Following Russian's Thursday morning invasion on Ukraine that saw heavy gunfire and shelling on Kiev and several other cities, officials in Ukrainian military have claimed to have shot down five Russian planes and a Russian helicopter in the separatist Luhansk region. On the other hand, Russia claimed that it destroyed Ukraine's airbases and air defenses, as massive shelling continued on Ukrainian cities.
The news comes as Putin declared a "special military operation" in Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning after months of massing his forces on the border and lying to world about his plans to invade. However, Ukraine is fighting back as confirmed by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukraine Hits Back
The Ukraine military said on Thursday that five Russian planes and a Russian helicopter were shot down in the Luhansk region, according to a Reuters report. Video footages circulating on social media show a plane engulfed in fire that reportedly was taken down by Ukrainian military.
The video shows heavy smoke engulfing an area in Luhansk. Other video footages show Russian planes constantly flying over Kiev with bombing sirens blurting out. According to Ukraine's border guard service, the Russian military has launched an attack on the country from Belarus.
According to the agency, Russian troops launched an artillery barrage as part of a Belarus-backed invasion.
Ukraine, on the other hand, has received modern anti-tank weapons as well as some drones from NATO allies. More has been offered as the allies try to discourage or at least make a Russian attack costly.
Since Thursday morning's attack, at least five cities have been bombed in Ukraine, including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Mariupol. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier made an emotional appeal for peace, delivered largely in Russian.
"You are being told that Ukraine can pose a threat to Russia. "It was not like this in the past, it is not like this now and it will not be so in the future. You demand security guarantees from NATO. We also demand guarantees of our security - from you, from Russia, and other guarantors of the Budapest memorandum," Zelenskyy said in a video address.
Russia in Destruction Mode
Since Thursday morning there have been reports of heavy shelling in Ukraine's airbases. Russia has claimed to have destroyed all of Ukraine's air bases and air defenses. According to state-owned Sputnik, Ukraine's air defenses have been neutralized, Russia's Defense Ministry said.
"The military infrastructure of Ukrainian military air bases has been put out of action. The air defense of the armed forces of Ukraine have been neutralized," the Russian Defense Ministry as stating.
Unconfirmed reports claimed that Russian forces had destroyed or rendered the Ukrainian navy inoperable, as well as taken control of Kiev's Boryspil Airport. Also. footage on social media shows the Ukrainian Naval Base in Odessa engulfed in smoke after it was bombed by Russian planes. Odessa is a port city on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine.
Unconfirmed reports on Twitter appeared to show a huge seaborne landing by Russian forces in the Black Sea port of Odessa, involving large landing craft and helicopters shortly before 6am local time. The footages came just half an hour after Putin announced troops to move into Ukraine.
Following the attack on Kiev and other cities, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky said the country was building an anti-Putin coalition to combat the military assault on the nation.