Putin announces Russian troops to be sent into Ukraine, Biden calls move ‘unprovoked and unjustified’

February 24, 2022, 3:47 AM UTC

Vladimir Putin decided to conduct a special operation to “protect” the Donbas region of Ukraine, saying the U.S. crossed Russia’s “red line” by expanding NATO.

In a televised speech early Thursday, Putin said Russia doesn’t plan to occupy Ukraine. He accused the U.S. of refusing to negotiate on Russia’s security demands and said the current circumstances demanded immediate action. He appealed to Ukrainain soldiers to lay down their weapons and go home.

President Joe Biden called the move “an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces” and vowed more U.S. action.

“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said in a statement. “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 Kremlin said Wednesday that separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine had appealed to Putin for help fighting Ukrainian forces. The two self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk sought help under treaties Putin signed with their leaders Monday. 

Stocks were down across Asia Thursday, with equities declining in all major markets. U.S. futures extended a decline. Treasuries, the dollar, gold and crude oil all gained.

Putin has for months sustained a large troop buildup around Ukraine, with the U.S. estimating around 150,000 soldiers are now in the area, alongside artillery and tanks. Russia has repeatedly rejected U.S. allegations that Putin intends to invade Ukraine as “hysteria” and propaganda.

The Donetsk and Luhansk separatists held about 30% of the territory of the two Ukrainian regions as of Wednesday, with the rest under the control of government forces.

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