In a speech Wednesday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he has green lit military operations in Ukraine. "I’ve made the decision to conduct a special military operation. Our analysis has concluded that our confrontation with these [Ukrainian] forces in inevitable."
Putin added a warning for the US and NATO allies, "A couple of words for those who would be tempted to intervene. Russia will respond immediately, and you will have consequences that you never have had before in your history." The Russian Preisdent also called America "...an empire of lies" during his remarks stating that the "USA wants to destroy our family values."
Putin also claimed during the address that the operation was protect Donbas, the pro-Moscow separatist-held region in eastern Ukraine and said that "All Ukrainian servicemen who lay down their arms will be able to return to their families." He added in addressing Ukrainian armed forces "Your ancestors fought the Nazis, don't obey the orders of the Nazi Junta in Kyiv."
According to the Associated Press, the airspace over Ukraine has been shut down to civilian air traffic and an Israeli El Al Boeing 787 from Tel Aviv to Toronto "…turned abruptly out of Ukrainian airspace before detouring over Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland."
Before Putin’s address, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Russian President during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to "...give peace a chance" and not send Russian troops against Ukraine.
Guterres had previously said that he was "...convinced that nothing serious would happen," and never believed rumors that Russia would invade Ukraine. He admitted during his speech Wednesday, "I was wrong, and I like not to be wrong again. So if indeed an operation is being prepared I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart: Stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died."
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with the Russian people to stop their leadership from sending troops across the border into his country during an emotional video appeal.
"You are being told this is a plan to free the people of Ukraine. But the Ukrainian people are free."
Zelensky, who is Jewish added, "The Ukraine on your news and Ukraine in real life are two completely different countries — and the main difference is ours is real. You are told that we are Nazis. How could a people that lost more than 8 million people in the fight against Nazism support Nazism?"
"How could I be a Nazi?" he added.
US President Joe Biden tweeted Wednesday night in response to Putin's actions, "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."
This is a developing story.