"Circumstances force us to take decisive and immediate action. The Donbas People's Republics have appealed to Russia for help,” Putin noted.
He claimed it was for the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine. “We do not intend to occupy Ukraine,” Putin added.
- According to the Ukrainian media, within minutes of Putin’s short TV address, at about 5am Ukrainian time, blasts were heard near major Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv.
Ukraine’s interior ministry reported that the country was under attack from cruise and ballistic missiles, with Russia appearing to target infrastructure near major cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Dnipro. Kyiv residents reportedly sought safety in bomb shelters as explosions were heard outside the city.
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Ukrainian people Thursday morning, and announced the declaration of martial law in Ukraine. He has already convened a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council.
Zelenskyy called on Russian citizens to listen to Ukraine, its desire for peace and assured that Ukraine has never posed and will not pose a threat to Russia.
He added that he tried to contact Putin, but all in vain.
- Meanwhile, the Russian MFA announced the suppression of air defense systems of Ukraine.
However, both sides now are issuing contradicting statements.
The Ukrainian media has already reported they had shot down 5 Russian planes and one helicopter, while Russia denies all the reports.
- World leaders condemned Putin’s decision.
The US President Joe Biden issued a written statement 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.
“We will hold the Kremlin accountable,” wrote Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the EU Commission, which had announced new sanctions against Moscow just hours before the attack.
And UK PM Boris Johnson noted that “Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine.”