Ukraine is under fire from Russia this morning, February 24, as sirens wailed and explosions reverberated in major Ukrainian cities, including the capitol Kyiv. At least forty people have died from missile strikes, according to officials.

Ukraine’s border service says Russian troops are attacking from the north, south, and east, using artillery tanks and small arms that have killed at least forty people and left several dozens injured.

U.S. President Joe Biden condemned Russia, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin has started a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.

Putin announced the attack on state TV in Russia, claiming the assault is intended to protect civilians.

Ukrainians woke up on February 24 to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy telling them authorities would hand weapons to all those willing to defend the country, Newsweek reports.

“Today, Russia began an attack on Ukraine,” he said in a morning video. “Putin began the war against Ukraine, against the entire democratic world. He wants to destroy my country. Our country. Everything we’ve been building. Everything we are living for.”  

During an emergency meeting on the night of February 23, members of the United Nations Security Council (NATO) pleaded for peace.

“At the exact time as we are gathered in the council seeking peace, Putin delivered a message of war, so he made the decision for a special military operation in the Donbas,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said. “I call every one of you to do everything possible to stop this all.”

Putin told members of the Ukrainian military to put their guns down and go home. Putin also warned outside countries not to interfere in the invasion.

NATO, as an organization, said it would not launch any military action in Ukraine. 

Bombs have already begun to fall, prompting people in Kyiv to flee, putting children and pets in cars as they try to drive out of town. People are said to be heading west in the direction of Poland. Many are stuck on the highway, and traffic is at a standstill.

Some Ukrainians have decided to stay in Kyiv because they don’t have the money to leave, and for others, patriotism and a desire to fight are keeping them in the capital city.

Residents who remain are taking shelter in their basements and inside the country’s subway system.

CNN Business reported that U.S. stocks tumbled after Russia launched the attack against Ukraine Thursday. The news agency said that global stocks have also plunged.

In a speech at the White House on Thursday afternoon, Biden is expected to announce “further consequences” for Russia following the attack on Ukraine, which has plunged Europe into one of its most serious security crises since World War II.