Here’s what you need to know about the Ukraine crisis right now:
* Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a “special military operation” against Ukraine early on Thursday to eliminate what he called a serious threat and demilitarize and ‘denazify’ Ukraine.
* Russian troops attacked Ukraine from Belarus as well as Russia with Belarusian support, and an attack was also being launched from annexed Crimea, Ukraine’s border guard service said.
* Gunfire was heard near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Ukraine said Russia was shelling across the country all the way to the western Lviv region.
* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky approved a decree on martial law.
* US President Joe Biden condemned the unprovoked and unjustified attack in a call with Zelensky, and said he and other G7 leaders would meet to discuss sanctions.
* European Union leaders will discuss tough new sanctions on Russia on Thursday in reaction to its “barbaric attack” on Ukraine, the EU said.
* Central European countries condemned Russia’s attack and started preparations to receive potentially hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Ukraine.
* China called for all parties involved in the situation in Ukraine ministry to exercise restraint and a foreign journalist rejected a foreign journalist’s description of Russia’s actions as an invasion.
– “I have decided to conduct a special military operation… to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide,” Putin said. “And for this we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.
“And to bring to court those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.”
– “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.
* US President Joe Biden will meet with his G7 counterparts early Thursday to map out more severe measures against Russia after Putin launched what Biden called “a premeditated war” against Ukraine.
* European Union leaders will discuss a further sanctions package on Russia at an emergency meeting later on Thursday, the EU said in a statement.
* NATO ambassadors to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday (Editing by Jon Boyle)