This is what Putin said before invading Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin who ordered a military operation in Ukraine early Thursday said he had been left with no choice but to launch the operation.
In a televised address Thursday morning, Mr Putin said the sspecial military operation’ was aimed at protecting eastern Ukraine from what he called a “regime.”
Multiple news platforms have reported explosions in major Russian cities including Kyiv, the county’s capital, as well as in Kharkiv, a city in the northeast.
BBC reports that Russian troops have landed in Odessa, the county’s southernmost port city, and footage showed Russian tanks entering Ukraine through Belarus, the fastest pathway for reaching Kyiv.
Western leaders have quickly condemned what they called the start of a Russian invasion that could spark the biggest war in Europe since 1945.
“I have decided to conduct a special military operation,” Reuters news agency quoted Mr Putin as saying.
He said that the “goal is the defence of people who for a period of eight years have suffered the scorn and genocide of the Kyiv regime — and for that, we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.
“And to bring to court those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.”
Ukraine has dismissed Russian accusations of genocide against people living in parts of its east seized by Russian-backed separatists in 2014.
It accused Russia of looking for an artificial pretext to attack it.
In his speech, Mr Putin told the Ukrainian forces to lay down their weapons and go home.
“I urge you to immediately lay down your weapons and go home. All servicemen of the Ukrainian army who fulfil this demand will be able to freely leave the combat zone and return to their families,” he said.
Mr Putin added that Russia cannot feel safe and develop and exist with the constant threat coming from the modern territory of Ukraine.
“We simply weren’t given any other option to defend Russia and our people other than that which we will use today.”
He said Moscow would not occupy Ukraine but had to end eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Kyiv government forces have been fighting pro-Moscow separatist militants.
His only intention, Mr Putin said, is to protect Russia from “those who took Ukraine hostage.”
He suggested that he planned to annex parts of the country as Russia did in 2014 when it seized Crimea from Ukraine
“Let me remind you that when the U.S.S.R. was created after the Second World War, people who lived in certain territories included in modern Ukraine, no one ever asked them how they themselves wanted to build their life,” he added.
According to Financial Times, Mr Putin also referred to the UN’s right to self-determination — a possible indication that Russia plans to create more Moscow-backed rump states in Ukraine’s south-east. Mr Putin also appeared fully bent on regime change in Kyiv.
“All responsibility for possible bloodshed will be completely and totally on the conscience of the regime ruling on Ukrainian territory,” he said.
He also threatened strong retaliations against any country that joins forces with Ukraine.
Although the U.S. and many Western countries have condemned the invasion and imposed sanctions on Russia, none has indicated any willingness to join the war.
American President Joe Biden is expected to give an address at noon. But, he posted a tweet saying “prayers of the world are with the people of Ukraine” and that the U.S. and its allies will be imposing “severe sanctions” on Russia.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Mr Biden added, “World leaders would hold Russia accountable.”
“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring.”