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Russia-Ukraine war LIVE updates: Russian forces attack from three sides

News Express:
Russian troops have launched a massive offensive in Ukraine, shooting arrows at cities and military bases. The attack on land, air and sea began after a televised address in the early hours of the morning when Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that Ukrainian troops lay down their weapons.

Initial reports of casualties included Ukrainian citizens and soldiers, as well as Russian troops. The Ukrainian leader said his country "will not relinquish its freedom". "Russia is on the wrong track, but Ukraine is defending itself," President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted. Ukraine has declared war law and cut off all relations with Russia. It says weapons will be given to anyone who wants them.

Read More: Russia destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities including 11 air bases

The capital, Kyiv, home to about three million people, has sounded the alarm as traffic jams lined the town and crowds seeking refuge at municipal stations. "We do not understand what we should do now," a woman named Svetlana told the BBC. "Now we are going to a place where we can be safe and hope that we will travel safely."

Mark, 27, a marketing officer, said he was ready to be called up for the fight. "We have no other option," he said. Several neighboring countries have already begun making arrangements to take in large numbers of refugees. Moldova alone said more than 4,000 people had crossed the border from Ukraine.

Thursday's attack followed weeks of tensions, as Russia piled up troops at the Ukrainian border. The UK, the EU and other Western allies have vowed to impose harsher sanctions on Moscow, but say they will not send troops. "These are among the darkest hours in Europe since World War II," said EU Commissioner Josep Borrell.

Dozens of people were killed, including about ten residents. Six people were killed in an air strike at Brovary near the capital Kyiv. A man was also killed in a bomb blast outside the northeastern city of Kharkiv. An adviser to the president of Ukraine said more than 40 soldiers had been killed and others wounded. Ukraine has said it has killed 50 Russian soldiers and shot down six Russian planes, but this has not yet been confirmed.

What Russia intends

Mr Zelensky said Russia had deployed nearly 200,000 troops and thousands of combat vehicles to the Ukrainian border ahead of Thursday's attack.

Moscow first beat Ukraine's military infrastructure and border guards. The Ukrainian military then claimed that Russian military vehicles crossed the border near Kharkiv in the north, Luhansk in the east, Crimea connected by southern Russia and Belarus. Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has said his country's military is not involved but could be available if needed.

Russian tanks later appeared on the outskirts of Kharkiv, a city of 1.4 million people. Russian troops reportedly reached the seas in the Ukrainian capital cities of Odesa in the Black Sea and Mariupol in the inland waters of Azov.

Most of the fighting seems to be focused on the east. Residents of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, say windows in their homes were shaking as a result of the ongoing explosion as Ukrainian and Russian troops opened fire on one another.

But clashes have been taking place near the capital Kyiv north and the southern ports of Odesa and Mariupol. The Ukrainian military has said Kyiv's Boryspil airport is among the many bombed-out airports, as well as military bases and depots in the major cities of Kyiv, Dnipro, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

BBC-confirmed photos show arrows shooting at an airport in the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk. Russia has said it has destroyed more than 70 weapons.

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