Stay updates: Russia invades Ukraine, explosions reported in a number of cities, additional sanctions anticipated
Earlier than the break of day, simply earlier than explosions started in cities throughout Ukraine, Russian state tv unexpectedly broadcast an handle by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The 2 self-proclaimed “individuals’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk, within the breakaway Ukrainian area of Donbas, which he had formally acknowledged as impartial lower than two days earlier than, had “turned to Russia with a request for assist,” he stated. To reply that decision he was launching a “particular navy operation.” Its function: to “demilitarize” and “denazifiy” Ukraine.
Inside minutes, Russian missiles started hitting targets in Ukraine. “Our actions are self-defense in opposition to threats,” he instructed his fellow Russians, claiming Moscow had no plans to occupy Ukraine. “We don’t plan to impose ourselves on anybody,” he insisted.
Putin described the “particular navy operation” in restricted phrases, to guard individuals dwelling in Donbas who, he claimed, had been subjected to “genocide,” a cost that Ukraine has strenuously denied. However within the subsequent breath, he lashed out extra broadly: “NATO helps Ukrainian neo-Nazis … our actions are self-defense in opposition to threats.”
Then, in a unprecedented passage, he spoke on to members of Ukraine’s navy, at that very second within the crosshairs of the Russian navy. Addressing them as “pricey comrades,” he instructed them they’d taken an “oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian individuals, and to not the anti-people junta that’s robbing Ukraine and abuses those self same individuals.”
“Do not comply with its legal orders!” he demanded. “I urge you to put down your weapons and go dwelling.”
As he has completed so many occasions earlier than, Putin claimed Russia had no selection however to defend itself. With a hard-edged tone in his voice, he appeared to threaten the US, Europe and NATO which, in just some minutes, would witness his armed forces opening hearth on Ukraine, one thing the Kremlin had constantly dismissed as western “hysterics.”
“Whoever tries to intervene with us, and much more so, to create threats for our nation, for our individuals, ought to know that Russia’s response will likely be quick and can lead you to such penalties that you’ve by no means skilled in your historical past.
“We’re prepared for any growth of occasions. All crucial choices on this regard have been made.”
Putin, who for years had criticized the West for ignoring his complaints about NATO’s growth towards Russia’s borders, was lastly placing again with fury. “I hope,” he concluded his quick handle, “that I’ve been heard.”