With the world watching, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a wide-scale, pre-dawn attack Thursday against Ukraine, unleashing an invasion that the United States and its allies had warned was coming for days.
It was not immediately clear how extensive the damage or casualties were in the initial stages of the assault, but Ukrainian authorities said Russian forces had struck military assets and other important defense facilities and were attacking border units. Explosions were heard thudding across cities throughout Ukraine, including in the capital, Kyiv.
President Joe Biden condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack” shortly after it began and vowed that the world would hold Russia and Putin accountable for the aggression, which threatened to create global upheaval and escalate into the largest military conflict on European soil since the end of World War II.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said in a statement after Putin announced military action against Ukraine.
Biden said he will address the nation later today to announce additional steps the U.S. will take beyond sanctions already imposed.
Just minutes earlier, President Vladimir Putin had said in a televised address to his country that Russia will conduct a military operation in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian president said the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine — a false claim the U.S. had predicted he would make as a pretext for an invasion. And he claimed that Russia doesn’t intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarize” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice.