Russia’s Putin announces military operation in Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Russian troops have launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine as President Vladimir Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions.

He warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”

Ukraine’s leadership said at least 40 people have been killed so far in what it called a “full-scale war” targeting the country from the east, north and south. Ukrainian border guards released footage of what they said were Russian tanks moving in. Big explosions were heard in Ukrainian cities Thursday.

The Russian military claimed to have wiped out Ukraine’s entire air defenses in a matter of hours. Ukrainians fled some cities. World leaders decried the start of a long-anticipated invasion with far-reaching consequences.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a military operation in Ukraine, claiming it’s intended to protect civilians.

In a televised address early Thursday, Putin said the action comes in response to threats coming from Ukraine. He added that Russia doesn’t have a goal to occupy Ukraine. Putin says the responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian “regime.” Putin is warning other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen.”

He accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to stop Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees.

President Joe Biden has denounced what he is calling an "unprovoked and unjustified attack" on Ukraine and is pledging that the world will "hold Russia accountable."

Biden said he plans to speak to the American people Thursday after a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders. More sanctions against Russia are expected to be announced Thursday.

In a written statement, Biden added: “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.”