"We now have a war in Europe on a scale and of a type we thought belonged in history."
Those were the words yesterday of NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.
Click the screenshot below to access the podcast version of today's NewsFix.
As you all know, yesterday was an extraordinary and deeply concerning day in news. With such a fluid situation, and so many complex angles at play here, we understandably received a lot of questions.
As a result, we thought it best to change the format of today's newsletter, in the hopes it answers as many of your questions as possible.
IS UKRAINE'S PRESIDENT STILL IN THE COUNTRY?
Shortly after 10pm last night, Ukraine's President Zelensky signed a decree ordering "the mobilisation of all conscripts and reservists in all Ukrainian regions". As Sky News reported, it "paves the way for civilians to take up arms".
Earlier this morning, Zelensky is also quoted as being critical of the lack of international support received. He said he asked European leaders about Ukraine becoming a NATO member, saying "everyone is afraid, no one answers".
"This morning we are defending our state alone. Like yesterday, the world's most powerful forces are watching from afar." - President Zelensky
Meanwhile, President Macron of France said military equipment and €300 million worth of aid "would be offered to Ukraine".
Zelensky also said he and his family remain in Ukraine, despite intelligence he is a key target for Russian troops.
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also stated he is "convinced" Russia's goal is to overthrow the Ukrainian government. Here is a link to the entire transcript of Blinken's interview with ABC News.
WHAT ARE THE LATEST LINES FROM KYIV?
In the 2am hour local time in Ukraine, blasts were heard in the capital of Kyiv.
There have also been unconfirmed reports of an aircraft shot down over the capital. An apartment block in the city was damaged by a Russian missile attack.
People in the city have been advised to take shelter.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHERNOBYL?
After a "fierce battle", Russian troops seized the Chernobyl nuclear plant on Thursday. There are reports of Ukrainian soldiers being held there.
Why is this significant? In 1986, there was a nuclear disaster there. The area is unoccupied and remains radioactive to this day. Russia seizing the site sparked concern from international nuclear watchdogs.
Sky News noted the Russian troops may have sought to seize Chernobyl "because it offers the shortest route to Kyiv from staunch ally Belarus".
What exactly happened there? In 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant exposed millions to highly dangerous levels of radiation - in what has been described as "the world's worst nuclear disaster".
Many have said Soviet authorities made the situation even worse by failing in the beginning to publicly say what had happened.
While the explosion occurred in Ukraine, as you can see above it was very close to the border with Belarus. In fact, two-thirds of the contamination from the explosion fell in Belarus.
Years after the explosion, UNICEF stated Belarus absorbed 70% of the fallout, with more than 20% of its adolescent children suffering from chronic illness or disabilities.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE CIVILIAN IMPACT IN UKRAINE?
The UN now estimates roughly 100,000 people in Ukraine have fled their homes since the invasion began in the early hours of Thursday morning.
It is also being widely reported that thousands more have crossed borders into neighbouring countries, namely Poland and Romania per BBC News.
One video going viral this morning is a New York Times piece looking at newborn infants from a neonatal intensive care unit in the east of the country after being "moved into a makeshift bomb shelter on a lower level of the building".
Ukraine's president also said at least 137 civilians were killed on Thursday.
In terms of Russian impact, in the last hour Sky News cited the British Defence Secretary saying they have lost "more than 450 personnel".
COULD THIS ALSO HAPPEN IN OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES?
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged it was a "possibility" Putin would seek to go beyond Ukraine and into NATO countries, but added "there's something very powerful standing in the way of that".
The map above shows just how many countries near Ukraine are NATO members - the countries in white are the only ones who are NOT members of NATO, all in colour are members.
It is also important to note that NATO - the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - was established after WWII with a goal of countering Soviet aggression. It views an attack on one member state as an attack on all.
This is known as Article 5 of NATO. That is what Blinken is referring to when he says "something very powerful" in Putin's way.
Also, President Biden made it very clear in a speech on Tuesday, saying "every inch" of NATO territory would be defended.
HOW DO RUSSIAN CIVILIANS FEEL ABOUT THE INVASION?
Well, the country has a population of 144 million people - and not everyone of course is going to feel the same.
However, what is worth noting is the number of Russian celebrities who have spoken out against a war. Here is a link to the thread.
Meanwhile, videos of protests in Moscow also circulated online, with a Wall Street Journal reporter noting at least 850 people were detained for doing so by late Thursday. Some reports suggest there were anti-war protests in 40 cities across Russia.
More than 170 Russian journalists are understood to have written an open letter "calling for an end to war with Ukraine". Journalists working for RT and TASS - Russian state-run media organisations - are included in that number.
English journalist Jonny Tickle went viral for his tweet saying he had resigned from Russian state broadcaster RT "in light of recent events".
WHY WOULD RUSSIA EVEN WANT TO INVADE UKRAINE?
There is a lot to unpack here - but we have two recommendations that will really help get you up to speed!
First is a NewsFix piece we published back in January - All Eyes on Ukraine, Is Russia Going to Invade? It really gets to the heart of the historic ties between Ukraine and Russia, the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Putin's problem with NATO.
If you prefer to watch than read, the video explainer below by Ros Atkins is 👌🏼
A video that is going viral is worth mentioning. On a tiny island in the Black Sea, 13 Ukrainian soldiers were killed by Russians on Thursday.
However, audio from before the killing has gone viral.
As the Russians approached the island, they were heard telling the Ukrainian soldiers;
"This is a military warship. This is a Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed."
One of the now deceased Ukrainian soldiers is heard responding; "Russian warship, go f*** yourself". President Zelensky said they will be awarded posthumously.
Today's NewsFix was brought to you by Atlas Fit. Interested in sponsoring NewsFix? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Atlas Fit is a fitness equipment provider with a passion for promoting positive mental health through sports and exercise. We believe mental and physical health go hand-in-hand, and provide you the tools to feel as strong and healthy as possible - no matter your fitness level.
While raising awareness around mental health and breaking down the barriers one workout at a time, Atlas Fit also donates 10% of our sales to local mental health services. Strong body, strong mind!
ON A STRANGE NOTE...
American actor AnnaLynne McCord went truly viral Thursday after uploading a two-minute video of her reciting a poem to President Putin.
We're not really sure what the goal was, but it has now been viewed 17.6 million times in just 16 hours. Worth a watch 🙃