The Big Story: Ukrainians flee Kyiv, take shelter amid explosions as Russia launches attack

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Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its south coast on Thursday (Feb 24), officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east.

"I have made the decision of a military operation," he said in a surprise statement on television shortly before 6am local time (11am Singapore time).

Shortly after Mr Putin spoke in a televised address on Russian state TV, explosions rang out before dawn on Thursday in Ukraine's capital Kyiv.

The United States and its allies will respond in a united and decisive way to "an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces" on Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said after his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin authorised a special military operation in the country.

"President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering," Mr Biden said in a statement. "Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring. The world will hold Russia accountable."

Mr Biden also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky soon after the Russian move.

The Straits Times' US bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh discusses these developments.

In other headlines, the implementation date for changes to existing Covid-19 safe management measures will be revised, with a new date to be announced shortly, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday.

This is due to the current surge in daily cases, and the "extensive work" involved in going through the different rules in different settings, said MOH in a statement.

The current rules will remain in place in the meantime, it added.

Separately, doctors at some Public Health Preparedness Clinics are getting staff to perform additional shifts and hiring people in order to extend their operating hours and ease the strain on their colleagues in the healthcare system.

Family physician Dr Elly Sabrina, who is the director of Banyan Clinic in Woodlands, shares more about the crunch that GP clinics are facing on the ground with the surge in cases.

And in the third instalment of ST's Food in the Hood series, food correspondent Eunice Quek recommends the best eats in the western part of Singapore.

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