The highways out of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were jammed with traffic on Thursday, as thousands of Ukrainians fled their homes in the first hours after a Russian invasion of their country began.
Residents of the Ukrainian capital were awakened by a series of early morning missile and air strikes, followed by the belated sound of an air raid siren. Attacks were reported on cities across the country, with airports and military bases – along with the Black Sea port of Odessa – appearing to be the main target in the first wave.
In a televised address broadcast as the attack began, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would “lead to consequences you have never seen in history.” He said the aim was to “demilitarize” Ukraine – a country he has sought to portray as a threat to Russia – and said his army didn’t plan to occupy the country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the war was about more than just this country. He said Mr. Putin “has unleashed a war with Ukraine and the entire democratic world” and “wants to destroy our state, everything that we have built.”
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