The NATO North Atlantic Council condemned what it described as a “horrifying attack on Ukraine, which is entirely unjustified.” International organizations and coalitions scrambled to respond to the invasion, with NATO, the United Nations, and G7 leaders all holding emergency meetings.
In Kiev and in cities across Ukraine, air raid sirens blared and people sought safety in bomb shelters. Footage showed military helicopters showering fiery missiles down on an airport near the capital.
In Kramatorsk, a city of 150,000 residents in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, the sky lit orange with multiple explosions just before 5 a.m. The Ukrainian military said that Russian missiles had struck the airport, which is 2,000 feet southeast of the city center.
About a hundred miles north in Kharkiv, a city of 1 million people near the Russian border, three residents told TheNewstip in a series of text messages that they were awakened before dawn by a series of blasts.
“We will probably leave the city,” one woman said, asking that her name not be used for security reasons. “Don’t understand how this can happen in the 21st Century.”
In Hostomel, a short drive away from the capital of Kyiv, videos showed Russian Mi-8 helicopters assaulting a military airfield. The Interior Ministry said that Russia had seized control.
Dzheppar, Ukraine’s first deputy foreign minister, personally witnessed a missile strike Thursday that hit a building which houses a department of the country’s military intelligence, she told TheNewstip by phone. Casualties are still being counted, she said.
She said she expected the situation on the ground to get worse. “This is just the beginning,” she said.
Dzheppar said she feared the Russian military would target government buildings including the presidential office and parliament with missile strikes. “”They are not only invading my country but trying to eliminate the government and our capacity for governance,” she said.
Images showed highways clogged as people tried to flee west, with the country’s European neighbors preparing for an influx of refugees.
“The humanitarian consequences on civilian populations will be devastating,” warned UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “There are no winners in war, but countless lives will be torn apart.”
Many Ukrainians moved quickly to gather essential supplies for whatever comes next. Cars queued up outside gas stations; people waited in lines outside banks and pharmacies.