It’s hard to imagine a more desperate plea than the one Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave on Thursday. He said that he would provide weapons to any citizen who is willing to defend the country against the Russian invasion.
Zelensky tweeted this urgent message, “We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities.”
Thursday morning, President Putin ordered his military to attack Ukraine and there were immediate reports of explosions all across the country, including the capital city of Kyiv. The attacks are massive in scope. The foreign minister of Ukraine indicated that Russia started a “full-blown invasion” of his country from multiple sides.
There were explosions and strikes in both the west and the east of the country. It was expected that they would invade from the eastern regions of Donbas and Donetsk because they had previously been sites of Russian military intervention. Also, Putin had declared those regions “independent” and supposedly sent “peacekeeping” troops there earlier this week.
President Zelensky also announced that Ukraine had cut diplomatic relations with Russia and challenged Russians to come out and protest against the war that Putin had initiated.
Zelensky tweeted this message as well, “For all those who have not yet lost their conscience in Russia, it is time to go out and protest against the war with Ukraine.”
The president of Ukraine declared martial law in his country and he urged his people to stay calm and stay at home. He wanted them to let the army do their work. Trying to rally optimism, he reminded his people that they were strong and ready. He even said that they would defeat the Russian army “because we are Ukraine.”
From Russia, President Vladimir Putin gave a speech saying that the military operation was intended to “demilitarize” Ukraine, but not occupy it. Then shortly after Putin’s address, Russian tanks crossed the border from Belarus in the north and occupied Crimea in the south of Ukraine. This is according to a report from the Ukraine Interior Ministry.
This is the culmination of something that has been brewing for years in Russia. In recent weeks, it has been apparent to the world that Russia was on the verge of an invasion. They brought almost 200,000 troops to the border of Ukraine, according to estimates by the United States. This is the largest military operation in these regions since World War II.
At the beginning of this week, President Putin recognized the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent, and he ordered troops there for what he falsely called a limited peace-keeping operation. Less than 72 hours after that move, Putin ordered a full-scale attack on Ukraine.
It wasn’t long before explosions were found in cities all over the nation, hundreds of miles from the eastern areas of conflict. Ukrainian offices have already reported dozens of casualties. So in a matter of days, this has changed from a limited incursion over disputed land to an all-out assault that is the most significant armed conflict in Europe in the least a decade. The number of deaths will rise quickly as Russian ground troops have launched attacks in many cities including Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Mariupol, and others.
Putin has instructed Ukrainian soldiers to give up and go home. He has also threatened both the U.S. and NATO that if they intervene “Russia will respond immediately, and you will have consequences that you never have had before in your history.”
President Biden is now reaping the results of his wait-and-see approach to this war. Let’s hope he finds the strength to respond before this escalates into World War III.