By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, DASHA LITVINOVA, YURAS KARMANAU and JIM HEINTZ
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian troops launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, as President Vladimir Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”
Ukraine’s leadership said at least 40 people have been killed so far in what it called a “full-scale war” targeting the country from the east, north and south. In response, NATO envoys agreed to beef up air, land and air forces on the alliance’s eastern flank near Ukraine and Russia.
Ukrainian border guards released footage of what they said were Russian military vehicles moving in, and big explosions were heard in the capital Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east and Odesa in the west. As the Russian military claimed to have wiped out Ukraine’s entire air defenses in a matter of hours, Ukrainians fled some cities and European authorities declared Ukrainian air space an active conflict zone.
World leaders decried the start of a long-anticipated invasion with far-reaching consequences, as global financial markets plunged and oil prices soared. Russia’s actions could cause massive casualties, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government and upend geopolitics and Europe’s post-Cold War security balance.
Governments from the U.S. to Asia and Europe readied new sanctions after weeks of failed efforts for a diplomatic solution — but global powers have said they will not intervene militarily to defend Ukraine.