NEW DELHI: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday announced a military operation in Ukraine.
Putin has warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen.”
As Putin spoke, big explosions were heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv and other areas of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the country will defend itself from Putin’s “war of aggression.”
Ukraine will defend itself and will win, said the minister.
Putin’s move comes close on the heels of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement that Russia will invade Ukraine within hours.
Russia had earlier said that separatists had asked Kremlin for help to repel Ukranian “aggression”, and as explosions rocked the breakaway eastern city of Donetsk.
Immediately after Putin made the announcement, there were explosions heard in Kiev and also across Ukraine, including towns in the east, like Kramatorsk, close to areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists, said the BBC.
The Russian President’s declaration came at the same time as the UN Security Council in an emergency meeting was imploring him to stop pushing more troops towards Ukraine.
Air raid sirens sound off in centre of Kyiv.
Donbas comprises the rebel regions of Luhansk and Donetsk which were declared as independent states earlier this week by the Russian leader which led to widespread condemnation and sanctions against Moscow.
In a televised speech to the nation on Thursday morning, 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, the BBC reported.
He said that the Ukrainian people would be able “to choose freely” who runs the country and reiterated that his country’s actions were in “self-defence”.
For days now, the Russia-Ukraine borders have seen large deployments of Russian military columns.
Tensions had climbed after Putin recognised two separatist regions in Ukraine as independent and ordered the deployment of what he called peacekeepers.
In his appeal, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked Putin to stop the Russian troops from attacking Ukraine and to “give peace a chance” as “too many people have already died.