KYIV, Ukraine (Fwrd Axis) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine, marking what seems to be the beginning of a war with the country.
Speaking in a televised address at 6 a.m. Moscow time, Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and said he was launching military action to protect civilians. He claimed the responsibility for the bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian “regime” and warned those who interfere will be met with consequences.
“A couple of words for those who would be tempted to intervene. Russia will respond immediately and you will have consequences that you never have had before in your history,” he said.
#BREAKING: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in #Ukraine, marking what seems to be the beginning of a war with the country. #UkraineCrisis https://t.co/RTmtSGJBC8
— FWRD AXIS News (@FwrdAxis) February 24, 2022
“Our politics is about freedom,” Putin added. “We think it’s important that everyone can choose freely who lives in the Ukrainian territories.”
Multiple explosions were heard throughout numerous cities in Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv.
Russian state media announced late Wednesday that Donetsk and Luhansk — two breakaway regions in Eastern Ukraine — asked Putin for military assistance to help defend against Ukrainian “aggression”.
President Joe Biden released a statement late Wednesday, saying he would address the nation on Thursday but offered his prayers to the country of Ukraine.
“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable,” he said.
Biden said he would be speaking to his G7 counterparts on Thursday and will then address the American people in the afternoon “to announce the further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia.”
“Tonight, Jill and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine,” Biden said.
Zelensky issues statement
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a statement early Thursday morning to the people of Ukraine, informing the citizens that the government will fight against Putin and the military action he launched against the country.
“Dear citizens of Ukraine! This morning President Putin announced a special military operation in Donbas. Russia performed strikes on our military infrastructure and our border guard units. In many cities of Ukraine, people heard the blasts. A minute ago I spoke to President Biden. The USA has started to unite international support. Today we need each of you to stay calm. If you can, stay at home. We are working. The army is working. The whole security and defense sector of Ukraine is working.”
“I’ll be constantly in touch with you, as well as the National Security & Defence Council, the Cabinet of Ukraine. Soon I’ll be in touch again. No panic. We are strong. We are ready for everything. We will overcome everyone because we are Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine!”
Biden speaks to Zelensky
Biden spoke by phone to Zelensky early Thursday morning, the White House confirmed.
“President Zelenskyy reached out to me tonight and we just finished speaking. I condemned this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces,” Biden said in a statement. “I briefed him on the steps we are taking to rally international condemnation, including tonight at the United Nations Security Council. He asked me to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against President Putin’s flagrant aggression, and to stand with the people of Ukraine.”
State Department issues warning to U.S. citizens in Ukraine
The U.S. Department of State issued a warning to all American citizens in Ukraine, warning them to seek cover and shelter in place. The department added the United States would not be able to evacuate citizens from Ukraine.
“Further Russian military action can occur at any time without warning. U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” the memo said.
“Know the location of your closest shelter or protected space. In the event of mortar and/or rocket fire, follow the instructions from local authorities and seek shelter immediately,” the alert said. “If you feel that your current location is no longer safe, you should carefully assess the potential risks involved in moving to a different location.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated with more information.