After months of speculation, weeks of worries, and last-ditch efforts at diplomacy, Russia has begun its full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
As one CNN headline read, "Kyiv has woken up to a new reality".
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THE BOMBINGS HAVE BEGUN
At 5:07am Ukraine time - 3:07am UK/Irish time - the sound of explosions were heard live on air during a CNN report in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Just five hours prior, Ukraine had begun a month-long state of emergency across the country.
In a moment of unusual honesty, reporter Matthew Chance is heard on-air telling one of his team members behind the camera "I told you we shouldn't have done a live shot here".
Less than an hour before that, President Putin had announced a "military operation" in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
Remember: Donbas is a region in eastern Ukraine. The territories of Donetsk and Luhansk - which Putin recognised as independent of Ukraine on Monday - are within the Donbas region.
Russian-backed separatists are recently understood to have controlled about a third of that region - with a low-intensity conflict there since 2014 responsible for the deaths of at least 13,000 people. Though Russia had always said it had no soldiers on the ground there, they were widely understood to have supplied the separatists.
In relation to Putin announcing overnight the military operation in the Donbas region, BBC News reported he "made the declaration... at the same time as the UN Security Council was imploring him to stop".
Worth noting: What is very awkward is that at the UN Security Council the presidency is held by a different country every month - passing along in alphabetical order.
Who is currently holding the presidency? You guessed it, Russia. The UK will hold it in April, followed by the US in May.
In the hours since the first explosions were heard, at least six areas have reported attacks. Below is a map from The New York Times - and that links to a very helpful article for anyone with a subscription.
Ukraine's President Zelensky estimated overnight there were 200,000 Russian troops massed near his country's border.
In the last two hours, there have been reports that troops are "moving in" from Belarus. CNN aired footage reportedly showing Russian tanks crossing the border from Belarus into Ukraine.
Remember: Belarus is often described as "Europe's last dictatorship". It is a country north of Ukraine, with strong ties to Russia.
As you can see in the map above, Belarus is approximately just 100km north of Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv.
Worth noting: Kyiv is also sometimes written 'Kiev'. In recent years, there has been a push from Ukraine's government for 'Kyiv' to be the spelling used internationally.
Why? As Euronews pointed out in 2019, "Kiev comes from the Russian way of pronouncing Ukraine's capital name".
RIGHT, LET'S TAKE IT BACK A BIT
On Wednesday night, the leaders of the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine requested help from Russia.
After Putin recognised these areas as independent of Ukraine on Monday, this was a move many predicted would happen.
Why did they want help? Well, they cite aggression against them from Ukraine's military as the reason.
"Russian authorities have cited a number of incidents in eastern Ukraine as a possible justification for military action. But the US has accused Russia of plotting so-called false flag incidents, provocations staged to create a pretext for action." - BBC analysis
In recent weeks, Putin has also claimed there is a "genocide" occurring in eastern Ukraine - and accused Ukraine's government of supporting it. Western leaders and Western media outlets have repeatedly said there is no evidence to support this claim.
OKAY, WHAT DO WE KNOW IS HAPPENING TODAY?
Looking ahead: President Biden is expected to give an address to Americans later today on the situation. In the UK, a COBR meeting is currently underway to discuss what the government described as "horrific" attacks on Ukraine.
Worth noting: For anyone unaware, COBR stands for 'Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms'. Government COBR meetings occur in moments of emergencies or significant concern.
President Biden tweeted Western allies will meet today and impose "severe sanctions on Russia". He also tweeted "the prayers of the world" are with the people of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden "has been crystal clear... he is not sending US troops to Ukraine".
During a speech on Tuesday, Biden made a point of saying "every inch of NATO territory" will be defended. Ukraine is not a member of NATO. It wants to be, and for Putin that has always been a red line.
While it is unclear what exactly the sanctions announced today will include, there is no mistaking the tweet below from Ukraine's Foreign Minister.
THE KNOCK-ON EFFECTS
Planes are no longer flying over any part of Ukraine.
In the last hour, much of the media are citing Ukraine's military, who say they have shot down five Russian planes and a helicopter. Russia denies this happened.
Also, oil prices surged to $100 a barrel after Putin announced the "military operation". As many media outlets reported, it is the first time it has reached such a price in more than seven years.
In terms of the impact on financial markets, CNN reported Asian markets and US stock futures "plunged" this morning. It also reported The Moscow Exchange has announced "it had suspended trading on all of its markets until further notice".
The overnight developments also appear to have had an impact on cryptocurrencies. Bloomberg reported Bitcoin "fell as much as 8.5%".
As you can imagine, there is so much online reaction right now. Below are a list of some of the most powerful and informative tweets we have come across.
For anyone who uses Twitter, here is a link to a very helpful list that has been compiled of journalists on the ground.
- BBC News: Putin unleashes Russian forces on Ukraine
- The Guardian: Markets shaken after Putin announces special military operation - as it happened
- The Financial Times: Biden imposes sanctions on Russia over Ukraine invasion
- Al Jazeera: RUSSIA LAUNCHES FULL-SCALE INVASION OF UKRAINE *speaking to the severity of the moment, this was published by Al Jazeera in caps lock
- The Irish Times: Ukraine declares martial law as foreign minister says Russia has launched 'full-scale invasion'
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