BREAKING: Putin Orders Military Operations In Eastern Ukraine As UN Meets.
Russian state media said that Vladimir Putin has authorized a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine, as the UN Security Council gathered for its second emergency meeting this week to urge a de-escalation and return to dialogue.
President Vladimir Putin was quoted in Russian media as stating he had granted his consent to a “special military operation” in Ukraine’s Donbas area, where Moscow had previously recognized rebel-held regions in Luhansk and Donetsk and stated they had called for “assistance.” He went on to say that clashes between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers were only a matter of time.
The capital was rocked by explosions, and power had been interrupted. He described it as a “full-scale onslaught” that targeted the airport and other important structures.
There were also explosions in Donetsk, a separatist city in eastern Ukraine, and civilian planes were urged to stay away, while naval landings were reported in Odessa.
“Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote in Twitter.
“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.”
The Interior Ministry said cruise missiles had been used.
UN chief Antonio Guterres condemned Russia’s actions in an impassioned appeal.
“In the name of humanity bring your troops back to Russia,” he said.
“In the name of humanity, do not allow a war to start in Europe which could be worst war since the beginning of the century with consequences not only devastating for Ukraine, not only tragic for the Russian Federation but with an impact cannot even foresee.”
Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya, who is the current president of the Security Council, admitted that “special operations” were underway, insisting to the other ambassadors that the action did not amount to war and was the result of Ukraine’s actions.
“The aim of the operation is to protect the people who for eight years have been suffering “genocide” of the Ukrainian regime,” he said, claiming the action was justified under Article 51 of the UN Charter (the article allows for individual or collective self-defence in the face of an armed attack on a UN member state).
Putin demanded Ukrainian forces lay down their arms, and repeated his position that any Ukrainian membership of NATO was unacceptable to Moscow.
The Ukraine ambassador appeared lost for words: “Three minutes ago, your president declared war on my country,” he said to Nebenzya.
In a second round of comments he concluded: “There’s no purgatory for war criminals, Mr Ambassador, they go to hell”.
The US said it was calling for an urgent resolution and was backed by the UK, France and Ireland who noted Russia’s utter “disdain” for the United Nations by its military assault.
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The Russian action came almost at the same time as Linda Thomas-Green, the United States ambassador to the UN, told the council that the US was concerned a “full-scale” invasion of Ukraine by Russia was imminent.
“Tonight, we’re seeing the Russians close airspace, move troops into Donbas, and move forces into combat-ready positions,” she said.
“This is a perilous moment and we are here for one reason and one reason only – to ask Russia to stop.”