Minutes after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a “special military operation” in Ukraine, journalists in the country’s northeast said they heard a “steady stream of powerful explosions” on Thursday local time. Journalists near Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, as well as the capitals of Kyiv and Kramatorsk, reported explosions.
Putin said the goal of the military operation was to demilitarize Ukraine, not to occupy it. “To this end, we will seek the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, as well as the trial of those who have committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation,” Putin said in a statement.
U.S. President Joe Biden said late Wednesday that the U.S. and partners would respond “strongly” and “bring Russia to justice.”
“President Putin has chosen a deliberate war that will bring catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said in a statement. “Only Russia is responsible for the deaths and destruction that this attack will bring.”
Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday accused Russia of holding Ukraine hostage and asked Russia to avoid war, saying it would have “devastating humanitarian consequences” that would cost the lives of both sides.
“For several months, Russia has been holding a gun to Ukraine’s head. Now President Putin’s finger on the trigger,” British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said during a special session of the UN Security Council on Wednesday night. “The world is calling for peace, but Russia is not listening.”
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a televised call for last-minute peace to prevent war in Eastern Europe.
“The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,” Zelensky said in an emotional address. “But if we are attacked, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. If you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs,” he said. he. “
The invasion came after weeks of rising tensions as diplomatic efforts to defuse the conflict failed. Ukraine is surrounded by more than 150,000 Russian troops.
On Tuesday, the European Union agreed to a package of sanctions against Russia, targeting banks that finance the country’s military operations, and banning trade between the EU and the two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. Germany too stopped the approval of Nord Stream-2.a key gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.
The Pentagon has sent 8,500 U.S. troops high readiness to bolster NATO’s response force, and Biden reiterated on Tuesday that the U.S. would provide defense assistance to Ukraine and strengthen its NATO allies.
The conflict has already had global economic consequences, p the price of oil approached $ 100 a barrel on Wednesday.
On February 18, U.S. officials also said they believed Russia was responsible cyber attacks against Ukrainian banks and the military earlier this month. They were the last in Fr. a series of digital invasions for which Russia is accused, including attacks that have ruined government websites and destroyed malware on Ukrainian computer networks.
In December, the United States and NATO rejected a proposal by Russia calling for a “Cold War-like security agreement.” The New York Timesincluding requirements “iron“Ensures that Ukraine and Georgia will never become members of NATO. The adoption of any of the countries will increase the presence of a military alliance along the border with Russia.
Earlier in January, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman repulsed Russia’s demandsstating that the United States “will not allow anyone to close NATO’s open door policy.”
Russia attacked Ukraine, which was part of the Soviet Union before independence in 1991. back in 2014 before the annexation of Crimea. Russia also supports separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, two regions in eastern Ukraine that Russia now recognizes as independent. Approximately It is reported that 14,000 people died in the protracted conflicts in eastern Ukraine.