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Monday, March 20, 2023

Russia Declares War on Ukraine, Putin Warns US, NATO of Intervention

On Thursday, Russian forces started a broad offensive on Ukraine, defying international censure and sanctions while warning other countries that any effort to intervene would result in “consequences you have never seen.”

At least 40 people have been murdered, according to Ukraine’s government, in what it describes as a “full-scale war” aimed at the nation from the east, north, and south.

Large explosions were heard in the capital Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east, and Odesa in the west, according to Ukrainian border guards who released film of what they said were Russian military vehicles moving in. Ukrainians left various cities as the Russian military claimed to have destroyed Ukraine’s entire air defenses in a couple of hours, and European officials classified Ukrainian airspace an active war zone.

As global financial markets plummeted and oil prices skyrocketed, world leaders lamented the commencement of a long-awaited invasion with far-reaching effects. Russia’s activities have the potential to result in a large number of fatalities, overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government, and upend geopolitics and Europe’s post-Cold War security balance.

After weeks of unsuccessful diplomatic attempts, governments from the United States to Asia and Europe prepared additional sanctions, but global powers have stated they would not intervene militarily to rescue Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine severed diplomatic ties with Russia and imposed martial law, claiming that Russia had attacked Ukraine’s military infrastructure. Even as Ukrainian officials reported artillery barrages and airstrikes on locations around the nation, Ukrainians who had been bracing for an invasion were told to stay at home and not panic.

According to Oleksii Arestovich, a senior adviser to Ukraine’s president, over 40 people have been killed and many more injured as a result of the Russian strike. He didn’t say whether civilians were among the dead.

“The Ukrainian military is fighting hard in Donbas and other parts of the east, north, and south,” Zelenskyy stated during a press conference. He stated that the Ukrainian government will provide guns to anyone who is willing to protect the country.

Putin defended his actions in an overnight television address, claiming that the strike was necessary to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine – a bogus assertion that the US had anticipated he would use as a pretext for an invasion. He accused the US and its allies of neglecting Russia’s demands for security assurances and to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. He also stated that Russia does not seek to invade Ukraine, but rather will work to “demilitarize” the country and bring criminals to justice.

The attacks began with air strikes, but Ukrainian border guards subsequently revealed security camera footage on Thursday showing a line of Russian military vehicles entering into Ukrainian government-controlled territory from Russian-annexed Crimea.

Russian forces have gone up to 5 kilometers (3 miles) into Ukrainian territory in the Kharkiv and Chernihiv districts, as well as maybe in other locations, according to Oleksii Arestovich, a Zelenskyy adviser.

President Joe Biden announced further penalties against Russia in response to the attack that the international community had been anticipating for weeks but had been unable to avoid via diplomacy.

Putin defended the strike in a public address, claiming that it was necessary to protect people in eastern Ukraine, which the US had feared he would use as a pretext for an invasion. He accused the US and its allies of neglecting Russia’s demands for security assurances and to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. He also stated that Russia does not seek to invade Ukraine, but rather will work to “demilitarize” the country and bring criminals to justice.

In a brief statement, Biden criticized the strike as “unprovoked and unjustifiable,” and said that the US and its allies will “hold Russia responsible.” After a summit of the Group of Seven leaders on Thursday, the president indicated he wanted to talk to Americans. On Thursday, more penalties on Russia are anticipated to be revealed.

Residents in the capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko, were instructed to stay at home unless they were involved in crucial activity and to pack go-bags with essentials and papers in case they needed to escape. Hearing blasts and witnessing scores of people with luggage leaving for their cars to escape the city, an Associated Press photographer in Mariupol said.

“We are in the midst of a battle and terror. “Could it get any worse?” Liudmila Gireyeva, 64, told reporters in Kyiv. She intended to travel to Lviv, Ukraine, and then attempt to join her daughter in Poland. “History will judge Putin, and Ukrainians are damning him,” he said.

It was not immediately possible to verify Russian claims of knocking out Ukrainian air defenses and Ukrainian allegations of shooting down numerous Russian planes. The Ukrainian air defense system and air force are Soviet-era relics that pale in comparison to Russia’s huge air force and arsenal of precise weaponry.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that it was not targeting cities, but rather precise weaponry, and that there was “no concern to civilians.”

Zelenskyy asked world leaders to support Ukraine with defense and to safeguard its airspace from the “aggressor.” The European Union Aviation Safety Agency warned air operators that there was a significant danger of civilian aircraft colliding with military aircraft above Ukraine, warning them that “this is now an active conflict zone.”

The Russian military has conducted missile strikes against Ukrainian military command centres, air bases, and military depots in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Dnipro, according to Anton Gerashchenko, an assistant to Ukraine’s interior minister, who posted on Facebook.

People in Kyiv could be heard yelling in the streets after the initial blasts. Then, as a pre-dawn commute looked to begin in relative peace, a sense of normalcy restored, with automobiles moving and people wandering in the streets.

The conflict’s ramifications, as well as the sanctions imposed on Russia, began to reverberate throughout the world.

Stock markets throughout the world have plummeted, and oil prices have risen by roughly $6 per barrel. In Europe and Asia, market benchmarks plummeted, and U.S. futures were substantially down. On Thursday, Brent crude oil soared beyond $100 per barrel, owing to concerns about Russian supply disruptions. The ruble plummeted in value.

Anticipating international condemnation and retaliation, Putin issued a stern warning to other countries, saying, “whoever tries to obstruct us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and result in consequences you have never seen in history.”

Putin warned that “no one should have any illusions that a direct assault on our nation will result in the devastation and horrific consequences for any possible aggressor,” a stark reminder of Russia’s nuclear capabilities.

Despite the United States’ announcement on Tuesday of moving military near the Baltics, Biden has stated that he would not commit soldiers to battle Russia.

Putin’s declaration came only hours after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych dismissed Moscow’s assertions that his nation is a security danger and made an emotional, last-minute plea for peace.

“The people of Ukraine and the Ukrainian government desire peace,” Zelenskyy stated in an impassioned nocturnal speech to Russian citizens, speaking in Russian. “However, if we are attacked, if we are threatened with losing our nation, our freedom, our lives, or the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves.” You will see our faces, not our backs, when you assault us.”

Zelenskyy said he requested a conversation with Putin late Wednesday but received no response from the Kremlin.

“This action might mark the start of a huge conflict on the European continent,” Zelensky said, referring to Putin’s decision to sanction the deployment of Russian military forces in eastern Ukraine to “keep peace.”

“Any provocation, any spark,” he added, “may start a fire that would destroy everything.”

“You are told that this flame would bring freedom to the people of Ukraine,” he said, contradicting Russian propaganda. “But the Ukrainian people are free.”

Members of the United Nations Security Council who were uninformed of Putin’s declaration appealed to him to avoid an attack during an emergency meeting called by Ukraine due to the impending threat of a Russian invasion. Just before the announcement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed Putin, saying, “Give peace a chance.”

Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, have pledged to keep the Kremlin responsible.

“Our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men, and children who are facing this unjustified onslaught and fear for their lives,” they wrote on Twitter.

Hundreds of countries implemented sanctions on Russia before Putin’s statement, further isolating Russian oligarchs and banks from international markets.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed the sanctions, claiming that “Russia has demonstrated that, despite the sanctions’ costs, it is capable of minimizing the harm.”

War has already wreaked havoc on Ukraine’s economy, threatening mass fatalities, energy shortages across Europe, and worldwide economic turmoil.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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