The “operation” will be aimed at “the defense of” the Russia-recognised republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, Russian President Vladimir Putin said om Thursday.
He said the leaders of the breakaway regions of Ukraine, who are not recognised by the UN and the rest of the world, asked Russia for help to stop Ukraine’s ‘aggression’.
President Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy of Ukraine said Putin refuses to pick his calls to negotiate for peace.
But Russia says Putin is following international law to ‘liberate’ the regions in questions following decades of Ukraine’s refusal to negotiate.
“Circumstances require us to take decisive and immediate action,” Putin said during his address.
“The People’s Republics of Donbass turned to Russia with a request for help. In this regard, in accordance with Article 51, part 7 of the UN Charter, with the sanction of the Federation Council and in pursuance of the friendship treaties ratified by the Federal Assembly and mutual assistance with the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, I have decided to conduct a special military operation,” Putin concludes.
He said that he wanted to “demilitarise” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine. According to him, “we have no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory.”
“Your fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers did not fight defending our common homeland for today’s neo-Nazis to seize power,” he said.
“All responsibility for the bloodshed will be on the conscience of the ruling regime of Ukraine.”
Within moments of the speech, a series of explosions were reported in cities across Ukraine, with CNN, CBC and a number of Ukrainian media outlets reporting to hear a blast in the capital, Kiev.
In a statement, US President Joe Biden said that “the prayers of the world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by the Russian military forces.”
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres has urged Russia and Putin to give peace a chance.
“Tonight, I have only one thing to say, from the bottom of my heart: President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died.”
Eastern European NATO members, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Estonia, have now signaled intentions to invoke Article 4, which means urgent consultations on military plans for the alliance “whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.”