Russia destroyed 11 Ukrainian military airfields, three command posts, a naval base besides 18 radar stations of the S-300 and Buk-M1 air defense missile systems on the first day of its full-scale war with its former Soviet comrade nation.
Moscow invaded Ukraine by land, sea and air on 24 February, in the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War 2.
U.S. officials say Russia used about 75 aircraft in today’s attacks.
“As a result of the strikes of the Russian Armed Forces, 74 ground objects of the military infrastructure of Ukraine were put out of action. Including 11 airfields of the air force, three command posts, a base point for the Naval Forces of Ukraine, as well as 18 radar stations of the S-300 and Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems,” said chief spokesman for the Russian defense ministry.
In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “The enemy has suffered heavy losses. Ukraine is under attack from the north, east and south. Attacked from the air. Protection works.” He stressed that the provision of weapons to all citizens who want to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty has already begun.
Ukraine has cut off all diplomatic ties with Russia. “We have severed diplomatic relations with Russia. For all those who have not yet lost their conscience in Russia, it is time to go out and protest against the war with Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.
Various reports spoke of several of Russian tanks destroyed with Javelin anti-tank missiles (which Ukraine had procured from the United States a few months before the war) and a Ka-52 helicopter downed by a missile fired by the Ukrainian Army.
Ukrainian forces claimed to have shot down a Russian Su-25 ground attack aircraft which the Kremlin described as having lost the aircraft to ‘piloting error.’
A Ukrainian military transport plane carrying 14 crewmen onboard crashed about 20km south of Kyiv on Thursday.
At least 40 Ukrainian soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed while several others have been wounded amidst the Russian incursion into Ukrainian territory. Four tanks have also been burned near Kharkiv.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance has put more than 100 warplanes on alert. It will reinforce troops on its eastern flank but has no plans to deploy any in Ukraine.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that troops from the ex-Soviet country could take part in Russia’s military operation against Ukraine if needed, the Belta news agency reported. Russian troops started arriving in Belarus last month to take part in massive joint large-scale military drills in early February.
Four missiles were allegedly launched from Belarus into Ukraine. The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (SBGS) claimed the country’s border with Belarus was attacked by troops from Russia and Belarus.