Russia launches 'full-scale invasion' of Ukraine

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Picture Tass/PA Images

Russia President Vladimir Putin. - Credit: Tass/PA Images

Russia President Vladimir Putin has confirmed plans for a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Having denied plans to invade Ukraine for months, on Thursday (February 24) Mr Putin announced a "special military operation" in the country's Donbas region.

Mr Putin announced the action during a televised address early on Thursday morning, saying the move was a response to threats from Ukraine.

He said Russia does not have a goal to occupy Ukraine, but the responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian “regime”.

Mr Putin also warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen”.

Mr Putin accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining Nato and offer Moscow security guarantees.

He said the Russian military operation aims to ensure a “demilitarisation” of Ukraine, adding that all Ukrainian servicemen who lay down arms will be able to safely leave the zone of combat.

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Explosions could be heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv shortly after Mr Putin’s address, while explosions were also reported in the cities of Odesa and Kharkiv.

Ukraine’s border guard agency said the Russian military attacked the country from neighbouring Belarus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin has “chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction” with his attack on Ukraine and that the UK and its allies would respond “decisively”.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the Prime Minister will chair a Cobra committee meeting at 7.30am to discuss the response to the “horrific attacks”.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr Johnson said he had spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss “next steps”.

“I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to President Zelenskyy to discuss next steps,” he said.

“President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

“The UK and our allies will respond decisively.”

Foreign secretary and Norfolk MP Liz Truss added on Twitter that she "strongly condemned the appalling, unprovoked attack on the people of Ukraine".

US President Joe Biden denounced Russia’s decision to conduct a military operation in Ukraine as an “unprovoked and unjustified attack”, declaring “the world will hold Russia accountable”.

Mr Biden said on Twitter: “President Zelenskyy reached out to me tonight and we just finished speaking. I condemned this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. I briefed him on the steps we are taking to rally international condemnation, including tonight at the UN Security Council.

“He asked me to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against President Putin’s flagrant aggression, and to stand with the people of Ukraine.

“Tomorrow, I will be meeting with the Leaders of the G7, and the United States and our Allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia. We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”

What does this mean for the region?

Firstly, today's shocking news will be of major concern to the many thousands of eastern Europeans who live in Norfolk.

Meanwhile, those families who have a loved ones in the RAF will also be following the news closely. 

We told two weeks ago how an aircraft carrier which carries Norfolk stealth fighters is on stand-by to sail within hours if tensions escalate further over Ukraine.

The 65,000-tonne Prince of Wales was appointed the command ship of Nato's Maritime High Readiness Force in January. The ship is currently moored at its home port of Portsmouth.

Mr Johnson announced that the carrier, which carries F-35 Lightning jets from RAF Marham, was on alert to be deployed in response to the ongoing crisis in eastern Europe as part of a wider UK military contribution to support Ukraine.

An invasion is also likely to impact people's everyday lives and we've already seen rising petrol prices as a result of potential impact on the supply chain worldwide. 

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: "The oil price is rising due to tensions between Russia - the world's third-biggest oil producer - and Ukraine, along with oil production remaining out of kilter with demand as the world emerges from the pandemic.

"As a result, drivers in the UK could be in for an even worse ride as pump prices look certain to go up even more."

The cost of other products could also be impacted.

We shouldn't also forget that one Norfolk MP, namely South West Norfolk's Liz Truss has a major part of play in what happens next in her role as foreign secretary.