As President Vladimir Putin underestimated international sanctions and condemnation, Russian troops launched a much-anticipated offensive against Ukraine, and warned other countries that any attempt to intervene would have “unintended consequences.”
Large explosions were heard in the early hours of the morning in Kiev, Kharkiv and Odessa, and world leaders condemned the start of the Russian invasion, which could cause major casualties and overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky announced martial law, saying Russia had attacked Ukrainian military infrastructure and heard explosions in various parts of the country. Zhelensky said he had spoken with US President Joe Biden and that Washington was trumpeting international support for Ukraine. He urged the Ukrainians to stay home without panicking.
Biden promised new sanctions to punish Russia for the aggression the international community had been waiting for weeks, but could not prevent through diplomacy.
In a televised speech, Putin said the attack was necessary to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine, predicting that the United States would use it to justify an invasion.
The Russian president has accused the United States and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and to provide Moscow with security guarantees. He added that Russia had no intention of invading Ukraine.
Biden lamented the “unprovoked and unnecessary” attack on Ukraine and promised in a written statement that the world would “hold Russia accountable.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba described the move as a “full-scale invasion of Ukraine” and a “war of aggression.” “Ukraine will defend itself and win. The world can and should stop Putin. It is time to act, “said Tariq al-Hashimi, the party’s secretary general.
The Russian military says it has targeted Ukrainian air bases and other military property, not residential areas. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the military used precision weapons to attack Ukrainian air bases, anti-aircraft defense assets and other military infrastructure. He said there was no threat to the public.
The Russian military fired missiles at Ukrainian military command centers, air bases and military depots in Kiev, Kharkiv and Dinifro, Anton Jerashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said on Facebook.
After the initial explosions in Kiev, people could be heard screaming in the streets. But then normalcy returned, cars passed by and the morning journey began relatively quietly as people walked down the street.
Furthermore, the consequences of the conflict against Russia and sanctions against Russia could reverberate around the world, affecting energy supplies in Europe, shaking financial markets around the world and endangering the balance established on the continent after the Cold War.
Markets in Asia fell and oil prices soared after the start of the military operation. Following the Kremlin’s claim that rebels in eastern Ukraine had sought military assistance, the Wall Street benchmark S&P 500 fell 1.8% to an eight-month low.
In anticipation of international condemnation and counter-measures, Putin warned other countries not to interfere. “If those who create threats to our country and its people try to stop us, we need to know that the Russian response will be immediate and they will lead to unprecedented consequences in history.”
He called on the Ukrainian soldiers to “lay down their arms immediately and go home.”
The president announced the military operation after the Kremlin said that rebels in eastern Ukraine had asked Russia for military assistance to thwart the Ukrainian “occupation”. The announcement immediately sparked fears that Moscow would justify launching a war, as Western nations had warned.
In a stern reminder of Russia’s nuclear program, Putin warned that “there is no doubt that a direct attack on our country will have devastating consequences for any person who is an aggressor.” He stressed that Russia is “one of the strongest nuclear powers and has a significant advantage in the range of sophisticated weapons”.
Despite the US announcement on Monday that it would mobilize troops in the Baltic, Biden has said it will not send troops to fight Russia.
Within hours, Putin released his message and made a final call for peace, dismissing Moscow’s claims that the Ukrainian president was a threat to Russia.
“The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,” Zhelensky said in an emotional speech to the nation in Russian. “But if they attack us, if they try to rob us of our country, our freedom, our lives and the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. When they attack us, they look at our face, not at our back.
Zhelensky said he had asked Putin to set up a call Wednesday night, but had not received any response from the Kremlin.
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