Reports of civilian casualties as Russia invades Ukraine

Source: 1News / Associated Press

Recap 1News' live updates on the latest in Ukraine, as Russia invades.

What you need to know:

- Russian President Vladimir Putin announces a military operation in Ukraine shortly before 6am Moscow time.

- In a televised address, Putin claims the operation is intended to protect civilians. He says the action comes in response to threats coming from Ukraine. He adds that Russia doesn’t have a goal to occupy Ukraine.

- Explosions were heard in Kyiv shortly after the conclusion of Putin's speech. There are also reports online of explosions being heard in Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Dnipro, Mariupol, Odessa, and Ivano Frankivsk.

- New Zealand has condemned the military operation.

11.15pm: We're signing off for the evening, thank you for joining us.

Tomorrow, join Breakfast from 6am on TVNZ1 for insights about what the crisis could mean for New Zealand and the world.

11.00pm:

9.47pm: The European Union is holding an emergency summit. It says it is planning the “strongest, the harshest package” of sanctions it has ever considered.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says that “the target is the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order, and we will hold President Putin accountable for that".

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Western allies will not stand by as Russia attacks Ukraine.

In a call, Johnson told Zelenskyy that he's appalled by the events in Ukraine.

The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are condemning the Russian operation in Ukraine as a “crime against Ukrainian people".

9.41pm: From investigative journalism organisation Bellingcat:

9.38pm: Putin has made an address from Moscow.

The Russian President casts aside international condemnation and sanctions. He warns other countries that any attempt to interfere will lead to "consequences you have never seen".

9.28pm: Meanwhile, in Kyiv, the clean-up begins after shelling from Russia.

9.20pm: Photos are also beginning to emerge of the aftermath of an airstrike that hit an apartment complex in Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Oblast.

That's despite earlier claims from Russia that it's only targeting military infrastructure.

Ukrainian firefighters arrive to rescue civilians after an airstrike hit an apartment complex in Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Ukrainian security forces accompany a wounded man after an airstrike hit an apartment complex in Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

9.15pm: It's just after 10am in Ukraine. Some photos from Kramatorsk city in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region:

Ukrainian citizens take a bus in Kramatorsk city in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region on February 24, 2022.
A road in Kramatorsk city in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region on February 24, 2022.

9.02pm: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemns Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and says his country will respond in a speedy fashion in concert with the US and other allies.

“This Russian invasion stands to put at risk the basic principle of international order that forbids one-sided action of force in an attempt to change the status quo."

Spain, France, and Italy are also among others condemning the attack.

8.53pm: The Ukrainian Association of New Zealand is planning a gathering in Auckland's Aotea Square this Saturday, under Red traffic light Covid-19 restrictions.

"We can't protect our native land with weapons in our hands, but we can show that we are Ukrainians," the association says.

It encourages participants to bring Ukrainian flags and anti-war posters.

8.46pm: From BBC journalist Frank Gardner:

8.30pm: BBC is reporting seven people are known to have died in bombing by Russian forces.

"Officials say an attack on a military unit in Podilsk, outside Odessa killed six people and wounded seven," BBC says.

"Nineteen people are also missing."

8.15pm: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has convened a meeting of NATO ambassadors to assess the invasion of Ukraine, the Associated Press reports.

The meeting will “address the situation in Ukraine and the consequences of Russia’s unprovoked attack".

Earlier, Stoltenberg condemned Russia’s invasion.

“Despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression."

Stoltenberg warns Moscow that the alliance will “do all it takes to protect and defend” NATO members.

He calls the invasion a “grave breach of international law and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security".

"I call on Russia to cease its military action immediately.”

8.06pm: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues his talks with world leaders.

Among those he's spoken to are UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Polish President Andrzej Duda, European Council President Charles Michel, and Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

"The world is with us," Zelenskyy says.

7.56pm: Earlier today, traffic could be seen building on the streets as the residents of Kyiv flee their city.

Kyiv residents leave the city following pre-offensive missile strikes of the Russian armed forces on February 24.

7.49pm: The Associated Press reports that China is advising its people in Ukraine to stay home because of ongoing military actions, but made no mention of Russian forces.

The notice issued on its Kyiv embassy’s social media account says: “Social order is chaotic and out of control, especially in the cities where at times of serious unrest."

It says a person walking on the streets could be a target of attack and traffic could be stopped at any time.

China has denounced sanctions against Russia, with which it has increasingly aligned its foreign policy to challenge the West, and blames the US and its allies for provoking Moscow.

7.45pm: "Russia has chosen war," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.

"The Russian government declared that they had commenced a so-called 'special military operation' in Ukraine, and they said this after months of aggression," Morrison says in a speech.

"I'll call it for what it is — the Russian government launched a brutal invasion ... and should be condemned for doing so. Australia does.

"Together with the international community, we are banding together in strong terms to condemn these outrageous acts in the strongest possible terms."

He says Australia is calling for Russia to withdraw, adding it was "flagrantly breaching international law and the UN charter".

Morrison urges Australians in Ukraine to leave when it's safe to do so.

7.37pm: The Russian Defense Ministry says its strikes have “suppressed air defence means of the Ukrainian military".

It adds that the infrastructure of Ukraine’s military bases has been incapacitated.

It denies claims that a Russian warplane was shot down over Ukraine — the latter is claiming it has shot down five.

7.30pm: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has sharply condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, calling it "a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe".

The chancellor says that “the Russian attack on Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law. It cannot be justified by anything".

Scholz says in a statement: “Our solidarity is with Ukraine and its people. Russia must stop this military action immediately."

 Russian military tanks advance in the Russian separatist-controlled part of the Donbas region on February 23, 2022.

7.22pm: It's just after 8am in Kyiv. Guardian journalist Luke Harding says there are few people on the streets, but there's a sense of "quiet defiance".

He says his basement is filling up with families with small children.

7.15pm: AFP reports that, according to Ukraine, it has downed five Russian planes. Meanwhile, Russia is saying it has destroyed Ukrainian airbases.

7.13pm: Washington Post reporter Paul Sonne:

7.06pm: Air raid sirens are going off in Kyiv.

Here's the latest view of Kyiv, from Associated Press photographer Emilio Morenatti:

7.04pm: Ukraine’s border guard agency says the Russian military has attacked the country from neighbouring Belarus.

The agency says Russian troops unleashed artillery barrage as part of an attack backed by Belarus.

They say the Ukrainian border guards are firing back, adding that there is no immediate report of casualties.

Russian troops have deployed to its ally Belarus for military drills, a move that the West saw as a prelude to an invasion of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv is about 75 kilometres south of the border with Belarus.

6.52pm: The Ukrainian Armed Forces have issued a statement.

They say Russian armed forces have started "intensive shelling" of Ukrainian units in the east, and "rocket bomb strikes" across multiple airports.

Ukrainian Armed Forces say they are fighting off a Russian air attack.

It says reports of Russian forces paratrooping into Odessa isn't true.

6.41pm: Reuters journalist Phil Stewart says Ukraine's border authority is reporting attacks are also taking place from Crimea.

6.37pm: ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden says Russia's actions "violate international law".

"Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine as they suffer unprovoked attacks by Russian military forces. Russia’s actions will lead to unnecessary hurt, destruction, and loss of life," she tweets.

"These actions violate international law, which we as a small nation champion and depend on.

"This is a sad day for Ukraine and all democratic countries that rely on rules-based international order."

6.32pm: Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says the world "must act immediately" against Russia and send Ukraine help.

"[The] future of Europe and the world is at stake."

He is calling for swift and "devastating sanctions" on Russia, the isolation of Russia "by all means, in all formats", weapons for Ukraine, and financial and humanitarian assistance.

6.29pm: Ukraine’s president is rejecting Moscow’s claim that his country poses a threat to Russia and warns that a looming Russian invasion could cause tens of thousands of deaths.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says: “The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace. But if we come under attack that threaten our freedom and lives of our people, we will fight back.”

Zelenskyy says he tried to call Putin, but the Kremlin remained silent.

6.24pm: CNN reports "at least five explosions" have hit the international airport in Kyiv, according to the Ukrainian President's Office.

6.19pm: The S&P/NZX50 is down 3.31 per cent following the news out of Ukraine. It's the worst day for the NZX since March 23, 2020, when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country was moving to Alert Level 3 from the day after, then Alert Level 4 in 48 hours.

6.15pm: Russia's defence ministry denies attacking Ukrainian cities, according to the country's state agency RIA.

The Russian defence ministry says it's targeting military infrastructure, air defence, and air forces with "high-precision weapons".

6.08pm: Asian stock markets have plunged and oil prices have surged amid Russia's actions this afternoon.

Market benchmarks in Tokyo and Seoul fell 2 per cent and Hong Kong and Sydney lost more than 3 per cent on Thursday.

Oil prices jumped nearly $3 ($NZ4.50) per barrel on unease about possible disruption of Russian supplies.

Earlier, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1.8 per cent to an eight-month low after the Kremlin said rebels in eastern Ukraine asked for military assistance.

6.06pm: CNN reports the Mayor of Kharkiv has told residents to stay home. Schools have been closed.

5.59pm: Matti Maasikas, ambassador of the European Union to Ukraine, tweets a photo of explosions he says is near Kharkiv in north east Ukraine:

5.52pm: Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has released a statement. In full below:

"Aotearoa New Zealand condemns the advance of Russian military personnel and equipment into Ukraine," Mahuta says.

“New Zealand condemns the advance of military personnel and equipment into Ukraine, which represents a clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We stand with the people of Ukraine impacted by this conflict. Our thoughts are with them.

“Russia’s actions are a flagrant breach of fundamental international rules; the use of force to change borders is strictly prohibited under international law.

“We join the international community in calling on Russia to cease military operations in Ukraine, and immediately and permanently withdraw, to ensure all possible steps are taken to protect civilians in line with international humanitarian law, and return to diplomatic negotiations to de-escalate this conflict.

“We remain in close contact with partners on the evolving situation, including on appropriate measures being considered by the international community. I will make a further announcement in due course."

5.50pm: Green MP Golriz Ghahraman says New Zealand must "actively mediate for peace rather than passively condemn".

5.42pm: A video from Anadolu Agency shows Russian military tanks advancing in the Russian separatist-controlled part of the Donbas region.

5.40pm: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has amended his earlier plea.

"President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia," he tweets.

"This conflict must stop now."

5.36pm: Liz Truss, the UK foreign secretary, is condemning the attack, which she labels "appalling" and "unprovoked".

"We stand with Ukraine and we will work with our international partners to respond to this terrible act of agression (sic)."

On Wednesday, the 27 European Union members nations unanimously agreed on an initial set of sanctions targeting Russian officials over their actions in Ukraine.

5.30pm: Ukraine’s ambassador at the United Nations has told the Security Council that Putin has “declared war on Ukraine”.

Sergiy Kyslytsya also pressed his Russian counterpart to say that Russia will not shell and bomb Ukrainian cities.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia says: “This isn’t called a war. This is called a special military operation in Donbas.”

5.23pm: Gerry Brownlee, National's foreign affairs spokesperson, says the New Zealand Government must act urgently on Ukraine and stand with its "traditional partners in defence of our values".

“We totally condemn President Putin’s decision conduct military operations in Ukraine. There is no possible justification for the catastrophic damage to human life this will bring," he says in a statement.

“This a threat to global peace and stability many have never seen their lifetime, and the time for twiddling thumbs and putting out statements is over.

“It is not too late for the New Zealand Government to pass legislation allowing our country to join in coordination with sanctions being used by our traditional partners to send a clear message to Russia and deter this violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“If they don’t, this Government must explain why."

5.14pm: Former US President Donald Trump tells Fox News Russia's actions "wouldn't have taken place" during his administration.

Trump says he didn't think Putin had planned this from the start, but that he detected a "weakness".

"I think he wanted to do something and negotiate, and it got worse and worse," he says.

5.12pm: There are reports of gunfire near Kyiv’s main airport, according to CBC News.

There are also reports of further explosions outside of Kyiv in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

5.08pm: Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba says Russia has "launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine".

"Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes. This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win," he says.

5.05pm: This from US Senator Marco Rubio:

5.02pm: A CNN reporter’s live broadcast from Kyiv, in Ukraine was interrupted by sounds of explosions in the background.

Matthew Chance says there is a “big bang” right behind him.

“There are big explosions taking place in Kyiv right now.

“I can’t explain what they are, but I heard four or five explosions a few moments ago.”

The journalist proceeds to put protective bomb-proof gear on while continuing to report live on air.

5.00pm: Ukraine’s parliament and other government and banking websites were hit with another punishing wave of distributed-denial-of-service attacks, the Associated Press reports.

Cybersecurity researchers say unidentified attackers had also infected hundreds of computers with destructive malware.

Some of the infected computers were in neighbouring Latvia and Lithuania, the researchers say.

4.55pm: Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Putin not to send Russian troops against Ukraine and “give peace a chance".

Guterres opened an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council earlier today, saying the day was full of rumours and indications that an offensive against Ukraine is imminent.

In the recent past, Guterres says, he never believed rumours that Russia would invade Ukraine and was “convinced that nothing serious would happen".

But, he adds: ”I was wrong, and I like not to be wrong again. So if indeed an operation is being prepared I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart: Stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died.”

4.44pm: US President Joe Biden says Russia's actions amount to an "unprovoked and unjustified attack".

"President Putin has chosen premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering," Biden says in a statement.

"Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable."

He says he will be meeting with his G7 counterparts.

4.40pm: Bellingcat author Aric Toler:

4.35pm: CNN journalist Frederik Pleitgen says he’s heard jets over Belgorod, which is about 40 kilometres north of the border with Ukraine.

4.30pm: In the past hour, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a "military operation in eastern Ukraine".

Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to "consequences they have never seen".