Russian President Vladimir Putin essentially declared war on Ukraine in a chilling speech broadcast just before 10 p.m. eastern time Wednesday, saying, “I have declared a special military operation.” Minutes later, dozens of explosions hit cities throughout Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, and the port city of Odessa. Following the explosions, which an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister characterized as missile strikes, according to CNN, fires burned in the eastern city of Kharkiv. Speculation arose that the explosions could have been targeted near airports. It became clear that Russia had launched a full-scale invasion on Ukraine.
Cruise and ballistic missile strikes hit the military control centers in Kyiv, Ukraine’s command said, according to the Guardian. Meanwhile, Russian troops landed in Odessa in an amphibious attack, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry told NBC. The same adviser said that Russian troops were crossing the border into Kharkiv. Ukrainian officials told CNN said that casualties were in the hundreds.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio explained that Russian forces were attempting to take control of the airport in Kyiv so “they can fly in forces to occupy the capital city.” He said an amphibious assault was being conducted on the port city of Mariupol and that the ground forces were “moving in” from Belarus, Crimea, and Russia.
Earlier this month, U.S. officials warned that a full-scale Russian invasion could kill or wound 50,000 Ukrainian citizens and decapitate the government in Kyiv within two days.
Thursday morning in Kyiv, air raid sirens rang out in the city.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ukrainians to be calm, saying, “Stay calm, stay at home, the army is doing its work,” according to London’s Globe and Mail. He declared martial law and also spoke to President Joe Biden.
Biden chose not to speak Wednesday night despite the invasion of a nation of 44 million people in Europe, instead saying he would be praying for Ukraine. “I will be monitoring the situation from the White House this evening and will continue to get regular updates from my national security team,” his statement read. The White House said he would instead speak Thursday at noon. “Tonight,” he said, “Jill and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said. Additional sanctions were expected to be announced Thursday.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said: “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes. This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.N. told the Russian ambassador at the U.N. Security Council meeting: “There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, ambassador.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “I strongly condemn Russia’s reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives.… Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country.”
In his speech, Putin said that foreign countries that intervened in the conflict would “witness consequences they have not seen before.” He said that the purpose of the military operation was to “demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine.” Putin claimed Russia did not plan to occupy Ukraine. He appeared to be wearing the same outfit he wore when giving the speech he appeared in on Monday. Russia’s Ekho Moskvi Radio said that the video’s metadata showed the video was recorded Monday, according to Fox News.
U.S. officials reacted with united outrage and horror.
“Putin’s Ukraine invasion is the first time in 80 years that a great power has moved to conquer a sovereign nation,” said Sen. Mitt Romney. “It is without justification, without provocation and without honor.”
The invasion showed that U.S. intelligence predicting such an invasion had been entirely accurate. Unfortunately, having and releasing the intelligence did not deter Russia from carrying out its plans.
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