Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a limited invasion of Ukraine, attacking Ukrainian military bases and installations and claiming to have destroyed Ukraine’s air defense capability in a few hours over night.

Putin, who announced a special military operation, stated that he ordered the attack in response to the sanctions and Ukrainian aggression in the Donbas region. In a video announcement by Putin himself, he said that “I have made the decision of a military operation. Whoever tries to interfere with us and even more so to create threats for our country, our people should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences that you have never experienced in your history,” said the President.

He accused Ukraine and its leaders of being ‘neo-Nazis,’ telling the Ukrainian Armed Forces to not resist and lay down their weapons, and go home.

Putin claimed the attack was necessary to protect the citizens and civilians located in the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk regions as Ukraine was allegedly attacking them; a charge denied by Ukraine and supported by a total lack of evidence that Ukraine has taken any aggressive action in the disputed regions. Putin added that the attack was retaliation against the US for refusing to bow to Russia’s demands ity be given a guarantee that Ukraine would never be admitted into NATO.

Following the video announcement made at about 5 am Ukrainian time, the Russian military launched missile and artillery strikes on, Ukrainian military targets with the explosions being heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa. Russian-backed separatists in Donbas had allegedly staged another attack on the Ukrainian town of Shchastia, with loud explosions also being heard in Mariupol. An estimated 170,000 to 200,000 troops stationed at the Ukrainian border are slowly being mobilized along with the bombings to take control and destroy military installations in Ukraine. Amidst these attacks, the Kremlin had stated that it had no intentions of occupying the Ukrainian mainland and they were just ‘demilitarizing’ it to bring so-called Ukrainian criminals to ‘justice.’  Targets also included bridges across rivers and streams in an apparent attempt to prevent Ukraine military units from reaching Donbas.

“Russia cannot feel safe, develop, and exist with a constant threat emanating from the territory of modern Ukraine,” the Russian leader said. “All responsibility for bloodshed will be on the conscience of the ruling regime in Ukraine.”

Just 40 minutes before the attack, an emergency UNSC meeting had been taking place in order to arrive at a solution to the crisis diplomatically. Ukraine’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya was caught off guard when he discovered that Ukraine was now under attack. He called on Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya to step down from his position as head of the UN Security Council.

“I was intending to ask the Russian ambassador to confirm on the record that the Russian troops will not start firing at Ukrainians today and go ahead with the offensive,” Kyslytsya said. “It became useless 48 minutes ago because about 48 minutes ago, your president declared war on Ukraine,” said Kyslytsya.

He dared Nebenzya to say on the record that Russia will not bomb or shell Ukrainian cities and to call Russian Foreign Minister SergeÄ­ Viktorovich Lavrov to confer. He was met with silence from the Russian UN representative. “There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, Ambassador,” said the Ukrainian Ambassador directly to Nebenzya.

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also made a last-minute plea to Putin. “President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia,” Guterres said, speaking after an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Ukraine.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the attack as ‘a full-scale invasion’ of Ukraine, with numerous Ukrainian cities being bombed and succumbing to Russian strikes, tweeting that “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.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in response to the missile strikes and the overall attack, has declared martial law in the country while urging Ukrainians not to panic amidst the military strikes.  He reached out to US President Joe Biden for support against the unjustified attack.

The White House had confirmed that a phone call between Zelensky and Biden had taken place before midnight ET, with Zelensky urging Biden to call on the leaders of the world to speak out against the Russian aggression and to stand with the people of Ukraine. Biden had also been briefed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Furthermore, President Biden stated that it will hold Russia responsible for all deaths and destruction brought forth by the attacks and that the United States, together with NATO and the leaders of the G7, will be responding in a ‘united and decisive way.’

“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable,” said the President in a White House statement.

In a last-ditch effort to save Ukraine from a war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called Russian President Vladimir Putin to no avail. Switching from Ukrainian to Russian during the emotional appeal to Russians to not attack Ukraine, he stated that only the people could stop the war, and these people are Russian citizens.

“We know for sure that we don’t need the war. Not a Cold War, not a hot war. Not a hybrid one. If they [Russia] attack, if they try to take our county—our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children—we will be defending ourselves. Not attack, but defend ourselves.” Zelensky emotionally stated. As you attack, it will be our faces you see, not our backs,” he boldly announced.

Currently, Ukrainian citizens are now evacuating several major cities, including Kyiv, moving toward the West to be near NATO-allied Poland in case the Russian troops decide to take over the cities. Ukrainians have also taken shelter in their underground metro stations to steer clear of bombs and missiles.

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