Putin Announces Russia Will Conduct Military Operation In Eastern Ukraine

By Jason Hall

February 24, 2022

A convoy of Russian military vehicles moving towards border in Donbas region
Photo: Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country will conduct military operations in Eastern Ukraine during an NBC News translation of a speech addressing the Russian population prior to sunrise early Thursday (February 24) morning in Moscow.

The announcement appeared to serve as the final action ahead of an attack by Putin and the Russian military, which the U.S. and European allies to the neighboring Ukraine have attempted to prevent from taking place through diplomatic discussions.

A Ukraine interior minister confirmed to NBC News via text message that "cruise and ballistic missile strikes" were already underway shortly after Putin's announcement.

NBC News correspondent Erin McLaughlin said explosions could be heard from her live shot in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city, at 6:00 a.m. local time.

President Joe Biden condemned Putin's actions, stating that he had "chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering" following the announcement.

"The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces," Biden said in a White House statement issued late Wednesday (February 23) evening local time. "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."

Putin criticized the U.S. and its allies during his announcement, claiming, “everything is clear, the U.S. doesn’t seek to negotiate with Russia... so what do we do next? Why wait?”

“This is a matter of live or death," Putin said via NBC News. "It’s a threat against the existence of the Russian people."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the country was prepared to defend itself against Russian attacks and referred to Putin's decision to conduct a military operation as "a war of aggression," NBC News' Alana Satlin reported.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement condemning "Russia's reckless and unprovoked attack" and a "serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security" after reports of booms and explosions heard in Kyiv early Thursday morning.

"Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country," Stoltenberg said in a statement obtained by NBC News.

"NATO Allies will meet to address the consequences of Russia’s aggressive actions," he added, calling for Russia to cease military action in Ukraine. "We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend all Allies." 

The attacks come after reports of more than 100,000 Russian military troops being present on three sides of the neighboring Ukraine, according to the Associated Press.

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