Russia’s Putin announces military operation in Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine, claiming it’s intended to protect civilians.

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In a televised address, Putin said the action comes in response to threats coming from Ukraine. He added that Russia doesn’t have a goal to occupy Ukraine. Putin said the responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian “regime.”

Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen.”

He accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to stop Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees. He said the Russian military operation aims to ensure a “demilitarization” of Ukraine.

Putin said all Ukrainian servicemen who lay down arms will be able to safely leave the zone of combat.

Explosions rang out before dawn Thursday in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and several cities near the frontline and along the country’s coast, after the announcement.

Russia is attacking Ukraine’s military infrastructure with high-precision weapons, the RIA news agency reported citing the Russian defense ministry.

The United States and its allies will respond in a united and decisive way to “an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces” on Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

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