Russia-Ukraine conflict: Putin announces “military operation" in Donbas

Russia-Ukraine conflict: Putin announces “military operation" in Donbas
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin Wall on the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, Russia February 23, 2022. Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS

The backstory:

  • Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine (a former Soviet state) back in 2014, which caused it to be kicked out of the international military alliance, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Today, there are an estimated 100,000 troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border, worrying people that Russia is looking to invade again, eight years after the first invasion.
  • Russia denies it intends to invade and says that the troops have been positioned there for self-defense. Meanwhile, they’ve sent some demands to the West, including banning Ukraine from ever entering NATO.
  • The United States responded by writing to Russia, saying that they wouldn’t ban Ukraine but would find ways to work with Russia where appropriate.
  • On Monday, in a televised address, Russian President Putin recognized two Russian-backed separatist regions in Ukraine and then ordered the Russian army into the area to “keep the peace.”
  • Putin described the country as an essential part of Russia’s history and added that he was confident that the Russian public would support his decision.
  • Since Russia’s move, the US, the United Kingdom and the European Union have all announced new sanctions against the country, with more to come in the next few days.
  • Ukraine has declared a state of emergency, which will start on February 24 and go on for 30 days. This announcement came after several government websites were experiencing a denial-of-service (DDOS) attack.

The development:

  • In the early hours of Thursday morning, Russia’s President Putin authorized a special military operation in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
  • Putin explained that the move was in response to threats coming from Ukraine. He also urged Ukrainian soldiers to lay down their weapons and go home, and that any bloodshed would be on them.
  • Putin also added that his country has “no plans" to occupy Ukraine, and that the Ukrainian people would be able “to choose freely" who runs the country.
  • At the same time, an emergency meeting between the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was being held in New York urging Russia to stop.
  • Soon after, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that Moscow’s claims that Ukraine was a threat to Russia were false.
  • “The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace," Zelenskiy said in an emotional address in Russian. “But if we come under attack, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs."
  • In response to Putin’s move, Biden said, “President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring. The world will hold Russia accountable."
  • More consequences from the West will be imposed on Russia on Thursday.

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