Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen”

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during an expanded meeting of the Defence Ministry Board in Moscow, Russia December 21, 2021. Sputnik/Mikhail Tereshchenko/Pool via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

RUSSIA LAUNCHES MILITARY ATTACK ON UKRAINE WITH REPORTS OF EXPLOSIONS AND TROOPS CROSSING BORDER

Russian forces have begun an attack on Ukraine, with reports of troops crossing the border to the north and south, explosions in multiple cities including the capital Kyiv and Russian President Vladimir Putin warning of bloodshed unless Ukrainian forces lay down their arms.

Reports of military action came as world leaders attempted to avert catastrophe with a meeting of the United Nations Security Council amid warnings that a possible invasion could start the biggest war in Europe since 1945.

The attack prompted immediate condemnation from the United States and its allies, which have threatened to enact “full scale” sanctions in response to Russian military aggression.

As the sound of air raid sirens rang out across the Ukrainian capital early Thursday, the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky moved to enact martial law and government ministers accused Moscow of launching a “full scale invasion.” But as dawn broke in Kyiv, there was still traffic on the streets and in Kramatorsk a local official said people were calm and going to work.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared martial law, saying Russia has targeted Ukraine’s military infrastructure. Ukrainians who had long braced for the prospect of an assault, while never knowing precisely when it would come, were urged to stay home and not to panic even as the country’s border guard agency reported an artillery barrage by Russian troops from neighboring Belarus.

President Joe Biden pledged new sanctions to punish Russia for the aggression that the international community had expected for weeks but could not prevent through diplomacy.

Putin justified it all in a televised address, asserting that the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine — a false claim the U.S. had predicted he would make as a pretext for an invasion. He accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and for security guarantees. He also credulously claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarize” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice.

Biden in a written statement condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack,” and he promised that the U.S. and its allies would “hold Russia accountable.” The president said he planned to speak to Americans on Thursday after a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders. More sanctions against Russia were expected to be announced Thursday.

The consequences of the conflict and resulting sanctions on Russia could reverberate throughout the world, upending geopolitical dynamics in Europe as well as affecting energy supplies in Europe and jolting global financial markets.

Asian stock markets plunged and oil prices surged as the attack began. Earlier, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1.8% to an eight-month low after the Kremlin said rebels in eastern Ukraine asked for military assistance.

Anticipating international condemnation and countermeasures, Putin issued a stark warning to other countries not to meddle, saying, “whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history.”

(Credit:CNN,TIME)