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Russia launches ‘full-scale invasion’ of Ukraine as explosions are heard in capital Kiev

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The Russian president announced the action during a televised address early on Thursday morning, saying the move was a response to threats from Ukraine.

The sound of distant blasts were picked up in a live broadcast from US outlet CNN, causing reporter Matthew Chance to put on a flak jacket.

Gunfire rattled near the capital’s main airport, the Interfax news agency said, and sirens were heard over the city.

Explosions have also been heard in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa, and in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv.

Media reported that military command centres in Kiev and Kharkiv had been struck by missiles while Russian troops had landed in Odessa and Mariupol.

A Reuters witness later heard three loud blasts in Mariupol.

The Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, said that Russia has launched a “full-scale invasion of Ukraine”.

Mr Kuleba said that Ukraine would defend itself against the Russian aggression “and will win”.

“Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes.

“This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win.

The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, declared martial law, urging citizens not to panic as Russia launches military strikes.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s ambassador at the United Nations has told the Security Council that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “declared war on Ukraine”.

He also pressed his Russian counterpart to state that Russia will not shell and bomb Ukrainian cities.

This photo shows a view of the city of Kiev on Thursday after Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine

/ AP

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