Russia-Ukraine Crises: Putin announces military operation

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a military operation in Ukraine, and he is warning other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen.” As Putin spoke, big explosions were heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv and other areas of Ukraine.

The move comes close on the heels of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement that Russia will invade Ukraine within hours. Russia had earlier said that separatists had asked Kremlin for help to repel Ukranian “aggression”, and as explosions rocked the breakaway eastern city of Donetsk.

For days now, the Russia-Ukraine borders have seen large deployments of Russian military columns. The shelling had intensified in the east of Ukraine Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognised two separatist regions as independent and ordered the deployment of what he called peacekeepers, a move the West calls the start of an invasion.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky had made an emotional appeal late on Wednesday night to Russians not to support a “major war in Europe”.

Speaking Russian, Zelensky said that the people of Russia were being lied to about Ukraine.

Zelensky said he had tried to call Putin but there was “no answer, only silence”, adding that Moscow now had around 200,000 soldiers near Ukraine’s borders.

Earlier on Wednesday the separatist leaders of Donetsk and Lugansk sent separate letters to Putin, asking him to “help them repel Ukraine’s aggression”, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

High cost of war

But Ukraine has received advanced anti-tank weapons and some drones from NATO members. More have been promised as the allies try to deter a Russian attack or at least make it costly.

Shelling had intensified in recent days between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists — a Ukrainian soldier was killed on Wednesday, the sixth in four days — and civilians living near the front were fearful.

Dmitry Maksimenko, a 27-year-old coal miner from government-held Krasnogorivka, told AFP that he was shocked when his wife came to tell him that Putin had recognised the two Russian-backed separatist enclaves.

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