By John Ikani
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will conduct “a special military operation” to “demilitarize” Ukraine, de facto declaring a war on Ukraine.
Putin announced the operation in a live televised speech that aired before 6 a.m. local time, threatening countries that attempt to interfere with “consequences they have never seen.”
According to him NATO was threatening the existence of Russia and that to protect it, he is sending Russian military into Ukraine.
Immediately following the speech, explosions were reported in the capital city Kyiv, Kramatorsk, Kharkiv, Odessa and Mariupol. It wasn’t immediately clear what the targets were.
Ukrainian airspace was closed to civilian aircraft as the region was considered an active conflict zone. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency issued an alert saying there is a risk of “both intentional targeting and misidentification” of civilian aircraft.
The declaration comes days after Russia recognized its enclaves in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast and Donetsk Oblast as independent states on Feb. 21. Russia has been occupying territories in eastern Ukraine and the peninsula of Crimea since 2014.
Following the “recognition,” the Kremlin-installed leaders of the occupied areas of eastern Ukraine requested that Russia provides military protection from the supposed attack of the Ukrainian army, of which there has been no evidence.
Reacting, Ukraine imposed martial law Wednesday night as Russian forces launched offenses across the country. A nationwide state of emergency had been in effect, giving officials extra powers to impose restrictions. Under martial law, military leaders are the absolute authorities of Ukraine’s civilians.
Putin said the Kremlin has no intention of occupying the country, placing blame for any potential bloodshed on the Ukrainian “regime.”
International intelligence has long expected the Russian leader to use “false flag” operations to justify its aggression against Ukraine.
Putin had directly addressed Ukraine forces in his remarks, urging them to lay down their arms, according to a translation.
President Joe Biden released a statement shortly after military action began, calling the aggression “an unprovoked and unjustified attack” by Russia, vowing that the world will hold Russia and President Vladimir Putin accountable.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said in a statement after Putin announced military action against Ukraine.
Biden said he will address the nation on Thursday to announce additional steps the U.S. will take beyond sanctions already imposed.