The Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation said on Thursday that it is targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure with precision weapons, after President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation against the country.
“Military infrastructure, air defence facilities, military airfields, and aviation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are being disabled with high-precision weapons,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement .
“There are no rocket or artillery attacks on the cities, and nothing is threatening the civilian population,” according to the statement.
According to local Ukrainian media, Russian forces began crossing the Ukrainian border “towards Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city”.
AFP quoted a witness saying that explosions had occurred near Ukraine’s Kramatorsk, and explosions were heard in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities near the front line and along the coast.
Ukraine subsequently announced the closure of its airspace to civilian aircraft, while Russia announced the cancellation of flights to Krasnodar, Sochi and Anapa in the south of the country.
Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday morning the start of a military operation in Donbass, saying that “confrontation between Russia and nationalist forces in Ukraine is inevitable.”
The Russian President also said that “the overall developments of events and analysis of information show that the confrontation between Russia and the nationalist forces in Ukraine is inevitable. It’s only a matter of time,” he said.
Open conflict between Russia and Ukraine started on February 24, when Russia declared a “demilitarisation and denazification” operation against Ukraine following eight years of regular Ukrainian attacks on Donetsk and Lugansk.