Putin’s gives chilling warning to the West in early morning TV broadcast
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine and gave a chilling warning to its allies in the West in an early Thursday morning address in Moscow.
Explosions were heard in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, as Putin announced that Russia was launching a military attack on Ukraine.
‘To anyone who would consider interfering from the outside – if you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history,’ he said on a television broadcast around 6am Moscow time.
The United Nations Security Council had just convened an emergency meeting Wednesday night when Putin took to Russian airwaves to announce the invasion at 5:50am Moscow time.
Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, had urged Putin to stop his tanks.
‘If indeed an operation is being prepared, I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart,’ said Guterres.
‘President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died.’
Putin ignored the plea, going on TV to describe the invasion as a ‘special military occupation’ and said he wants to ‘demilitarize’ and ‘de-Nazify’, not occupy, the country.
He told Ukrainian service members to ‘lay down their arms and go home,’ saying Russia could not exist with a ‘constant threat emanating from the territory of Ukraine’ and clashes between Russian and Ukrainian solders was ‘inevitable.’
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine and gave a chilling warning to its allies in the west in an early Thursday morning address
Tomorrow morning, President Joe Biden plans to meet with his G7 counterparts and will speak to the American people to announce the ‘further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia
President Joe Biden responded to Putin’s attack Wednesday night, saying: ‘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. 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,’ his statement continued.
Biden added that he would be monitoring the situation from the White House the remainder of the night and will be getting regular updates from his security team.
Tomorrow morning, the president plans to meet with his G7 counterparts and will 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.’
‘We will also coordinate with our NATO Allies to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the Alliance. Tonight, Jill and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine,’ he concluded his statement.
An explosion is seen in the early hours of Thursday in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv
Kharkiv, with a population of 1.4 million, appeared to be under attack in the early hours of Thursday
Unconfirmed reports said that Russian forces had destroyed or rendered unusable the Ukrainian navy, and taken control of Boryspil Airport in Kiev.
Access to the Black Sea and Azov Sea was cut off.
Unconfirmed reports on Twitter appeared to show a huge seaborne landing by Russian forces in the Black Sea port of Odessa, involving large landing craft and helicopters shortly before 6am local time.
Within minutes of Putin’s public address, explosions could be heard in the capital city of Kiev as well as the city of Kramatorsk in central Ukraine, and Odessa in the south.
Across Ukraine, cruise and ballistic missiles were destroying military infrastructure and strategically important facilities, according to unofficial Russian sources.
Mariupol, on the Black Sea 50 miles from the Russian border, appeared to be under fierce attack. Taking this strategic location would give the Donbas republics access to the sea.
The moment Ukraine and the rest of Europe had dreaded for months finally came shortly after 4.35am local time when huge explosions were heard in Kiev and other cities across the country.
Terrified citizens rushed to bomb shelters, though no air raid warnings sounded in the capital – only the frequent muffled crump of missile or air strikes breaking through the pre-dawn stillness.
Putin has recognised two areas in eastern Ukraine as independent and authorised Russian troops to go in on ‘peacekeeping’ missions. Rebels already hold part of that territory (in red) but Putin has recognised a much-wider region (yellow) amid fears he will now try to seize it. There are also fears he is preparing to attack Kharkiv in Ukraine (green) after massing forces nearby
Russian armored vehicles are loaded onto railway platforms at a railway station in the Rostov-on-Don region, not far from Russia-Ukraine border, on Wednesday
Footage shows smoke supposedly rising on the skyline after the blasts were heard near Mariupol, eastern Ukraine
In Kiev, people were sheltering in basements as the sounds of distant explosions became a constant backdrop.
Within an hour, Russians special force and airborne troops were reported to be on the ground at Kiev’s Boryspil Airport, amid fierce fighting.
A woman in the Ukrainian capital said: ‘I was woken by a friend.
‘I am in the center of Kiev.
‘I hear the sound of distant explosions and ambulance sirens.’
Explosions can also be heard from Ukraine in the Russian city of Belgorod.
Putin told Russians: ‘I have decided to conduct a special military operation. Russia cannot exist with a constant threat emanating from the territory of Ukraine.
‘You and I have been left with no opportunity to protect our people other than the one we use today.’
It comes after explosions were heard near the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, as fears mounted that shelling is underway.
Residents in the city, which is located in south eastern Ukraine, have been woken up at 3.30am this morning by blasts 30 miles from the Russian border.
Video footage appeared to show clouds of smoke rising up into the night sky near Mariupol, but it was unconfirmed whether it was as a result of shelling.
Putin earlier this week said he wanted to take the major Azov Sea Port of Mariupol, which handles 50 per cent Ukraine’s steel and mineral exports.
The British foreign secretary Liz Truss tweeted her condemnation of the attack just after 4am local time.
‘I strongly condemn the appalling, unprovoked attack President Putin has launched on the people of Ukraine,’ she said.
‘We stand with Ukraine and we will work with our international partners to respond to this terrible act of aggression.’
The explosions come just hours after the U.S. warned the Ukrainian government that Putin’s troops are ‘ready to go now’ with an invasion of Ukraine, with 80 per cent of Russian soldiers now assembled around the country in attack positions.
Russia on Wednesday afternoon issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) which closed the airspace along its northeastern border with Ukraine to all civilian air traffic.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed that the Ukrainian people will ‘fight back’
Ukraine later said early on Thursday it had restricted civilian flights in its airspace due to ‘potential hazard’.
Ukraine‘s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed that the Ukrainian people will ‘fight back’ if Putin threatens their freedom and lives by launching a full-scale invasion.
Zelenskyy made an emotional address to his nation after Moscow-backed rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine asked Putin for military assistance in fending off Ukrainian ‘aggression’.
‘The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,’ Zelenskyy said.
‘But if we come under attack, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs.’
The Ukrainian President said he had tried to call Putin this evening, but there was ‘no answer, only silence’, adding that Moscow now has around 200,000 soldiers by Ukraine’s borders.
The United Nations Security Council quickly scheduled an emergency meeting Wednesday night – the second in three days – at Ukraine’s request. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the separatists’ request ‘a further escalation of the security situation.’
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said that she had spoken to President Joe Biden minutes earlier, and he conveyed his firm support for Ukraine’s government.
‘A full scale invasion into Ukraine by Russia is imminent,’ said Thomas-Greenfield.
‘Tonight we are seeing Russia close airspace, move troops into Donbas.
‘We ask Russia to stop. Send your troops back to their barracks and your planes back to their ports. Send your diplomats.’
Footage shared on social media showed housing estates in Mariupol – 50 miles from the Russian border – booming with the sound of what some reports said was shelling.
In Mykolaiv, 400 miles to the east of Mariupol, residents reported sounds of fierce exchanges of gunfire.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken issued a further stark warning and said, hours before the invasion, that he believed Russia would invade before the night is over.
Russia has up to 190,000 troops backed by tanks, artillery, fighter jets and bombers surrounding Ukraine from three sides, as the US warns of a full-scale invasion of the whole country including an attack on the capital, Kiev
The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on Wednesday night
Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, urged Vladimir Putin to ‘give peace a chance’
Blinken was asked earlier on Wednesday by Lester Holt on NBC News on whether he thought there would be a full-scale invasion from Russia ‘before this night is over’.
Blinken replied: ‘I do. Unfortunately Russia has positioned its forces at the final point of readiness across Ukraine’s borders – to the north, the east, the south.
‘Everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine.’
Blinken added: ‘I can’t put a date or an exact time on it, but everything is in place for Russia to move forward.’
Zelensky said he had tried to contact Putin to discuss the situation, but Putin refused to take his call.
‘I initiated a telephone call with the president of the Russian federation. Result: silence,’ Zelensky said.
Zelensky said he wanted to address the Russian people – admitting that he knew the speech would not be shown in the country – but warning that the ‘spark’ for invasion could come at any time.
‘You are told that this flame will liberate the people of Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people are free.
‘You are told we are Nazis, but how can a people support Nazis that gave more than eight million lives for the victory over Nazism?’
Zelensky also rejected Moscow’s claim that Ukraine was a threat to Russia.
‘The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,’ Zelensky said, adding that a Russian invasion would cost tens of thousands of lives.
Zelensky added that there were now 200,000 Russian troops amassed near Ukraine’s borders.
Zelensky said that the people of Russia were being lied to about Ukraine and urged them to help stop a possible war.
‘Who can stop (the war)? People. These people are among you, I am sure,’ he said.
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