Putin announces military operation in Ukraine; explosions heard in Capital Kyiv
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine, claiming it's intended to protect civilians
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine, claiming it's intended to protect civilians.
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 demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees.
He said the Russian military operation aims to ensure a demilitarisation of Ukraine. Putin said that all Ukrainian servicemen who lay down arms will be able to safely leave the zone of combat.
Quoting the Russian state news agency TASS, Xinhua news agency reported that the operation has begun.
"We are hearing reports - some unconfirmed - of explosions in other parts of the Ukraine. Loud bangs in the capital Kyiv as well as Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region," BBC news reported.
But there have also been reports on social media of explosions in Ukraine's Kharkiv in the north-east, Odesa in the south, and the eastern Donetsk Oblast area.
Reports also said that Putin has urged the Ukrainian soldiers in eastern Ukraine to lay down weapons and return to their homes.
There was no immediate reaction from the White House to Putin's remarks, but US officials have repeatedly pledged to place overwhelming sanctions on the Russian economy and Putin allies in retaliation for a further invasion of Ukraine.
(With agency inputs)