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Russia claims destruction of 74 Ukrainian military facilities as land assaults begin — citizens flee cities in fear, take shelter in subway stations

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ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

Russia's Defense Ministry claimed early Thursday that the Russian military had already destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities — including 11 airbases — only hours into the launch of its full-scale invasion of the neighboring country.

What are the details?

As of Thursday morning, Ukraine reported at least 40 soldiers and up to 10 civilians had been killed in the shocking military advance, though those numbers are expected to rise in the coming hours and days.

Only hours before, Russian President Vladimir Putin cast aside global condemnation and threats of harsh economic sanctioning when he announced a "special military operation" had begun in southeastern Ukraine. The West called the maneuver what it actually was: a declaration of war.

Under the cover of darkness, the Russian military launched airstrikes on cities across Ukraine, from the Donbas region — where Putin falsely claims he is acting in defense of Russian separatists — to Kharkiv in the northeast just 30 miles from the Russian border, to Ukraine's capital in Kyiv.

Explosions seen across eastern Ukraine as Russia launches full scale invasion www.youtube.com

On Thursday, Ukraine’s military chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, reportedly said Ukrainian troops were fighting the Russian army in the country's north and south.

According to the Associated Press, Zaluzhnyi said a battle was raging near the Hostomel airbase just under five miles northwest of the capital, Kyiv. The north-central location of the capital indicates that Russian troops had advanced significantly into Ukraine.

He added that in the south, more fighting was going on near Henichesk, Skadovsk, and Chaplynka. Putin has claimed Russia will only attack Ukrainian military facilities.

In Luhansk, in the southeast, video appeared to show Russian tanks traveling through emptied city streets. Meanwhile, Putin carried on as usual, reportedly maintaining his scheduled meeting in Moscow with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

What else?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reportedly said that Russian forces were trying to seize the area surrounding the former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, near the Ukraine-Belarusian border.

"Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated,” Zelenskyy said in a statement, adding, "This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe."

The president previously severed diplomatic ties and declared martial law. In a tweet, he also pleaded with sympathetic Russian citizens to protest their government's warring.

Anything else?

Many Ukrainians have responded to the onslaught by attempting to withdraw cash and flee major urban centers, though reporters have noted that highways have quickly become jammed with traffic and ATMs have been emptied of cash. Grocery stores, too, are reportedly being rapidly cleared of products.

Others have taken shelter in subway stations, hoping they will serve as improvised bomb shelters.

"I heard noise and woke up. I realized it sounded like artillery," one Kyiv resident recounted to reporters. He jumped from the couch and ran to wake his mother as another explosion went off behind him.

Air raid sirens began to sound in the city.

Still others have remained defiant in the face of attack, the AP reported.

"I’m not afraid. I’m going to work. The only unusual thing is that you can’t find a taxi in Kyiv," another resident lamented early Thursday. Perspective may change as the day draws out.

That sentiment was offered by another, who said, "I’m not scared at the moment. Maybe I’ll be scared later."

War on the European content is unprecedented for this generation. The reality is perhaps taking longer to set in for some.

"I feel panic, scared and excited. I don’t know who I should ask for help," added another Kyiv resident. "We didn’t believe this situation would come."

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