Ukraine imposes martial law,
closes airspace following
military operation by
Russian President Putin

0
14

LONDON: Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights on Thursday after Russia launched a “military operation” after weeks of intense diplomacy and the imposition of Western sanctions failed to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, Europe’s aviation regulator warned about hazards to flying in bordering regions. Moldova, southwest of Ukraine, also closed its airspace, while Belarus to the north said civilian flights could no longer fly over part of its territory.

The Foreign Office (FO) in Pakistan shared emergency contact details for its citizens in Ukraine to get in touch with the country’s embassy for “timely assistance and guidance”.

“Our embassy is available 24/7 to offer assistance to Pakistanis in Ukraine,” the FO said in a tweet after Pakistan’s embassy posted on its account that it was in contact with students who were unable to leave as per an earlier advice.

The embassy said the students had been asked to go to the Ternopil city, “where arrangements for their evacuation will be made as situation allows”.

Ukraine imposes martial law

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared martial law and said Russia was attacking his country’s “military infrastructure”, but urged citizens not to panic and vowed victory.

His foreign minister said the worst-case scenario was playing out.

In a video message posted on Facebook after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a military operation against Ukraine, Zelensky said he had spoken by phone with US President Joe Biden, saying “he vowed US support and assistance”.

Putin announcement

Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine early Thursday with explosions heard soon after in the capital and other parts of the country, prompting outrage from United States President Joe Biden who warned of a “catastrophic loss of life”.

Tanks

Prior to the announcement, he had massed between 150,000 and 200,000 troops along the borders of Ukraine.

“I have made the decision of a military operation,” he said in a surprise statement on television shortly before 6am (0300 GMT).

Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to consequences they have never seen. He accused the United States and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to stop Ukraine from joining Nato and offer Moscow security guarantees. He said he wanted a “demilitarisation” of the former Soviet state but not its occupation.

Putin said all Ukrainian servicemen who lay down arms will be able to safely leave the zone of combat. “All responsibility for bloodshed will be on the conscience of the ruling regime in Ukraine,” Putin said.

Ukraine airbases

The Russian military says it has knocked out Ukraine’s air defence assets and airbases.

The Russian Defence Ministry said the Russian strikes have suppressed air defence means of the Ukrainian military, adding that the infrastructure of Ukraine’s military bases has been incapacitated. It denied the claims that a Russian warplane was shot down over Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military, meanwhile, claimed to have shot down five Russian aircraft while fending off the “Russian attack on the country”.

Troops in easter Ukraine

It later said that it destroyed four Russian tanks on a road near the eastern city of Kharkiv, killed 50 troops near a town in Luhansk region and downed a sixth Russian aircraft, also in the country’s east.

Russia, however, has denied reports that its aircraft or armoured vehicles have been destroyed.

Ukraine’s border guard service said that three of its servicemen had been killed in the southern Kherson region and that several more were wounded.

The Russian defence ministry earlier said it was targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure with precision weapons after President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation against the country.

“Military infrastructure, air defence facilities, military airfields, and aviation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are being disabled with high-precision weapons,” the defence ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.