Putin announces ‘military operation’ in Ukraine

© KEYSTONE/AP/Alexei Nikolsky

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday morning a “military operation” in Ukraine to defend pro-Russian separatists, in a surprise speech on Russian television. He called on Ukrainian soldiers “to lay down their arms”.

“I have taken the decision for a military operation”, declared the master of the Kremlin shortly before 04:00 (in Switzerland). He once again denounced a “genocide” orchestrated by Ukraine in the east of the country, citing the call for help from the separatists announced overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, and the aggressive policy of the NATO with regard to Russia, of which Ukraine would be the tool.

He assured that he did not want “occupation” of Ukraine, but its “demilitarization”. Then, he addressed those “who would try to interfere with us […] they must know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead to consequences you have never experienced before.”

“I am sure that the soldiers and officers of Russia will fulfill their duty courageously,” he said again. “The security of the country is guaranteed”.

He gave no details on the extent of the military operation, whether it would be limited to eastern Ukraine or whether it would be wider.

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