Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “military operation” in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
He made the declaration in a televised speech at the same time as the UN Security Council was imploring him to stop.
In a televised address on Thursday morning, Putin urges Ukrainian soldiers in the combat zone in eastern Ukraine to lay down weapons and return to their homes.
He warned Ukraine that it would be blamed for any bloodshed.
Putin also says “justice and truth” are on the Russian side, warning that Moscow’s response will be “instant” if anyone tries to take on Russia.
Putin said in a television announcement shortly before 6:00 am (0300 GMT) in Moscow:
“I have made the decision of a military operation…
“Whoever would try to stop us and further create threats, to our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and lead you to such consequences that you have never faced in your history.”