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Russia’s Assault on Ukraine Has Begun: How Far Will Putin Go?

Russia's MiG-29 fighter. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Russia's MiG-29 fighter. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Begins: For months Russia has stated that it had no intention of invading Ukraine, calling Western alarms of such an action, “hysteria” all the while, their forces were massing around Ukraine on three sides. On Thursday morning, those fears were realized as Russian air, ground, and naval forces stormed into Ukraine. 

Russian missiles rained down on Kyiv, Kharkiv, and other major cities as just before dawn, Russian troops attacked in a general invasion and not a localized attack in the eastern part of the country. Leaked video coming out of the country showed Russian troops setting up roadblocks in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which would be the deepest penetration thus far. 

Other Russian operations have attacked the Luhansk, Chernihiv regions while other forces were coming in from the sea at the port cities of Odesa and Mariupol in the south. Citizens were fleeing Kyiv in a massive track jam heading west to escape the fighting and adding to the confusion and chaos. 

Putin Calls Invasion a “Self-Defense Mission: 

Russian President Vladimir Putin took to television to address the Russian people as well as the Ukrainians stating that Russia was undertaking a “Special Military Operation to demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine. 

As Russian missiles were raining down all over Ukraine, Putin claimed that the Russian invasion was strictly a “self-defense” operation and that Russia had no plans to occupy Ukraine. “We do not plan to impose ourselves on anyone,” he said in an ironic twist. 

He continued with the false allegation that Russian-speaking people were suffering “genocide” at the hands of the Ukrainians in Donetsk and Luhansk. 

In an appeal directly to Ukraine’s troops, Putin addressed them as “dear comrades”, adding that they had taken an “oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people, and not to the anti-people junta that is robbing Ukraine and abuses those same people.”

“Don’t follow its criminal orders!” he demanded. “I urge you to lay down your weapons and go home.”

He then turned his comments to the United States and NATO, threatening them with typical Putin-esque bombast. 

“Whoever tries to interfere with us, and even more so, to create threats for our country, for our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences that you have never experienced in your history.

“We are ready for any development of events. All necessary decisions in this regard have been made.”

“I hope that I’ve been heard.” 

EU High Representative Josep Borrell characterized the Russian invasion as the worst day in 80 years as the fighting rages on. These are among the darkest hours for Europe since the end of World War II,”

Fighting Rages While Civilians Flee or Hunker Down: 

As Russian armored forces roll into Ukraine from three sides, Russia claims to have wiped out Ukrainian air defenses in the opening hours of the invasion. They also hit major military command and control headquarters with rocket fire in the early hours before dawn.

However, Ukrainian military sources claim that they have shot down six Russian aircraft and a helicopter, something the Russians have denied. They also claimed to have destroyed four Russian tanks and killed 50 troops on the road heading into Kharkiv. The Russians have denied this, while Russian-proxy separatists in the east claimed to have shot down two Russian planes. 

Exact casualties are unknown but early reports from Ukrainian authorities said that they’ve suffered 40 troops and 10 civilians killed in the fighting. Those numbers are bound to increase as more reports roll in.  

The Russian navy has closed all shipping in the Sea of Azov, as they control the strait that connects the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Odesa to the Black Sea

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky cut diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial law, saying Russia has targeted Ukraine’s military infrastructure.

“The Ukrainian military is waging hard battles, repelling attacks in Donbas and other regions in the east, north, and south,” Zelensky said at a press briefing. 

Biden to Address the US Thursday Morning: 

President Joe Biden is scheduled to address the nation, sometime on Thursday morning but released a statement on the Russian invasion, that he has repeatedly stated was imminent. 

“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said in a released statement after the Russians invaded Ukraine.

The president also spoke with Prime Minister Zelensky and the White House statement added, “He (Zelensky) 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.”

Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, refused to condemn Russia’s invasion and even bristled at the word, saying that China did not describe the attack as an “invasion,” calling that term “preconceived wording.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese opened the doors for all of Russia’s wheat to flow into the PRC, as before it was only allowed from certain areas. Chinese leader Xi Jinping described China’s friendship with Russia as having “no limits”. Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for, he has covered the NFL for for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.

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Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 1945, he covers the NFL for and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.