Early Thursday local time, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Ukrainian forces to lay down their arms and go home while announcing a military action in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Putin encouraged Ukrainian forces to lay down their arms and return home in an address broadcast on Russian national television, saying the Ukrainian government bears whole responsibility for any potential violence.
“Our plans are not to occupy Ukraine, and we do not intend to push ourselves on anyone,” he stressed.
Putin’s address was delivered as fears of a full-scale Russian invasion grew. The separatist-held territories of Donetsk and Luhansk are part of the Donbas region, which Putin proclaimed as autonomous on Monday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky begged for peace before announcing military action, but pledged that his country would protect itself.
Following Putin’s speech, US President Joe Biden released a statement, claiming that Russia had launched an “unprovoked and unjustified attack” on the people of Ukraine.
“President Putin has chosen a deliberate war that will result in massive human suffering and loss of life,” he stated.
“The United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive manner to the death and damage that this attack will bring. Russia will be held accountable by the rest of the world.”