Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, described the invasion as “a special military operation” rather than a war, and Russia said civilians would not be attacked. But Putin has lied repeatedly in the run-up to the invasion, and it was unclear whether those comments had any meaning.
Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed to have disabled all of Ukraine’s air defenses and airbases by about 8 a.m. local time, according to Anton Troianovski, The Times’s Moscow bureau chief. (Ukraine is seven hours ahead of New York.)
Putin warned other countries that interfering with the invasion would bring about “such consequences as you have never before experienced in your history.” Some analysts wondered whether that line amounted to a threat to use nuclear weapons.
Shortly before 7 a.m. local time, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, declared martial law and asked people to remain at home and stay calm.
Ukrainian forces have shot down six Russian fighters and a helicopter during intense battles to maintain control over cities, a senior Ukrainian military official said. Ukrainian troops also claim to have repelled, for the time being, Russian advances on two major cities: Chernihiv, in the north near Belarus, and Kharkiv, in the northeast close to Russia’s border.
President Biden condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified” attack, calling it “a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.” He said he would announce “severe sanctions” against Russia today.
Both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill called for the U.S. to support Ukraine. “If Putin does not pay a devastating price for this transgression, then our own security will soon be at risk” Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said. Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, said, “The U.S. will stand with our Ukrainian allies,” with continued aid, and would hold Putin accountable. (Here’s an explanation of Republican tensions over Ukraine.)
NATO will hold an emergency session this morning, according to The Times’s Steven Erlanger. “NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend all allies,” Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but its growing closeness to the U.S. and western Europe has angered Putin.
While Putin was announcing the invasion, the United Nations Security Council was in the middle of an emergency meeting. It resulted in a remarkable scene, as diplomats reacted to the news. “There is no purgatory for war criminals,” Ukraine’s ambassador said to his Russian counterpart. “They go straight to hell, ambassador.”
China’s government sought to maintain its delicate balancing act on the crisis, reiterating calls for diplomacy while also approving imports of Russian wheat, which could soften the impact of Western sanctions.
On global markets, the price of oil jumped above $100 a barrel. Asian stock indexes were down about 3 percent at 6:20 a.m. Eastern.
CNN’s Daniel Dale has compiled a list of reporters in Ukraine.
Many Russians feel a deep unease about going to war.
In Times Opinion, Richard Haass writes, “The West must show Putin how wrong he is to choose war.”
You can follow the latest throughout the day on this Times page.