Putin attacks Ukraine – Grid News

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Putin attacks Ukraine

The formal announcement came at dawn Thursday in Moscow — just as the United Nations Security Council was in an emergency session in New York. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was launching a “special military operation” in Ukraine, aimed at the “demilitarization and denazification” of the country. It was, he said, a response to an urgent call for help from the Russian-backed separatist enclaves he had recognized only three days before.

Putin demanded that Ukrainian soldiers abandon their weapons and said Russia’s plans “do not include occupying Ukrainian territory.” But it was clear in the early hours that the assault would reach well beyond those separatist regions; Kyiv, Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities were bombed.

Putin warned other countries not to “interfere” with the Russian invasion.

“Anyone who tries to interfere with us, or even more so, to create threats for our country and our people, must know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences as you have never before experienced in your history,” Putin said.

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The Russian leader had laid the military groundwork for war months before and made his rhetorical case earlier this week, in a blistering address from the Kremlin Monday night. It was a catalog of grievances built up over decades. Almost none of them was grounded in fact.

Ukraine was a creation of the Bolshevik Revolution, Putin said. It was largely Russian, and had been so for centuries. Its government was illegitimate. The United States and the West had pushed an anti-Russian agenda in Ukraine from the moment the Soviet Union ceased to exist on Christmas Day 1991.

The Russian leader went so far as to warn that weapons of mass destruction might be stationed in Ukraine. And that Ukraine’s leaders were responsible for a “genocide” against Russians in eastern Ukraine — a charge he repeated this morning.

The conditions he put forth Monday — that the authorities in Kyiv “must stop their hostilities” — were impossible to meet, as it was Russia that was instigating the hostilities. As for the claim that Russia’s military operation was required for the “denazification” of Ukraine, that country’s president had his own answer.

Hours before Putin’s war declaration, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy gave an impassioned address aimed at the Russian people, in which he invoked Ukrainian resistance to the Nazis during World War II. “You are told we are Nazis,” he said. “Can a people support Nazis after giving 8 million lives for the victory over Nazism? Tell my grandpa, who went through the war in the infantry of the Soviet Army and died a colonel in independent Ukraine.”

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Putin has taken a grudge that dates to the Soviet collapse — a humiliation over the loss of Russian influence and anger over the eastward expansion of NATO — and built it into something profoundly dangerous.

A little over a month ago, as Grid launched, our Global Security Reporter Josh Keating wrote a compelling story about Putin, and the Ukraine crisis, under the headline “Invading Ukraine would be a terrible idea for Putin. He might do it anyway.” We wish that headline had not been so prophetic.

  • Tom Nagorski
    Tom Nagorski

    Global Editor

    Tom Nagorski is the global editor at Grid, where he oversees our coverage of global security, U.S.-China relations, migration trends, global economics and U.S. foreign policy.