“Circumstances require us to take decisive and immediate action,” the order reads.
“The People’s Republics of Donbass turned to Russia with a request for help. In this regard, in accordance with Article 51, part 7 of the UN Charter, with the sanction of the Federation Council and in pursuance of the friendship treaties ratified by the Federal Assembly and mutual assistance with the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, I have decided to conduct a special military operation,” Putin concludes.
At the same time, in address to the public, Putin said that he wanted to “demilitarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
According to him, “we have no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory.”
Within moments of the speech, a series of explosions were reported in cities across Ukraine, with CNN, CBC and a number of Ukrainian media outlets reporting to hear a blast in the capital, Kiev.
In a statement, US President Joe Biden said that “the prayers of the world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by the Russian military forces.”
The decision comes days after Moscow recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk breakaway republics in the Donbass, alleging Kiev had not lived up to its obligations under the Minsk agreements struck in 2014 and 2015 to resolve conflict between separatists and the Ukrainian government.
Officials later authorized what they describe as a “peacekeeping operation” in the region.
Western leaders for months had predicted a looming incursion, claiming Russia has amassed troops near its border with Ukraine and in neighboring Belarus, where Moscow has conducted joint drills in recent weeks.
Russia has so far denied plans for an attack, however, and maintains its actions in the Donbass will be defensive in nature.
The US and its European partners have already imposed sanctions on a series of Russian financial institutions, officials and lawmakers following the recognition of the break-away states, vowing to bring more penalties should Moscow “further invade” Ukraine.
Putin has claimed that Russia had “no plans to occupy the Ukrainian territories” after announcing that a special operation was launched to defend the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics from “Ukrainian aggression.”
The operation’s ultimate goal is “to protect the people who have been subjected for 8 years to genocide by the Kiev regime,” Putin stated in an adress on Thursday morning, adding that Moscow would “embark on a demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, and handing over to justice those who committed numerous atrocities against civilians.”
The Russian president noted, however, that Moscow harbors no far-reaching plans to take over the whole territory of Ukraine.
“We do not have plans to occupy Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force,” he continued.
The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the Russian military is attacking Ukrainian military facilities as part of an ongoing operation in Ukraine. Precision weapons are used against military infrastructure, air defense sites, military airfields and aircraft, according to a statement.
The military said that Russia was not attacking Ukrainian cities, contrary to claims that say otherwise. Ukrainian civilians are not under threat, the statement added.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Ukrainian military sites were under attack. Speaking in a video address on his social media, he announced martial law in the country.
He called on Ukrainians to stay calm and preferably not to leave their homes. He stressed Ukraine was “strong” and will “defeat anyone”.
Kiev’s foreign minister has also declared war has broken out between Russia and Ukraine, as Moscow confirms it has hit Ukrainian military targets moments after the Kremlin issued an order for a “special operation” in the breakaway Donbass region.
In a statement issued early on Thursday morning, Dmitry Kuleba said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
“Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes,” he added, with claims coming in of explosions near the capital, Kiev.
“This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win,” he insisted, stating, “The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”