MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”
He said the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine — a claim the U.S. had predicted he would falsely make to justify an invasion.
In a televised address, Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees. He said Russia doesn't intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarize” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice.
As Putin spoke before dawn, big explosions were heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa and other cities across Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden in a written statement condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack” on Ukraine and he promised that the U.S. and its allies “will hold Russia accountable.” Biden said he planned to speak to Americans on Thursday after a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders. More sanctions against Russia were expected to be announced Thursday.