KIEV: Explosions rang out before dawn Thursday in Ukraine’s capital Kiev and several cities near the frontline and along the country’s coasts after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation.
AFP correspondents also heard blasts in the Black Sea port city of Odesa, close to the frontline of a Russian-backed rebel enclave and just across the sea from Russian-occupied Crimea.
Explosions also rang out in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which lies 35km south of the Russian border and outside the eastern zone where Kiev has been battling Moscow-backed insurgents since 2014.
Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian planes, and foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that his country was facing a “full-scale invasion”.
Closer to the eastern war zone, four loud blasts rang out in Kramatorsk, which serves as the Ukrainian government’s effective capital for the eastern war zone.
More blasts also rang out in Mariupol, a port on the Sea of Azov which provides a land bridge between Russia and the Kremlin-annexed Crimea peninsula.
“Russia’s offensive military operation is to destroy the Ukrainian state,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“Our defenders are ready to repel the aggressor state and will do everything in their power to defend Ukrainian land,” it added, calling on Ukraine’s Western allies to “immediately” impose new sanctions on Russia.