The military offensive in Ukraine is the culmination of several days of high tension provoked by the concentration of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine. According to Ukrainian defense forces, the attack began on the borders of Belarus and Crimea.
In announcing the attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the offensive was in response to a “call for help from the authorities of the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk”, in eastern Ukraine, whose independence he recognized on Monday, ignoring the agreement of Minsk, signed in 2014.
Here is the chronology of the main events of the last few hours that led to the entry of Russian troops into Ukrainian territory.
9 pm: The Russian presidency publicly announces that the leaders of the self-proclaimed breakaway republics (Lugansk and Donetsk), in eastern Ukraine, have asked Vladimir Putin for military help to “repel aggression” by Ukrainian troops.
Ukraine’s Parliament declares a state of emergency on national territory that came into force this Thursday.
11 pm: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky releases a video in which he asks Russian civil society to prevent a war between the two countries.
2.30 am: António Guterres makes a dramatic appeal to Putin at an emergency UN Security Council meeting. “If indeed an operation is being prepared, I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart: President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance,” he appealed.
2.50 am: Putin announces the start of an operation to protect the Russian-speaking population of the pro-Russian breakaway republics. He also warns other countries not to interfere or face unparalleled consequences.
3.20 pm: US President Joe Biden calls the offensive an “unwarranted attack” and accuses Putin of launching “a premeditated war that will result in catastrophic human suffering and loss”. Ten minutes later, the AFP agency reports the first explosions heard in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. In the following hours, identical reports emerge in the cities of Mariupol, Kramatorsk, Odessa, Kharkiv, and Lviv.
4.00 am: Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of NATO, condemns Russia’s “reckless and unprovoked attack”. At the UN Security Council, the Ukrainian ambassador asks the UN to stop the war. The Russian representative responds by saying that this is not a war, but a military operation. The French ambassador “condemns in the strongest terms” the attack and says that “Russia has made the choice of war”, while China considers that a peaceful solution is still possible.
Less than ten minutes later, Ukraine closes its airspace to civil aviation.
5.30 am: The Russian Civil Aviation Agency announces the cancellation of civil flights in several Russian cities near Ukraine and the Black Sea.
The EU Air Safety Agency informs air operators that Ukraine “is now an active conflict zone”, so there is a high risk for civil planes.
Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, condemns the “horrible events in Ukraine” and accuses Putin of having chosen the “path of bloodshed and destruction”.
6.55 am: The Prime Minister, António Costa, condemns the attack and announces that he has asked the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, for an urgent meeting of the Superior Council for National Defence.
Before the Council, Costa says he will meet with the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense, and with the Chief of Staff General of the Armed Forces.
A few minutes later, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa announced that he had called the meeting of the Superior Council for National Defense at 12:00 pm, at the Palácio de Belém.
In the end, the Council announces that it has unanimously given a favorable opinion to the Government’s proposals for the possible participation of Portuguese military assets in NATO standby forces.
8.15 am: Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa condemns the operation, declaring that it constitutes a “flagrant violation of international law”, and expresses “total solidarity” with the Ukrainian people.
9.50 am: The Portuguese embassy in Kyiv advises the approximately 200 in Ukraine to leave the country through the borders of Poland and Romania and announces that it has organized meeting points in two cities where they should go if necessary.
10:45 am: Hundreds of Ukrainians cross the border on foot towards Romania, seeking refuge in the homes of friends and family in the face of the Russian military operation, the Romanian authorities report.
10.55 am: Reports emerge of bombings outside Kyiv. The population begins to try to leave the city.
11:37 am: Attack on a military base near Odessa, in southern Ukraine, kills 18.
12:22: Kremlin says the Russian military operation in Ukraine will last as long as necessary, depending on its “results” and its “relevance”.
12.30 hours: The first official balance of the attack points to 40 Ukrainian soldiers and a dozen civilians killed in the first hours of the offensive.
At about the same time, military vehicles began to enter the Kyiv region from Belarus.
2.07 pm: Ukrainian military plane crashes outside Kyiv with 14 people on board.
2:20 pm: Sirens sound in Kyiv to warn the population of an imminent Russian air attack.
2.30 pm: The President of Ukraine decrees general mobilization of all persons of age to serve in the army.
2.40 pm: Russia announces that it has destroyed more than 70 targets in Ukraine. Of these, 11 were airstrips.
Sirens sound again in Kyiv, warning of a possible air attack.
3:15 pm: Russian military attempts to take over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
3.45 pm: The mayor of Kyiv decrees a nightly curfew, in force between 10 pm and 7 am.
Source: with agencies