It’s War: Putin Invades Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special “military operation” to protect the Donbas, the separatist-held region in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, while in reality launching an all-out invasion of Ukraine, starting with a series of missile attacks to take out Ukraine’s military installations, before the ground and air combat forces moved in. Late on Thursday night, India time, the Russian forces had captured the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, as well as the Antonov airport less than 30 km from capital Kiev. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has imposed a nationwide emergency and severed his country’s diplomatic relations with Moscow. On Thursday, US time, President Joe Biden announced major sanctions, including on five Russian banks, that together hold $1 trillion, including Russia’s largest bank that holds more than one third of Russia’s banking assets.

Delivering an emergency address, Putin said the operation had been launched to demilitarize Ukraine. He warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences”. Putin said the operation has been launched to demilitarize Ukraine and defend people’s “suffering, persecution and genocide” by the Kiev regime. “I have taken the decision to carry out a special military operation. Its goal will be to defend people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime. For this we will aim for demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine,” said Putin, asking the Ukrainian soldiers to lay down arms.

Multiple explosions were heard near the main airport in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev soon after Russia announced the military operation in Ukraine. Several reports indicate several explosions in the Boryspil area to the east of the capital, CNN reported. According to the American broadcaster, at least two massive explosions were reported in the early hours of Thursday.

This comes hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine did not and would not pose a threat to Russia. In an emotional video address delivered largely in Russian, Zelenskyy said: “You are being told that Ukraine can pose a threat to Russia. It was not like this in the past, it is not like this now and it will not be so in the future. You demand security guarantees from NATO. We also demand guarantees of our security—from you, from Russia, and other guarantors of the Budapest memorandum.”

Zelenskyy also announced the decision of severing his country’s diplomatic relations with Moscow. Zelenskyy warned that a Russian invasion would cost tens of thousands of lives. “Kiev is terminating diplomatic relations with Moscow amid Russia’s military operation,” the Russian News Agency Sputnik quoted Zelenskyy as saying. Ukraine gained independence in 1991 after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. “We have severed diplomatic relations with Russia,” Zelenskyy said. The Ukrainian authorities will inform the press on how the situation unfolds every hour, he added.

Zelenskyy also tweeted, “A package of additional tough sanctions against Russia from the EU is approaching. Discussed all the details with Emmanuel Macron,”. “We demand the disconnection of Russia from SWIFT, the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine and other effective steps to stop the aggressor,” Zelenskyy added.

Zelenskyy is also creating an anti-Russia coalition against President Vladimir Putin.

He said that he had spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron, President of EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria Karl Nehammer about concrete sanctions and assistance for the military.

Earlier in a series of tweets, the Ukrainian President said, “We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities.”

A report from Washington condemned Russia’s “unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine”. US President Joe Biden said that the premeditated war will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human. “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,” said Biden, as per a statement released by White House. Asserting that the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way, Biden said that Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring. The world will hold Russia accountable, he added. The US President further said that he would be monitoring the situation from the White House as of now and will meet with his G7 counterparts in the morning. “Tomorrow, I will meet with my G7 counterparts in the morning and then speak to 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,” he said. Biden said that the US will also coordinate with its NATO allies to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the alliance. “Tonight, Jill (First Lady Jill Biden) and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine,” he added.

A report from Paris quoted French President Emmanuel Macron as saying that Russia must “immediately” end military operations in Ukraine. “France strongly condemns Russia’s decision to wage war on Ukraine. Russia must end its military operations immediately,” he said in a tweet on Thursday. “France stands in solidarity with Ukraine. It stands with Ukrainians and is working with its partners and allies to end the war.” The Elysee Palace said that Macron spoke with Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelenskyy during which Zelenskyy asked for “multiple interventions” to support Ukraine. He also requested “unity in Europe.”

A report from London said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday termed the Russian invasion of Kiev as a “catastrophe for the European continent” and said that Britain and its allies “will respond decisively”. “I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the next steps. President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine. The UK and our allies will respond decisively,” tweeted Johnson.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday said that the organization has activated its defence plans, however, there will be no deployment of troops inside Ukraine, a report from Brussels, Belgium, said. “Today, we activated NATO’s defence plans that give our military commanders more authority to deploy forces when needed. No NATO troops inside Ukraine. We are increasing the presence of NATO troops in the eastern part of all the alliance on NATO territory,” said Stoltenberg in a press briefing after an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council on Russia’s unprovoked and “unjustified attack” on Ukraine. He said that over 100 jets and 120 allied ships have been sent to the Mediterranean region. “We have over 100 jets at high alert protecting our airspace and more than 120 allied ships at sea from north to the Mediterranean. We will do whatever is necessary to shield the alliance from aggression. NATO leaders to meet tomorrow to address the way forward,” said NATO Secretary-General. Stoltenberg also said that democracy will always prevail over autocracy. He said that NATO stands in solidarity with Ukraine. “NATO allies are imposing severe costs on Russia for their reckless invasion of Ukraine. NATO allies in close coordination with EU and other partners all over the world are now imposing severe economic sanctions on Russia,” said NATO chief. He also said that over the years NATO has been providing practical support, military support to Ukraine and helped them to build a much stronger, better equipped and better-trained force today than Ukraine had in 2014. “So, we continue to stand together condemning the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Our allies also stand together in sending a message that we will never accept the brutal violation of international order,” said Stoltenberg.

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