Russian troops have invaded Ukraine hours after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered troops into two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, after recognizing the areas as independent and delivering an intense speech in which he said Ukraine was not a real country and lacked the “traditions” of statehood.
On Tuesday morning, February 22, Russian tanks, trucks and troops could be seen entering Donetsk and Luhansk.
A column of armoured vehicles was spotted in Donetsk, the main city of one of the two so-called ‘republics’, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
At the same time, Ukraine said heavy shelling broke out along nearly all 250 miles of its frontline with the breakaway provinces, leaving two of its soldiers dead and 12 injured in a major escalation in violence.
On Monday night the UK prime minister Boris Johnson initiated a COBRA emergency committee, while the US, France and Ukraine have also initiated emergency security meetings .
Late Monday night, Ukraine asked for an emergency United Nations security council meeting over Russia’s actions.
Before Putin’s order, world leaders including Joe Biden and Boris Johnson had made it clear that any Russian incursion, no matter how limited, into Ukrainian territory would be considered a fresh invasion and spark an unprecedented flurry of sanctions.
Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, gave a 2am address to the nation in which he vowed to resist Russia’s attempts to break up the country, declaring: ‘We are not afraid of anyone or anything. We don’t owe anyone anything. And we won’t give anything to anyone.’
In an hour-long speech to the Russian nation before signing his order, Putin seemed to be laying out a case for attacking the whole of Ukraine – arguing it has no history of statehood, was ‘created by Lenin’, is a corrupt US and NATO vassal, and has been directly threatening Russia’s security.
Putin vowed ‘bloodshed’ if Ukraine’s troops try to resist him and that ‘all responsibility… will be entirely on the conscience of the regime ruling Ukraine’, while also accusing the West of trying to ‘destroy’ Russia.
Putin has 190,000 troops backed by hundreds of tanks, artillery pieces, fighter jets, heavy bombers and missile batteries encircling Ukraine from three sides – including just a few dozen miles north of the capital, Kiev.