On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered war (military action) in Ukraine, followed by explosions heard across the country, sparking fury from Joe Biden, who warned of “catastrophic loss of life.” Weeks of intense diplomacy and the introduction of Western sanctions on Russia failed to deter Putin, who had gathered between 150,000 and 200,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders.
Putin made a surprise television announcement soon before 6:00 a.m. (0300 GMT) in Moscow, saying, “I have decided on a military operation.” He also urged Ukrainian soldiers to lay down their weapons and justified the invasion by claiming “genocide” in the east of the country.
Blasts have been noticed in Ukraine after the announcement of War
The Kremlin had previously stated that rebel commanders in eastern Ukraine have requested military assistance from Moscow in their fight against Kyiv.
Within 30 minutes of Putin’s statement, an AFP reporter in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, heard explosions. According to AFP correspondents, explosions were also reported in the eastern city of Mariupol and the Black Sea port of Odessa.
President Biden of the United States quickly threatened Russia with “consequences” and stated that the world would “hold Russia accountable” for its conduct.
He predicted “catastrophic loss of life and human misery” as a result of Russia’s action of enforcing war, while NATO’s leader slammed Russia’s “reckless and unprovoked strike” on Ukraine.
Ukraine urged the United Nations to “do all possible” to put an end to the conflict.
Late Wednesday night, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky issued an anguished plea to Russians not to embrace a “big conflict in Europe.”
In Russia, Zelensky claimed that the Russian people were being misled on Ukraine. Zelensky said he tried calling Putin but got “no answer, only quiet,” and that Moscow now has roughly 200,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders. Separatist leaders in Donetsk and Lugansk wrote separate letters to Putin on Wednesday, pleading with him to “assist them in repelling Ukraine’s aggression,” according to Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
The two letters, both dated February 22, were published by Russian official media. Their appeals followed Putin’s recognition of their independence and the signing of friendship treaties with them, which included defense agreements.
Putin had fought a storm of international criticism over the situation for weeks, with some Western leaders accusing him of losing his cool. His declaration of the military operation came only days before a last-ditch European Union summit in Brussels scheduled for Thursday.
Another aspect of the wave of Western punishment following Putin’s attempt to rewrite Ukraine’s borders was the imposition of sanctions on Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, and high-ranking personnel including the commanders of Russia’s army, navy, and air force. The UN Security Council gathered late Wednesday for its second emergency session in three days to discuss the crisis, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ personal appeal to Putin remaining unanswered.
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