Russian President Vladimir Putin today announced a military operation in Ukraine to defend separatists in the east of the country. “I have made the decision of a military operation to protect the people of the Donbas separatist region,” he said in a surprise statement on television.
Putin appealed to Ukrainian soldiers to lay down their arms and go home. Explosions were heard before dawn Thursday in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and the eastern port city of Mariupol, shortly after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced an operation to “demilitarise” the country.
Ukraine’s ambassador at the United Nations has told the Security Council that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “declared war on Ukraine”. He also pressed his Russian counterpart to state that Russia will not shell and bomb Ukrainian cities.
President Joe Biden called the move “an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces” and said the “world will hold Russia accountable.”
The move came even members of the United Nations Security Council urged Putin not to escalate, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres making made a rare direct plea to Putin. “I have only one thing to say, from the bottom of my heart: President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine,” Guterres said. “Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died.”
Brent oil surged to $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014 as Russia’s dramatic escalation of the Ukraine crisis sparked fears of a disruption to the region’s critical energy exports. Russia is the world’s second-largest oil producer, which mainly sells crude to European refineries, and is the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe, providing about 35% of its supply.
The Indian equity indices plunged sharply. As of 9:19 am, the benchmark BSE Sensex tanked 1,458 points or 2.55 per cent to 55,774; while the broader NSE Nifty moved 416 points or 2.43 per cent down to 16,646.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday Japan will work with G7 members and the international community on Ukraine issues, but that they are still in the process of gathering information.”
I strongly condemn Russia’s reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives. Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.
The U.S. and its allies have for weeks warned of the potential for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, estimating Putin had massed 150,000 troops on the border.
Earlier, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an address to the nation that any Russian move to aid separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine could cause an escalation in tensions. Ukraine poses no threat to Russia but will defend itself if attacked, Zelenskiy said in his speech. He said Putin didn’t respond to a request to talk by phone on Wednesday.