Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday announced the beginning of a military operation in Ukraine at the request of Donetsk and Lugansk authorities who sought his assistance to repel Kiev’s attempt to recover the two provinces which have declared their independence.
Putin said in urgent address that he would seek the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine and called upon the Ukrainian army to lay down weapons.
The Russian leader also warned a prompt response would ensue if foreign powers tried to meddle in the crisis through military action.
Explosions in a number of Ukrainian cities, including Kiev and Kharkov were heard during the last few hours, according to TASS.
Its purpose is to protect the people who have for eight years been exposed to humiliation and genocide by the regime in Kiev. For this we will seek demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, and also press for bringing to justice those who have committed numerous bloody crimes against peaceful civilians, including Russian citizens, Putin said.
Regarding an occupation of Ukraine, Putin insisted it was the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination what he was standing for. Our plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force, said Putin. He added Russia could not let Kiev obtain nuclear weapons and denounced NATO’s illegitimate expansion to the east.
Putin also urged the Ukrainian military to lay down arms at once and leave for home.
Those servicemen of the Ukrainian army who will meet this demand will be free to leave the zone of combat operations and return to their families. All responsibility for possible bloodshed will rest upon entirely on Ukraine’s ruling regime, Putin went on.
In his address to the Ukrainian people, Putin explained that Russia’s actions were taken in self-defense from threats and from a still greater misfortune than the one happening today.
However difficult it may be to do this, I am asking you to understand this and calling for cooperation in order to turn this tragic page as soon as possible and to move forward together, the Russian leader went on.
Putin also addressed the possibility of foreign intervention. Nobody should feel any doubts that a direct attack on Russia would end with the potential aggressor’s defeat and terrible consequences for the attacker, he warned.
Whoever may try to create obstructions to us, let alone pose threats to our country and our people, they should know that Russia’s response will follow without delay and entail consequences that you have never encountered in your history. We are prepared for any march of events. All necessary decisions in this connection will be made. I hope that I will be heard, Putin said.
Consistent with this announcement, Russia has closed its airspace to civilian aircraft on its western borders with Ukraine and Belarus, aviation authorities announced shortly after Putin's message.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Russian Armed Forces are destroying military infrastructure, air defense facilities, military airfields, aviation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces with high-precision weapons, not targeting Ukrainian cities.
US President Joseph Biden has issued a written statement, in which he blamed Russia for what he described as a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering, and warned that the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way.
Biden said that later Thursday he would make a special address to announce further measures against Russia.
NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that a meeting of the alliance’s member-countries will consider the effects of Russia’s actions towards Ukraine.
(Sources: TASS, Xinhua)