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In a televised address, Mr Putin said the action comes in response to threats coming from Ukraine.

He warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to the media during a news conference following his meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Sergey Guneev / Sputnik via AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to the media during a news conference following his meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. (Sputnik via AP)

Mr Putin said Russia doesn’t have a goal to occupy Ukraine, and that the responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian “regime”.

He accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees.

He said the Russian military operation aims to ensure a “demilitarisation” of Ukraine.

Mr Putin said that all Ukrainian servicemen who lay down arms will be able to safely leave the zone of combat.

This satellite image shows Russian military convoys about 20km north of the border with Ukraine. (Maxar Technologies) (CNN)

US President Joe Biden condemned an “unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces”.

Ukrainian president vows to ‘fight back’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed earlier today his country would “fight back” against a Russian invasion.

In an emotional address to the nation, Mr Zelenskyy said he had pleaded for peace adding that he tried to contact Mr Putin but the Russian leader would would not accept the call.

Mr Zelenskyy rejected Moscow’s claims that his country poses a threat to Russia and lamented that a Russian invasion would cost tens of thousands of lives.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded for peace. (AP)

Mr Zelensky said “nearly 200,000 soldiers” were stationed on the Ukrainian border, along with “thousands of combat vehicles”.

“The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,” he said in Russian, hours after declaring a nationwide state of emergency.

But if the nation comes under an attack, “we will fight back.”

“Today I initiated a telephone conversation with the President of the Russian Federation. Silence. Although there should be silence in the Donbas,” Mr Zelensky said.

New satellite imagery has shown a number of new deployments among Russian forces, especially in and around the Belgorod region, which is adjacent to the Ukrainian border.

This satellite image shows a Russian battle group deployed near Krasnaya Yaruga, approximately 20km east of the border with Ukraine. (Maxar Technologies) (CNN)

Earlier, the Ukrainian parliament approved Mr Zelensky’s decree that imposes a nationwide state of emergency as pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east have formally appealed to Moscow for military support.

The decree allows Ukrainian authorities to impose restrictions on movement, block rallies and ban political parties and organisations “in the interests of national security and public order”.

Mr Zelensky has called up some military reservists as the threat of a Russian invasion grew.

He acknowledged that his country faces huge odds without membership in a powerful security alliance like NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, near the Kremlin Wall during the national celebrations of the 'Defender of the Fatherland Day' in Moscow, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, near the Kremlin Wall during the national celebrations of the ‘Defender of the Fatherland Day’ in Moscow, Russia. (AP)

“We are self-defending ourselves with the support of our partners. But it’s Ukrainians who are dying,” he said.

Kyiv reported shelling on the frontline in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed rebels have held territory since 2014.

The Ukrainian military said one of its soldiers was killed and six more were injured. Separatist officials reported several explosions on their territory overnight and three civilian deaths.

Ukraine’s forces are no match for Moscow’s military might, so Kyiv is counting on other countries to hit Russia hard — with sanctions.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter that the West should target Russian President Vladimir Putin where it hurts without delay.

“Hit his economy and cronies. Hit more. Hit hard. Hit now,” Mr Kuleba wrote.

The Ukrainian Government has extended private gun owner rights as part of its emergency measures, enabling them to buy firearms from gun stores with less restrictions. (Getty)

‘Russia alone responsible for the death and destruction’

US President Joe Biden condemned an “unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces” in a statement Wednesday evening following explosions in Ukraine.

“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Mr Biden said.

“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way.”

“The world will hold Russia accountable.”

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on Russia and Ukraine in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. Biden is addressing the situation in Ukraine, with the U.S. expected to announce new sanctions after the European Union and the U.K. set out an initial set of penalties targeting Moscow. Photographer: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg
US President Joe Biden has condemned Russia’s military attack on Ukraine in a statement. (Bloomberg)

Mr Biden said that he planned to speak to the American people on Thursday and would announce “further consequences” that the US and its allies planned to impose on Russia over “this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security.”

“We will also coordinate with our NATO Allies to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the Alliance,” Mr Biden said.

Leaders of separatists appeal to Russia

The heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), two separatist regions in Ukraine, recently recognised by Russia as independent, formally asked Mr Putin for help repelling the aggression of Ukrainian Armed Forces, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti.

“The president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin received letters of appeal from the head of the Luhansk People’s Republic Leonid Pasechnik and the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Denis Pushilin,” Mr Peskov said, according to RIA.

Russian armoured vehicles are loaded onto railway platforms near the Russia-Ukraine border. (AP)

But the White House said the request by Ukrainian separatists for Russian military assistance in the face of supposed “aggression” by Ukraine’s government is an example of the “false flag” operations the West has consistently warned against.

The US and allies have alleged for weeks that Russia would try to create a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine through the use of such operations.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the Kremlin’s announcement on Wednesday that the separatists are seeking help “is an example” of such an operation.

Ms Psaki adds that “we’ll continue to call out what we see as false flag operations or efforts to spread misinformation about what the actual status is on the ground.”

‘Moment of peril’ for world

The UN’s Secretary General warned, “our world is facing a moment of peril” after Russia began evacuating its embassy in Kyiv and Ukraine urged its citizens to leave Russia while declaring a state of emergency in the nation.

Hopes for a diplomatic way out of a new, potentially devastating war in Europe appeared all but sunk as the US and key European allies accused Moscow on Tuesday of crossing a red line in rolling over Ukraine’s border into separatist regions — with some calling it an invasion.
A Ukrainian army officer looks at his phone in a local train in Kyiv, Ukraine.
A Ukrainian army officer looks at his phone in a local train in Kyiv, Ukraine. (AP)

“We meet in the face of the most serious global peace and security crisis in recent years, and certainly in my time as secretary general,” Antonio Guterres said.

“Our world is facing a moment of peril. I truly hoped it would not come.

“The latest developments regarding Ukraine are a cause of great concern, and they include reports of increased ceasefire violations across the contact line and the real risk of further escalation on the ground.”

People sing the Ukrainian national anthem during a protest outside the Russian Embassy earlier this week.
People sing the Ukrainian national anthem during a protest outside the Russian Embassy earlier this week. (Getty)
Vladimir Putin throughout the years

Vladimir Putin through the years: Who really is Russia’s President?

With Associated Press and CNN

Source: 9News

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