Putin warns against countermeasures
Anticipating international condemnation and countermeasures, Mr Putin issued a stern warning to other countries not to interfere, saying: “Anyone who tries to prevent us, let alone create threats to our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and will lead to consequences that you have never seen in history.
Mr Putin urged the Ukrainian military to “immediately lay down their arms and go home”.
In a stark reminder of Russia’s nuclear power, Mr Putin warned that “no one should doubt that a direct attack on our country will bring destruction and horrific consequences for any potential aggressor”.
He pointed out that Russia is “one of the strongest nuclear powers and also has a certain advantage in a range of advanced weapons.”
Although the United States on Tuesday announced the repositioning of forces around the Baltics, Mr Biden said he would not send troops to fight Russia.
Mr Putin announced the military operation after the Kremlin said rebels in eastern Ukraine had asked Russia for military assistance to help repel Ukrainian ‘aggression’, an announcement which he said the White House, was a “false flag” operation by Moscow to provide a pretext for an invasion.
Mr Putin’s announcement came just hours after Ukraine’s president dismissed claims from Moscow that his country posed a threat to Russia and launched an impassioned last-minute plea for peace.
“The Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian government want peace,” Zelensky said in a moving speech overnight, speaking in Russian in a direct appeal to Russian citizens. “But if we are attacked, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. When you attack us, you’ll see our faces, not our backs.