a few days. Our friends told us at 5:00 a.m. that the Russian invasion had begun. We immediately packed our bags and headed for Poland. We managed to cross the border relatively quickly. We don’t know where we’re going yet, maybe Krakow or Vienna. As far away from the war as possible,” he said. European Union (EU) Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that they are preparing for a possible influx of refugees from Ukraine. Von der Leyen said there are also plans for assistance for internally displaced people, adding that new support will be provided beyond the existing 1.2 billion euros in aid for Ukraine. United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said they were “concerned about the rapidly deteriorating situation in Ukraine and the current military action.”


The US and European countries were again shown ‘heavier’ sanctions cards in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The EU has announced a freeze on Russia’s assets. However, neither the White House nor NATO has said there are plans to send troops to Ukraine. The greatest support for Russia from the world came from China.

Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine has alarmed Western capitals, with heavy sanctions announced. “Putin is aggressive, he has chosen war, and now both he and his country will suffer this outcome,” US President Joe Biden said after convening the national security council. Announcing the new sanctions agreed by the G7 countries, Biden said, “We will restrict the financing of the Russian military. Russia will be prevented from trading in dollars, yen and euros.” Underlining that Russians will be subject to restrictions in many areas, Biden said Russia’s access to high technology will be blocked, including the space program. US President Biden has announced sanctions against four major Russian banks, including the country’s second-largest bank VTB, but said US forces will not fight in Ukraine. “We are adding Russian elites and their families to the sanctions,” Biden said, adding that the swift ban would not be enforced for now. European capitals also reacted strongly to the Russian invasion and issued heavy sanctions:


US President Joe Biden said Putin had “refused diplomacy” by bringing Russian troops into Ukrainian territory and said Russia had decided to impose sanctions on its four major banks, including the VTB. “Russia will be excluded from the global financial system,” Biden said. Biden said they would limit Russia’s capacity to trade in dollars, euros and yen. More Russian elites and their families will also be added to the sanctions list, the US leader said. The US leader said he had no plans to remove Russia from SWIFT, but that he had no plans to do so. He expressed opposition from some European allies. Putin could also be targeted by sanctions, Biden said, leaving reporters unanswered the question, “So why isn’t it implemented today?” The United States and Russia also noted that relations are currently in the direction of rupture.


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that they will accept a major package of economic sanctions to disrupt the Russian economy following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. “To this end, we must collectively stop the dependence on Russian oil and gas, which has dominated Western politics for too long. Our mission is clear. This horrific and barbaric attempt by Vladimir Putin must fail diplomatically, politically, economically and ultimately militarily,” he said.


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine could not be justified in any way. Germany condemns this “rude action” by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the strongest possible way, Scholz said, stressing that they stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Scholz called on Russia to immediately halt its military action, saying, “We will be coordinating closely within the scope of the G7, the European Union and NATO. It’s a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe,” he said.


French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will ask Russia to answer to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for its military intervention in Ukraine. Macron stated that the sanctions against Russia would be proportionate to military and economic attacks, and underlined that they would support Ukraine without hesitation and assume all responsibilities to protect the sovereignty and security of their European allies.


European Union (EU) Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is preparing for sanctions that would weaken the Russian economy, which is engaged in military intervention in Ukraine, including freezing Russian assets and blocking Russian banks from accessing financial markets in Europe.


NATO announced that they have agreed to additional steps to strengthen deterrence and defence, in consultation with allies in accordance with Article 4 of the Washington Treaty due to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. “NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the security and defence of all allies. We are deploying additional defensive ground and air forces, as well as additional naval assets, to the eastern part of the Alliance. We have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all possible situations.” Secretary General Soltenberg said, “Our plan to send troops to Ukraine.

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