Russia attacks Ukraine

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 9:58 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022
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12:31 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Putin spoke with Belarus' Lukashenko on the Ukraine situation

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko spoke by phone on Thursday, according to Belarusian state news agency Belta.

"At about 5:00 a.m. today, a telephone conversation took place between the Presidents of Belarus and Russia, during which Vladimir Putin informed his Belarusian counterpart about the situation on the border with Ukraine and in the Donbas," Belta cited the Belarusian presidential press service as saying.

Troops entering Ukraine via Belarus: CNN has witnessed, through a livestream video, troops atop a column of military vehicles entering Ukraine from a border crossing with Belarus.

12:29 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Troops and military vehicles have entered Ukraine from Belarus

From CNN’s Paul Murphy

(from Ukrainian Border Guard)
(from Ukrainian Border Guard)

CNN has witnessed, through a livestream video, troops atop a column of military vehicles entering Ukraine from a border crossing with Belarus.

The livestream video was taken at the Senkivka, Ukraine crossing with Veselovka, Belarus. The column was seen entering Ukraine around 6:48 a.m. local time. 

In recent weeks, Russia has amassed a significant number of troops, vehicles and tanks in Belarus near the border with Ukraine. During that time, the two countries have held joint military exercises across the countries, and near the Belarus-Ukrainian border.

12:27 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Biden says he condemned Russian attack in call with Ukraine's Zelensky

From CNN's DJ Judd

Johanna Geron/Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Johanna Geron/Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In a statement, US President Joe Biden said he spoke late Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky via a secure call after Zelensky reached out.

"I condemned this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. I briefed him on the steps we are taking to rally international condemnation, including tonight at the United Nations Security Council,” Biden said in the statement, adding that Zelensky had asked him “to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against President Putin’s flagrant aggression, and to stand with the people of Ukraine."

Biden added that he will meet with the leaders of the G7 nations, and that the US and its allies would impose "severe sanctions on Russia."

12:27 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

This map shows where explosions have been reported

CNN reporters and witnesses in cities across Ukraine have reported hearing explosions in the early hours of Thursday.

Here's where:

  • Kyiv: CNN reporters in Ukraine's capital heard explosions from the east in the direction of the city's international airport. Social media users reported hearing several explosions in the Boryspil area to the east of the capital, where the international airport is located about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the city. CNN has not confirmed that the airport has been targeted.  
  • Kharkiv: A CNN team in Ukraine's second biggest city, in the northeast of the country, heard a "steady stream of loud explosions."
  • Kramatorsk: Two people in the eastern city, located about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of separatist-held Donetsk, told CNN they heard at least two massive explosions.
  • Dnipro: A resident of the central city told CNN they had heard "a few explosions."
  • Mariupol: Two residents told CNN they heard explosions east of the city, which is located in the southeast of the country.
  • Odessa: A CNN team in the Black Sea port city heard two groups of explosions about 20 minutes apart. 
  • Zaporizhzhia: A CNN team in the southeastern city said they heard at at least one very distant explosion.

Additionally, a CNN team in the Russian city of Belgorod, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Kharkiv, said they heard a regular stream of thuds that sounded like outgoing artillery fire.

12:30 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Top EU diplomat and European Council chief "strongly condemn" Russian attack

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

The European Union's High Representative Josep Borrell tweeted early Thursday morning, saying, “We strongly condemn Russia's unjustified attack on Ukraine." 

“In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” Borrell said. “We will hold the Kremlin accountable.”

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, posted the same tweet minutes before Borrell.

12:18 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Ukraine's foreign minister says "world must act immediately"

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the world to "act immediately" in response to Russia's military operation in the country.

In a tweet on Thursday morning, Kuleba wrote:

"The world must act immediately. Future of Europe & the world is at stake. To do list: 
1. Devastating sanctions on Russia NOW, including SWIFT
2. Fully isolate Russia by all means, in all formats 
3. Weapons, equipment for Ukraine 
4. Financial assistance 
5. Humanitarian assistance"
12:17 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Air raid sirens are going off in Ukraine's capital Kyiv

An explosion is seen in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv early Thursday, February 24.
An explosion is seen in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv early Thursday, February 24. (from Ukrainian President’s Office)

A photo provided by the Ukrainian President’s office appears to show an explosion in the country's capital, Kyiv, early Thursday morning.

CNN teams in Kyiv have been hearing explosions near the capital since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his military operation in Ukraine.

CNN also heard air sirens sounding for several minutes in Kyiv around 7 a.m. local time (12 a.m. ET), which could be heard across the city. CNN teams did not see or hear incoming fire.

12:15 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Ukrainian mayor urges citizens not to "panic" and says "everything is in order"

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

The mayor of the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro on Thursday reassured citizens, telling them not to "panic" following Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a military operation in eastern Ukraine.

In a post on his official Facebook page, Dnipro Mayor Borys Fylatov said the city has “everything in order.”

“Countrymen, please don't panic. Soon, when the exact level of threat is clear for Dnipro — I will keep you updated. Believe me, no one could believe in such a level of cynicism, but everything is in order. Let's keep in touch. God and Truth is behind us.” Fylatov posted.

Some context: A Dnipro resident earlier told CNN they had heard "a few explosions" in the city.

12:14 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Russian military claims it is not targeting Ukrainian cities

From CNN's Nathan Hodge 

The Russian military released a statement Thursday claiming it was not targeting Ukrainian cities, as CNN teams on the ground report explosions around the country. 

"The Russian Armed Forces are not launching any missile or artillery strikes on the cities of Ukraine. High-precision weapons destroy military infrastructure: military airfields, aviation, air defense facilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine," the statement read. "The civilian population is not at risk." 

CNN teams on the ground have reported explosions around Ukraine and outside of the Donbas region, where Putin announced a "special military operation" in the early hours of Thursday.