Explosions rocked Ukraine’s capital, and the sirens of an air raid siren sounded again Friday morning as a Pentagon official informed U.S. lawmakers that Russian troops had advanced only 20 miles from Kyiv.
According to a source, Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed House lawmakers about newly placed Russian troops in an unclassified briefing on Thursday.
Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary, described the current phase in Russia's military operation the tip of a spear. He noted that most Russian troops have not yet reached Ukraine. One person on the line and one senior defense official agreed.
After Russia attacked key Ukrainian cities, causing hundreds of deaths and prompting the warning by the Ukrainian president that saboteurs had entered Kyiv.
In a statement, President Volodymyr Zeleskyy stated that at least 137 people were killed and 316 were injured in the invasion. Later, he warned against saboteurs entering capital.
"We also know that enemy sabotage group have entered Kyiv," Zelenskyy stated, adding that the enemy "marked me as the number 1 target."
He said, "They want Ukraine to be destroyed politically by destroying its head of state."
According to officials from Ukraine and emergency services, a building housing apartments in Kyiv was damaged by debris following the downing of an aircraft around the time Zelenskyy gave his video address.
Shelling and explosions were heard in major cities in Ukraine on Thursday morning around 5 a.m., local time. This was just minutes after Russian President Vladimir Putin had given a pre-dawn broadcast from Moscow indicating that he was authorizing military actions. He warned that other countries would be confronted with a Russian response if they attempted to intervene.
Thursday's Russian troops took control of Chernobyl, north Kyiv. This location was the site for the 1986 reactor explosion that released large amounts of radiation into our environment.
Anton Gerashchenko (an interior ministry adviser) stated that the Russians have captured Chernobyl's nuclear power plant. A Zelenskyy aide confirmed the news to The Associated Press. The purpose of the seizure was to capture a strategic location on the invading route from Belarus to Kyiv, and deny it to Ukrainian forces.
Gerashchenko warned of the possibility that radioactive dust could be released if there is a strike at the nuclear waste storage facility. This could affect Ukraine, Belarus, and other countries in the European Union.
Zelenskyy, in remarks broadcast Thursday morning, urged Ukrainians to arm themselves for self-defense against the Russian invasion.
He said, "We are being targeted from the north, south, east, and the air." "We are giving out weapons and will continue to do so to anyone who asks for them to safeguard our sovereignty. Every citizen is vital to our future.
Later, he issued an order to mobilize the military "ensure defense of the state."
Western countries quickly responded by announcing new restrictions. President Joe Biden announced that a new round of sanctions would be used against several Russian banks, including two major state-owned institutions, Sberbank, and VTB.
He stated, "That means that every asset they have here in America will be frozen."
The U.S. also restricted certain exports to Russia, and targeted elites close Putin. However, the U.S. plans did not include one of the more severe punitive measures: cutting Russia out of the Belgian financial message system, known as SWIFT. This connects more than 11,000 financial institutions across over 200 countries and territories.
Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose to wage war. Biden stated that Putin and his country would now bear the consequences.
After Putin's move to send troops into the Moscow-backed regions of eastern Ukraine, the administration took action. Biden also stated that he would send additional troops to Germany and Poland from the U.S., in addition to the ones already deployed to or redeployed within Europe over the past few days.
After a meeting on the conflict, the Group of Seven economic leaders also condemned Putin and promised "severe economic and financial sanctions."
"President Putin has reintroduced warfare to the European continent. Their statement stated that Putin has "put himself on the wrong side" of history. G7 called on the international community "to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and to raise their voices against this blatant violation the fundamental principles international peace and security."
NATO stated that the attack was unjustified and unprovoked and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic Security. It also said it would deploy additional forces to the alliance's "eastern" part and additional maritime assets.
The U.S. and United Kingdom announced sanctions against Belarus in response to their support for the invasion. According to the Treasury Department, sanctions imposed by the Biden administration targeted state-owned banks, the country’s defense and security industry and a number its "regime connected officials and elites". The White House released a statement requesting that Belarus withdraw its support of Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Officials from Ukraine reported that missiles and cruisers were hitting military control centers in Kyiv as the fighting raged. NBC News reporters in the field reported that sirens broadcasted from the city and that explosions could be heard and seen throughout the city.
According to Ukrainian officials, the Russian forces used missile attacks and shelling to attack airfields, military bases, and infrastructure in Ukraine. Several Russian troops were also killed.
According to a senior U.S. defense official, Russia has launched more than 160 missiles in the time since the strikes began.
Zelenskyy posted remarks on Telegram and asked for Ukrainian citizens' assistance in supporting the defense forces. He also requested that anyone with military experience join the effort.
He said that the sounds we hear today aren't just missile strikes, rocket explosions, and rockets. It's also the sound of the Iron Curtain breaking down and closing Russia off from the rest of civilized Earth."
He said, "Unfortunately, there are many losses among our heroes but we also have taken the Russian military hostage." "We have destroyed many Russian aircraft and military equipment. Many Russians are shocked by what's happening, I can see. Some started to post on social media saying they were against the invasion.
According to Ukraine, the Russian military attacked with the support of Belarus where Russian troops have been stationed for several months. The government claimed that surveillance video from Ukraine's Border Guard Service filmed tanks and armored vehicles crossing into Ukraine via Belarus. It also showed ballistic missiles being fired from Belarus in a southwest direction.
Officials from Ukraine said that battles took place also in Hostomel, just outside Kyiv. This is the location of an international cargo airport, as well in the area around Kharkiv and Kherson.
Also, the government reported that it had been subject to "massive cyberattacks". NBC News could not confirm government reports on casualties, battles, troop movements.
A high-ranking U.S. defense official stated that Russia was "making moves on Kyiv," and that the U.S. assessment of Putin's actions states that Russia "essentially intends to decapitate the government and install their own method for governance."
According to the official, Russia's actions indicate that the invasion is still in its initial phase.
The official stated that they have not been surprised by what they have seen so far. It is in line with expectations.
Retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former supreme Allied commander in NATO , and a contributor to NBC News, stated that he believed Russian forces would attempt to capture Zelenskyy.
Putin claimed that he wanted the "demilitarization of Ukraine" and that the West had gone too far in trying draw it into NATO. He also claimed that Ukraine was home to Nazi elements, which experts disputed.
He also claimed that Ukraine was subjecting Russian speakers "genocide," an assertion which international monitors on ground reject.
Dmitry Peskov (Russia's spokesperson) stated that Russia's goal is to "neutralize Ukraine's military potential" at a news conference after the incursion. He said that Russia was not talking to Ukraine.
There is very little evidence that Russia claims to have attacked Ukraine, and the U.S. warned for months about Moscow's attempts to create a pretextto begin a conflict.
Fear and gridlock in Kyiv
According to live television images and NBC News journalists, the gridlock was caused by families trying to flee the city of 3,000,000. Long lines were seen at gas stations, grocery stores, and ATMs.
Mayor announced a curfew between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and opened subway stations to residents as shelters.
The Russian border is less than 20 miles away from Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine. There were explosions and stores closed as Russian citizens stockpiled food and gasoline. Matt Bradley, NBC News' foreign correspondent, reported that there was also an explosion. The mayor stated that Russian tanks were located near the city's ring road and that residents should be safe at subway stations.
According to the Infrastructure Ministry of Ukraine, over 3,100 Ukrainians have been evacuated from Donetsk, Luhansk, and other regions in the east. More evacuations are expected on Thursday.
Russia had already surrounded Ukraine from three sides with 150,000 troops and air and naval forces prior to the invasion. This buildup and Moscow's bold security demands prompted fears of an invasion for several weeks. severe predictions of civilian casualties and military deaths were also made.
Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, tweeted that the world must stop Putin after the fighting started. At the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian Ambassador, spoke directly to his Russian counterpart and said: "There's no purgatory or hell for war criminals." They will go straight to hell.