Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine to safeguard separatists in the Donbas region in the country’s east. He made a surprise statement on television shortly before 6 a.m., saying, “I have made the decision of a military operation.”
Weeks of intense diplomacy and the imposition of Western sanctions on Russia failed to deter Putin, who had gathered between 150,000 and 200,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders. Russia also demanded that Ukrainian soldiers lay down their arms, claiming a “genocide” in Ukraine’s east as justification for the invasion.
Vladimir Putin denied any plans to attack Ukraine for months. The announcement was on live television followed by reports of explosions in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, as well as other parts of the country.
A missile attack in Ukraine’s southern Odessa region killed 18 people, according to regional authorities. According to local authorities, at least six people were killed in the Ukrainian town of Brovary, which is located near the capital of Kyiv. An aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters that more than 40 Ukrainian soldiers and around ten civilians died in the first hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In response to Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has terminated Kyiv’s diplomatic relations with Moscow.
Ukraine’s UN ambassador pleaded with the Security Council, which is chaired by Russia, to “do everything possible” to put an end to the war against his country. Sergiy Kyslytsya told a late-night meeting of the 15-member council that began shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine, “It is the responsibility of these bodies like UN to stop the war.”
After a Russian invasion, Ukraine closed its airspace, forcing India to seek alternative routes to evacuate its citizens living in the conflict-torn country. This morning, an Air India flight bound for Ukraine was forced to return to Delhi. Flight trackers on the internet show no commercial aircraft in Ukrainian airspace as of now.
“Dear Indians in Ukraine, the present situation in Ukraine is highly uncertain. Please maintain calm and remain safe wherever you are, be it in your homes, hostels, accommodations or in transit,” India’s embassy in Ukraine said in the advisory.
What is Putin’s problem with Ukraine?
Russia has long opposed Ukraine’s move to European institutions, including NATO and the European Union. Putin has now claimed that Ukraine is a puppet of the West and that it was never a proper state in the first place. He wants guarantees from the West and Ukraine that Ukraine will not join Nato, a 30-nation defensive alliance, and that it will demilitarise and become a neutral state.
Ukraine has deep social and cultural ties with Russia, and Russian is widely spoken there, but those ties have deteriorated since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. When Ukraine’s pro-Russian president was deposed in early 2014, Russia launched an attack. More than 14,000 people have died as a result of the war in the east.
With false accusations that Ukraine committed “genocide” in the east, Russia has already laid the groundwork for war. It has distributed over 700,000 passports in rebel-controlled areas, so any action could be justified as safeguarding its own citizens.
In January, Ukrainian government websites went down, and in mid-February, two of the country’s largest banks were hacked.
Multiple demands have been highlighted by Russia: First, it wants a legally binding pledge that Ukraine will never join NATO. President Putin has also claimed that if Ukraine joins Nato, the alliance will attempt to reconquer Crimea.
His other main demands are that Nato not deploy “strike weapons near Russia’s borders” and that member states that have joined the alliance from 1997 remove their forces and military infrastructure.
In 1994, Russia signed an agreement to respect independent Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty. But last year President Putin wrote a long piece describing Russians and Ukrainians as “one nation”, and now he has claimed modern Ukraine was entirely created by communist Russia.
World’s reaction to Russian invasion
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Western allies were readying a “massive” package of sanctions against Russia and told the people of Ukraine: “We cannot and will not just look away.” In a televised address to the nation, Johnson also referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “dictator” who would never “subdue the national feeling of the Ukrainians”.
Early Thursday, US President Joe Biden will be meeting his counterparts from the Group of Seven allies to discuss tougher sanctions against Russia after President Vladimir Putin launched “a premeditated war” against Ukraine, according to Biden. Biden, who spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy late Wednesday, said the US and its allies will respond to what he called “an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces” on Ukraine in a “united and decisive” manner.
Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine “shakes the foundations of the international order,” Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday. “The most recent Russian invasion rocks the international order, which forbids unilateral attempts to alter the status quo, he told reporters.
Turkey’s foreign minister on Thursday said Russia’s military operation in Ukraine was unacceptable and urged Moscow to stop its “unjust and unlawful” invasion immediately. “We consider the military operation … unacceptable and reject it,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “We call on the Russian Federation to stop this unjust and unlawful action as soon as possible.”
In response to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Moscow, the United States stated that it is the responsibility of every “responsible” country to express opposition to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. According to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, the US has informed Pakistan about its position on the situation in Ukraine.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday lashed Russia’s attack on Ukraine as “unjustified and unjustifiable,” saying Europe and NATO were working on an immediate response.
Government of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation has allowed passengers travelling from Ukraine to travel by transit under India-Qatar bilateral air bubble arrangement, said Embassy of India in Doha, Qatar.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday, requesting that he ensure the safety of Indian students and make special arrangements for their return by arranging special flights. According to the Kerala Chief Minister, there are 2,320 Kerala students in Ukraine. He also urged the MEA to take immediate steps toward the students’ repatriation.
French President Emmanuel Macron strongly condemned Russia’s military action in Ukraine, promising to work with allies to end the conflict.
“Russia must cease its military operations immediately,” Macron wrote on Twitter, claiming that Russia had decided to “wage war” on Ukraine.
China Calls For Restraint In Ukraine, Rejects The Term ‘Invasion’. China reiterated its call for restraint from all parties involved in the Ukraine crisis, rejecting a foreign journalist’s description of Russia’s actions as an invasion. Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, made the remarks during a regular daily briefing.
In the event of a refugee influx as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany pledged support for its neighbours, including Poland, on Thursday. Hundreds of Ukrainians fleeing a Russian invasion have arrived in Poland, some carrying luggage and accompanied by children, at the normally quiet Medyka crossing.
“Poland is preparing to accept migrants from Ukraine, including Ukrainian citizens affected by the armed conflict,” the ministry said
Israel condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine Thursday as a “violation of the international order” but underlined its close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv.
Russia improved its global standing and emerged as a significant military power between 1991 and 2014. Moscow became increasingly concerned as Ukraine moved closer to the West, fearing that its strategic interests in Crimea would be jeopardised.
Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, had the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal when the Soviet Union disintegrated in the early 1990s. In exchange for security guarantees that protected Kyiv from a potential Russian attack, Kyiv gave back its substantial nuclear stockpile to Russia, anticipating a friendly relationship with Moscow moving forward.
At the time, Ukrainians had little reason to fear Russia, especially since more than 83 per cent of Donbas residents and 54 per cent of Crimea residents voted yes to having Ukraine secede from the USSR in a 1991 referendum.
Even Russian-speaking Ukrainians overwhelmingly supported Ukraine’s independence, and Russia appeared to be a toothless power on the international stage after years of military and economic decline during the Cold War. Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Kremlin Ukrainian president, rejected membership in the European Union (EU) in 2014 in favour of closer ties with Moscow.
This sparked a wave of protests across Ukraine, ultimately resulting in Yanukovych’s removal from office the following year. Russia retaliated by annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and supporting a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine. In 2015, Ukraine and Russia agreed to sign the Minsk Agreements, which stipulated that Russia must withdraw all of its troops and equipment from Ukraine in exchange for Kyiv’s compliance agreeing to hold special elections in Donbas.
Russia, on the other hand, has continued to use unconventional tactics against Ukraine, such as cyber-attacks, funding and arming irregular militias and spreading mass disinformation. In Donetsk and Luhansk, Russia installed puppet governments, establishing military dictatorships in the occupied territories that were previously run by Russian citizens.
Over time, the Kremlin began to shift the narrative of the conflict, portraying it as a civil war in Ukraine in which Russia was merely acting as a mediator. This notion has been categorically rejected by Ukrainians. The conflict, according to Vorozhbyt, was between Ukraine and Russia, not between nationalists and separatists.
Over 14,000 people have been killed and 1.4 million people have been internally displaced in the Donbas since 2014, with approximately 75,000 of them fleeing to Russia.