On Thursday (Feb 24), Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a “military operation” in Ukraine and called on soldiers to lay down their guns, ignoring Western indignation and worldwide calls not to start a war.
Putin made a surprise announcement on television about his intentions.
“I have decided to launch a military action,” Putin announced soon before 6 a.m. in Moscow, threatening punishment against anybody who interfered. He went on to condemn what he called Ukraine’s “genocide” in the country’s east, as well as NATO’s aggressive posture toward Russia.
“We will endeavour to accomplish demilitarisation and de-Nazification of Ukraine,” Putin added, pledging to bring “to court those who have committed countless crimes, responsible for the murder of people, including Russian nationals.”
The Russian president addressed the Ukrainian military, urging them to “laid down your guns” before assuring them that they will be able to “leave the battlefield without impediment.”
He stated that he does not want Ukraine “occupied,” but rather “demilitarised.”
Putin then addressed anyone “who would try to meddle with us… they must understand that Russia’s retaliation would be quick and will result in repercussions you have never encountered before.”
“I am certain that Russian soldiers and commanders will carry out their duties with courage,” he added, adding that “the country’s security is secured.”
“The current dictatorship in Ukraine will bear full responsibility for the killings.”
The Russian Putin did not describe the scale of the military action, nor did he say if it would be restricted to eastern Ukraine.
Putin’s remarks came after the US reported Russia had stationed about 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, and after Russian-backed rebels asked him for military assistance against what they called escalating Ukrainian aggression.
Kyiv has categorically refuted any such action.