Five Russian planes and one helicopter were shot down in Ukraine‘s Luhansk area on Thursday, according to the country’s military. Luhansk is one of Ukraine’s rebel districts that Russia recognised as independent earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry stated that Ukraine’s air defences had been “neutralised.”

Russia, according to sources, started an artillery bombardment near Ukraine’s northern border with Russia and Belarus. Ukrainian soldiers were retaliating.

In a televised address on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine. He stated that the military operation he announced is intended to “demilitarise” Ukraine and is in reaction to threats from Ukraine.

Large explosions were reported in several locations of Ukraine shortly after his declaration. At an emergency United Nations meeting, Ukraine’s delegate pleaded with everyone to “put an end to the violence.”

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden blasted Putin’s invasion order and stated that he will coordinate with Nato partners to respond to Russia’s actions.

Also Read | Russian military launches ‘special operation’ in Ukraine: 7 things to know

According to the news agency AFP, Russia established diplomatic contacts with Ukraine rebel regions that it recognises as independent entities on Tuesday.

This comes after Russia’s upper house authorised President Vladimir Putin to launch military operations outside the country, a move that might signal a bigger strike on Ukraine after the US declared an invasion had begun.

Also Read | ‘It’s too late’: Russian move roils UN meeting on Ukraine

Putin claimed that the issue may be addressed if Kyiv recognises Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014, abandons its NATO ambitions, and partially demilitarises. The West has already criticised Crimea’s takeover as a violation of international law and has been adamantly opposed to excluding Ukraine from NATO membership forever.

In reaction to Russia’s recent actions, various countries, including Japan, Canada, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, have announced sanctions.

Also Read | Russia-Ukraine crisis: What is martial law?

Ukraine declared martial law on Thursday, after Russia’s announcement of a “demilitarisation” operation, according to AFP. According to the news agency, explosions were heard in Kyiv and the eastern port city of Mariupol, and air raid sirens could be heard in the city centre.

Martial law is the temporary imposition of direct military authority over routine civic duties or the suspension of civil law by a government, usually in reaction to a temporary emergency in which civil forces are overwhelmed or in an occupied region.

Also Read | UN Security Council meets on Ukraine crisis, says ‘give peace a chance’

Ukraine declared a “state of emergency” on Wednesday in order to defend its economy and maintain political stability, according to Reuters, citing a senior Ukrainian security official. The state of emergency has been declared for 30 days, with the possibility of being extended.