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Russian President Vladimir Putin announces military assault against Ukraine in surprise speech

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2/24/2022 insider@insider.com (John Haltiwanger)
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into eastern Ukraine on Monday. Alexei Nikolsky/Associated Press © Alexei Nikolsky/Associated Press Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into eastern Ukraine on Monday. Alexei Nikolsky/Associated Press
  • Putin announced Russia forces were launching an offensive against Ukraine in a video that aired early on Thursday morning in Russia.
  • There were reports of explosions shortly after the announcement was made, including in Kyiv.
  • "Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life," Biden said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military offensive against Ukraine in a video that aired early on Thursday morning in Russia.

Putin said Russia had decided to launch a "special military action" against Ukraine, with reports of explosions and flares coming minutes afterwards in Ukraine — including in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. The state-run Russian RIA news agency said the offensive would begin in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine, also claiming that Putin does not have plans to occupy Ukraine.

With the speech, Russia effectively declared war on Ukraine and launched attacks. Putin warned that if other countries attempted to intervene they would face "consequences they have never seen," per the Associated Press. Putin said Russia was pursuing the "demilitarization" of Ukraine, and called on Ukrainian forces to "immediately put down arms and go home."

The US president minutes later condemned the Russian assault in the strongest terms.

"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," President Joe Biden said in a statement. "The world will hold Russia accountable." 


Video: Russia attacks Ukraine, 'shattering' European peace (Associated Press)

Biden said he would be monitoring the situation from the White House.

The Russian president made outlandish claims as he announced the military operation, including that "genocide" had occurred while comparing Ukraine to Nazi Germany. 

"The goal is to defend people who have been victims of abuse and genocide from the Kyiv regime. And we will strive to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine," Putin said, according to a translation from Max Seddon, the Moscow bureau chief at Financial Times. "We will also hand over everyone who committed bloody crimes against civilians, including Russian citizens, to court."

The Russian president's incendiary announcement came as the United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting over the Ukraine crisis. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres implored Putin not to go to war. "If indeed an operation is being prepared, I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart," Guterres said. "President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died."

The Kremlin for months denied plans to invade Ukraine, even as Russia amassed tens of thousands of troops along the border. 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began Monday has sent shockwaves through Europe and the wider world, while threatening to destabilize the surrounding region and rock global markets. 

Russia also invaded Ukraine in 2014, annexing Crimea in the process. And since that year, Russia has supported rebels in a war in the eastern Donbas region that's claimed over 13,000 lives. 

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