By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Explosions were heard even in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and other cities, suggesting that Russian forces had not only entered Ukraine’s east. Several people died in bombings, Ukrainian officials said.
It came hours after the emotional Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had not been able to reach by phone his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin who he said planned to attack with some 200,000 troops.
The conflict appeared to have global implications with Russian President Putin clearly warning the Western NATO military alliance that Moscow’s response will be “instant” if anyone tries to take on Russia.
Putin said he announced a “military operation” in Ukraine’s Donbas region and urged Ukrainian soldiers in eastern Ukraine to lay down weapons and return to their homes.
The crisis was closely followed in neighboring states who still remember decades of occupation by forces of the Russia-led Soviet Union.
They are now members of NATO, and thousands of U.S. forces are in the region to defend the alliance’s eastern flank. Hungary has already sent additional troops to its border with Ukraine.
Now a NATO member, Hungary still remembers the invasion of Soviet troops in 1956 when its revolution against Soviet domination was crushed. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has warned that the invasion could lead to hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge in Hungary.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the U.S.-led bloc stands with Ukraine at “this terrible time” and will do all it takes to defend all allies.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said an invasion “could be the beginning of a big war on the European continent.”
It appeared the worst standoff between nuclear superpowers the United States and Russia since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which was considered the closest the then Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.
U.S. President Joe Biden vowed that the world would hold Russia accountable, predicting a significant loss of life.
Biden was to address Americans on Thursday about the consequences he says Russia will face
In a late-night address to the nation, Ukrainian President Zelensky vowed “we will defend ourselves” in the event of an attack.
Ukraine entered a month-long state of emergency at midnight on Thursday local time after urging its estimated 3 million citizens to leave Russia.
Ukraine’s foreign minister accused Russia of starting a full-scale war and urged the United Nations “to do everything possible” to stop it.
But as the daylight broke above Europe’s new battlefields, it became increasingly clear that the U.N. may not be able to stop Europe’s largest armed conflict in recent history.