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Russia has begun attacking Ukraine, according to NATO officials. The attack late Wednesday night began moments after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he had “decided to conduct a special military operation” to protect eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. CBS News correspondents reported hearing loud blasts in the capital city, Kyiv, and in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

The attack came just two days after Putin recognized the self-declared “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, as independent, sending shockwaves across the globe and a new round of sanctions from the West. Putin also ordered Russian forces into the two “republics,” for what he called “peacekeeping functions.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Russia’s move to recognize the two territories “a clear attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and on Tuesday, President Biden said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had begun. Ukrainians — both the country’s military and its civilians — have been bracing for an expansion of the eight-year war in Donbas for weeks.

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On Wednesday, the government in Kyiv called up military reservists and lawmakers approved a national state of emergency. The emergency declaration gave authorities more power to “strengthen security of public places” outside of Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine’s national security chief Oleksiy Danilov said.

A map shows the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

Getty/iStockphoto

In response to Putin’s recognition of the breakaway regions Monday, Mr. Biden issued an executive order barring “new investment, trade and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in” Donetsk and Luhansk and imposing sanctions that target the regions.

Russia had massed roughly 190,000 forces near the Ukrainian border, and Mr. Biden on Friday said he was “convinced” Putin had decided to invade.