Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened against outside intervention in Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine during a speech early Thursday.
The Russia leader blamed the United States’ “empire of lies” for setting up the conflict and referenced Russia’s nuclear capacity in what appeared to be a veiled threat of nuclear war.
“Whoever would try to stop us and further create threats to our country, to our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and lead you to such consequences that you have never faced in your history. We are ready for any outcome,” Putin said.
He remarked that Russia “remains one of the most powerful nuclear states” with “a certain advantage in several cutting edge weapons.”
He said: “There should be no doubt that any potential aggressor will face defeat and ominous consequences should it directly attack our country.”
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday morning local time, launching airstrikes and missiles against military bases and cities across Ukraine. Explosions were seen in several populous Ukrainian cities, including the country’s capital of Kyiv.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces were battling Russians attempting to take control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. The plant lies close to Ukraine’s northern border with Belarus and less than 60 miles from Kyiv. Ukrainian forces are defending against a Russian assault on a strategic airport near the capital city, as well, according to the Associated Press.
In a televised speech on Thursday, Zelensky called on Ukrainians to arm themselves and fight back against the Russian onslaught.
“But if we’ll be attacked by the [enemy] troops, if they try to take our country away from us, our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. Not attack, but defend ourselves. And when you will be attacking us, you will see our faces, not our backs, but our faces,” Zelensky said in his address.
World leaders across the West were quick to issue statements condemning the Russian invasion as they prepare economic sanctions in response.
U.S. President Joe Biden said: “President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “The Russian attack on Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law. There is no justification for it. Germany condemns this reckless act by President Putin in the strongest possible terms. Our solidarity is with Ukraine and its people. Russia must stop this military action immediately. Within the framework of the G7, Nato and the EU, we will coordinate closely today. This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe.”
French President Emanuel Macron said: “France strongly condemns Russia’s decision to wage war on Ukraine. Russia must end its military operations immediately. France stands in solidarity with Ukraine. It stands with the Ukrainians and works with its partners and allies to end the war.”
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