Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday, Feb. 24 a military operation in Ukraine to defend separatists in the east of the country, major news outlets in the world reported.
"I have made the decision of a military operation," he said in a surprise statement on television shortly before 6am Moscow time.
Politico reported Putin saying he is seeking the “demilitarisation and de-Nazification of Ukraine”, effectively declaring war on the country.
He is also claiming the operation is intended to protect civilians, and “don’t include occupation of Ukrainian territory”.
Putin also called on members of the Ukrainian army to lay down their arms and go home to their families.
“To anyone who would consider interfering from outside: If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All the relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me,” he said.
Putin added that Russia’s actions were about protecting Ukraine “from those who took Ukraine hostage”.
He also said the responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian “regime”, Associated Press reported.
Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen”.
He accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees.
After Putin’s address, Western media reported the sound of explosions in Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Donbass, Politico reported.
There was no immediate reaction from the White House to Putin’s remarks, AP reported.
United States president Joe Biden has delivered a statement on Russia’s “unprovoked and unjustified” attack on Ukraine.
A White House statement reads:
The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces.
President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.
Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.
Biden said he will meet his G7 counterparts before addressing the American people to announce the “further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression” against Ukraine and global peace and security.
“Jill and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine,” Biden added.
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