KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — Europe was plunged into its gravest crisis in decades early Thursday as Russia defied international law and threats of devastating economic sanctions by mounting a deadly full-scale invasion of Ukraine, threatening the safety of millions and sending citizens across the country scrambling for refuge as missiles fell from the sky.
The Russian attack began in the early morning hours and came by land, air, and sea. Shelling and explosions struck all parts of the country, far beyond the front lines in eastern Ukraine, signifying a dramatic escalation of Russia’s 2014 invasion.
“We woke up to a drastically different world,” Emine Dzheppar, Ukraine’s first deputy foreign minister, told BuzzFeed News.
The Russian military claimed to have destroyed more than 80 Ukrainian military sites, including 11 airfields, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a briefing from Moscow.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed his country late Thursday, swapping his suit and tie for a military uniform. He said that at least 137 Ukrainians had been killed so far in the Russian invasion, including both civilian and military casualties.
Zelensky ordered a full military mobilization, calling up all conscripts and reservists in order to combat Russia’s actions, which he compared to those of the Soviet Union, describing the invasion as the “sound of the new Iron Curtain that’s falling and closing Russia from the civilized world.”
“Our task is for that curtain not to fall on Ukrainian territory,” Zelensky said.