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Ukraine military shoots down five Russian planes, helicopter in Luhansk

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

Kyiv: In a fresh development in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the Ukraine military on Thursday claimed to have shot down five Russian planes and a Russian helicopter in the breakaway Luhansk region shortly after Moscow launched a military operation against the country.

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Ukraine military claims five Russian planes and a Russian helicopter were shot down in the Luhansk region, according to sources.

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Ukraine’s border guard agency said that the Russian military has attacked the country from neighbouring Belarus. The agency said the Russian troops unleashed an artillery barrage as part of an attack backed by Belarus.

They said the Ukrainian border guards were firing back, adding that there was no immediate report of casualties. Russian troops have deployed to its ally Belarus for military drills, a move that the West saw as a prelude to an invasion of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv is about 75 km (50 miles) south of the border with Belarus.

Meanwhile, Russia claimed that it has destroyed Ukraine’s air bases and its air defences. “Military infrastructure at Ukrainian army air bases has been rendered out of action,” the defence ministry said in a statement carried by news agencies, which added that Kyiv’s air defence systems were “eliminated”.

Ukraine has around 200,000 military personnel and could boost that with up to 250,000 reservists. Moscow’s total forces are much larger — around a million active-duty personnel — and have been modernised and re-armed in recent years.

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But Ukraine has received advanced anti-tank weapons and some drones from NATO members. More have been promised as the allies try to deter a Russian attack or at least make it costly.

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.

Ukrainian President warned that a Russian invasion would cost tens of thousands of lives and reassured that his country posed no threat and will not pose any threat to Russia in future. The White House too responded by warning that Putin will face significant consequences if Moscow invades Ukraine.

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