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Explosions Reported in Kyiv as Putin says Russia is Launching an Attack on Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an early Thursday morning address in Moscow, announced that Russia would launch a military action in Ukraine. NBC News reported that explosions were heard in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

The United Nations Security Council had just convened an emergency meeting Wednesday night.

Earlier, European and U.S. officials scrambled to penalize Russia on Wednesday, responding to its deployments of troops to eastern Ukraine with a cascade of economic sanctions.

As concerns grew that Russian aggression would escalate, Ukraine warned its citizens to avoid traveling to Russia and to leave the country immediately if they are already there.

The move came after Putin said Wednesday that Moscow is “always open” to diplomacy, days after ordering troops into eastern Ukraine and recognizing the independence of two self-declared republics in the region.

The European Union was set to hold an emergency emergency meeting on Thursday, and was reportedly considering another round of sanctions on Russian individuals. Officials from the United Kingdom and United States also announced or threatened more retaliatory measures after they unveiled initial tranches this week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a public address that aired early Thursday morning in Moscow that he had authorized a military operation in Ukraine.

The announcement was broadcast shortly after 5:30 a.m. local time, precisely at the same time as the United Nations Security Council was meeting in New York, and member state representatives were openly pleading with Putin not to attack.

Putin claimed that Russia’s goal was not to occupy Ukraine, but merely protect residents of eastern Ukraine from what he called a “regime.”

Putin claimed the goal of the attack, for which he has positioned 190,000 Russian soldiers along Ukraine’s border was the “demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine,” according to a Reuters translation.

Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen,” according to Reuters.

Within minutes after Putin announced that action, the NBC News team in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv reported hearing explosions in the city.

A CNN team stationed in Kharkiv, a Ukrainian city closer to the Russian border, also reported hearing artillery.

U.S. President Joe Biden is closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine with his national security advisor, the White House said Wednesday.

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