MOSCOW (AP) – Russian troops launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine yesterday, as President Vladimir Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions, warning other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen”.
Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of a Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy introduced martial law, saying Russia has targetted Ukraine’s military infrastructure and explosions are heard across the country.
Zelenskyy said he had just talked to United States (US) President Joe Biden and the US was rallying international support for Ukraine. He urged Ukrainians to stay home and not
Biden pledged new sanctions meant to punish Russia for an act of aggression that the international community had for weeks anticipated but could not prevent through diplomacy.
Putin justified it all in a televised address, asserting the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine – a false claim the US had predicted he would make as a pretext for an invasion. He accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees, and credulously claimed that Russia doesn’t intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarise” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice.
Biden in a written statement condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack” on Ukraine and he promised the US and its allies “will hold Russia accountable”.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the action as a “full-scale invasion of Ukraine” and a “war of aggression”, adding, “Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now”.
The Russian military said it has struck Ukrainian air bases and other military assets and hasn’t targetted populated areas. The Russian Defence Ministry statement said the military is using precision weapons to target Ukrainian air bases, air defence assets and other military infrastructure. It claimed that “there is no threat to civilian population”.