Ukraine ‘downs five Russian planes and helicopter’ after Putin invades

At least seven people have died in separate bombing by Russian forces, Ukrainian police say

Sirens echo through Ukrainian streets amid Russian invasion
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Ukraine claims it has shot down five Russian warplanes and a helicopter following Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

The Russian aircraft were brought down over the eastern Luhansk region, Kiev said.

Russia’s defence ministry has denied the claim, saying it had taken Ukrainian bases “out of action” and incapacitated the country’s air defences within hours.

Early this morning Russian troops launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine after Mr Putin authorised military action.

He warned other countries any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen”.

The first explosions were heard across the country shortly after 5am, in cities including Kiev, Kharkiv and Odesa.

At least seven people have died in bombing by Russian forces, according to Ukrainian police.

An attack at a military site in Podilsk outside Odessa killed six people and wounded seven others, officials say. Nineteen people are also missing.

One person died in the southeastern city of Mariupol, police said.

World leaders have condemned the invasion – saying it could leave many dead, topple Ukraine’s democratic government, and threaten post-Cold War relations.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky made a direct appeal to Russia, urging it to avoid a major war in Europe. He said he had tried to call Mr Putin this morning, but there was no answer. He has now declared martial law.

Ukrainians were urged to stay home and avoid panic, even as the country’s border guard agency reported an artillery barrage by Russian troops from neighbouring Belarus.

Mr Putin attempted to justify the invasion in a televised address. He said Russia could not feel safe with constant threats from Ukrainian soldiers, and claimed the attack was needed to protect civilians and end eight years of conflict involving pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

He accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands for security guarantees and to prevent Ukraine from joining Nato.

He claimed Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine. His goal, he said, was the demilitarisation and “denazification” of the country.

Joe Biden said Mr Putin had chosen a pre-meditated war. He pledged fresh sanctions against Russia for the invasion, which the US and allies had expected for weeks.

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