UPDATE: 40 Ukrainians, 50 Russian Soldiers Killed, Says Ukraine Authorities

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Ukraine says it has downed five Russian planes and a helicopter in the east of the country.

Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin authorised a military operation.

Over 40 Ukrainians and 50 Russian soldiers have died. Eighteen civilians in Ukraine’s Odessa were also killed in a missile attack.

Ukraine says it has killed ‘around 50 Russian occupiers’. The announcement came hours after Russia’s ground forces crossed into Ukraine from several directions, NDTV reports.

The Russian defence ministry said it has destroyed air bases, air defences in Ukraine with precision weapons.

A Ukrainian military plane with 14 people aboard crashed south of Kyiv on Thursday, emergency services said.

“According to the Joint Forces Command, today, February 24, in the area of the Joint Forces operation, five planes and a helicopter of the aggressors were shot down,” the army general staff said.

Anton Gerashchenko, Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, said that Russia has fired missiles on military headquarters, airports, military warehouses near Kyiv, Kharkov and Dnieper.

Local media reported explosions in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Gunfire was also heard near the capital’s main airport.

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