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Putin declares war as explosions rock Ukraine capital of Kyiv

INTERNATIONAL: Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Wednesday night, ending weeks of diplomatic stalemate and plunging Eastern Europe into an aerial bombardment not seen since the darkest days of World War II.

The Russian leader claimed Russia was undertaking a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” the country under the guise Russia was defending itself.

Putin announced the operation in a live televised speech that aired before 6 a.m. local time, threatening countries that attempt to interfere with “consequences they have never seen.

Immediately following the speech, explosions were reported in the capital city Kyiv, Kramatorsk, Kharkiv, Odessa, and Mariupol. It wasn’t immediately clear what the targets were.

Ukrainian border guards said that three people were dead from the real attack by Russia, according to Agance France Presse.

The total number of casualties from the bombings was unclear early Thursday. The death toll came as the country braced for more attacks from the Russian military.

The country also imposed martial law as Russian forces launched offenses across the country. A nationwide state of emergency had been in effect, giving officials extra powers to impose restrictions. Under martial law, military leaders are the absolute authorities of Ukraine’s civilians.

Highways could be seen jam-packed with vehicles early Thursday as Ukrainian citizens desperately tried to flee to safety.

Although official figures of casualties were not immediately released, some images showed Ukrainian citizens bandaged and bloodied from the bombings.

International intelligence has long expected the Russian leader to use “false flag” operations to justify its aggression against Ukraine.

Biden was briefed on the Russian attack on Ukraine in a secure call late Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

On the call with Biden were Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, and National Security Advisory Jake Sullivan. Biden was also reportedly speaking with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky at just before midnight.

The president planned to meet with G7 counterparts on Thursday morning to announce further sanctions from the US and allies for “this needless act of aggression.”

The invasion follows frantic diplomatic efforts by the US and its Western allies to find a middle ground with Moscow after rejecting the Kremlin’s insistence that Ukraine be kept out of NATO, as well as that the alliance draw back its forces from Eastern Europe and not deploy missile systems inside Ukraine.

US officials estimated that Russia had massed between 150,000 and 190,000 troops along Ukraine’s border in recent months, which one diplomat described last week as “the most significant military mobilization in Europe since the Second World War.”

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