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Explosions heard in major Ukrainian cities following Putin’s announcement

Explosions rang out before dawn Thursday in Ukraine’s capital  Kyiv 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 Odessa, 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 35 kilometres (20 miles) south of the Russian border and outside the eastern zone where Kyiv 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 provide 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.



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