Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
In a televised address, he urged Ukrainian soldiers who are facing off Russian-backed rebels to lay down weapons and return to their homes.
Mr Putin said Russia did not plan to occupy Ukraine, but warned that Moscow’s response would be “instant” if anyone tries to take on Russia.
Ukraine said that “Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine”.
In a tweet, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote: “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.”
Ukraine’s Western allies had earlier warned Russia was poised to invade.
Reports are now coming of explosions in several Ukrainian cities, and gunfire near main Boryspil airport in the capital Kyiv.
US President Joe Biden said Washington and its allies would respond in a united and decisive way to “an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces” on Ukraine.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Mr Biden said. “The world will hold Russia accountable.”
In a last-ditch attempt to avert war shortly before Mr Putin’s announcement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia could start “a major war in Europe” and urged Russian citizens to oppose it.
troops and thousands of combat vehicles on Ukraine’s borders.
Russia is launching its military operation just days after recognising the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
The breakaway regions – who control large swathes of the Donbas region – later asked Moscow for military support.
In his announcement, Mr Putin said the military operation’s objective was to defend those people who had been subjected for eight years to “genocide by the Kyiv regime”.
It was an apparent reference to mass street protests in Ukraine that ousted Pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
Mr Putin also said that Moscow would seek “demilitarisation and denazification” of Ukraine.
Kyiv and its Western allies have repeatedly rejected as absurd Mr Putin’s claims that Ukraine was being run by neo-Nazis, instead pointing that – unlike an authoritarian Russia – Ukraine was now a nation with growing democratic institutions.
Courtesy, BBC NEWS