Ukraine on Thursday severed diplomatic ties with Russia, hours after Moscow launched a military intervention against its eastern neighbor.
"Ukraine is defending itself and shall not cede its freedom," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said defiantly in an address to the nation.
In what appeared to be an offer of criminal amnesty to help recruit soldiers, he also offered the “removal of penalties” on any citizen who takes up arms in the defense of Ukraine.
Zelenskyy earlier announced martial law across the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was launching an offensive to, in his words, “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine.
In a speech Monday, Putin tried to cast doubt on Ukraine’s sovereignty or whether it had any right to exist, in remarks widely disparaged by historians.
Putin's announcement of military intervention early Thursday drew international condemnation and announcements of tougher sanctions on Moscow.
The intervention followed a month-long buildup of some 100,000 troops around Ukraine, with Russia repeatedly denying any intent to launch an invasion.
Thursday there were also reports of explosions in several Ukrainian provinces, including the capital Kyiv, and several military vehicles reportedly crossed the border from Belarus into Ukraine.