“One upon a time, there was a bear sleeping in his lair and minding his business. One day, a small group of rodents decided to have some fun time pestering the bear. So they began running around, making a lot of noise (some even dared the bear to come out and fight them) and even threw colorful little pebbles at the bear. The bear mostly ignored them hoping they would eventually tire from that silly behavior and go away. But the rodents not only stayed, they began pelting the bear with even more pebbles and, sure enough, what had to happen happened: one pebble (with “ridiculous genocide claim” written on it) landed right on the eyelid of the bear and that *really* pissed the bear off. He finally got up, moved to the entrance of his lair and looked at the scurrying rodents. The bear wondered, what shall he do with these little rodents next? The rodents wondered about the same thing. And so they told the bear that if he dares leave his lair, they will pelt him with even more pebbles, so he better not move. What do you think the bear will do next?”
Putin announces ‘special operation’ in Donbass
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced he ordered his country’s military to conduct a special operation in the Donbass region after the leaders of the breakaway republics asked Moscow for military assistance in response to what they claim is an increase in “Ukrainian aggression.”
“Circumstances require us to take decisive and immediate action,” the order reads. “The People’s Republics of Donbass turned to Russia with a request for help. In this regard, in accordance with Article 51, part 7 of the UN Charter, with the sanction of the Federation Council and in pursuance of the friendship treaties ratified by the Federal Assembly and mutual assistance with the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, I have decided to conduct a special military operation,” Putin concludes.
The decision comes days after Moscow recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk breakaway republics in the Donbass, alleging Kiev had not lived up to its obligations under the Minsk agreements struck in 2014 and 2015 to resolve conflict between separatists and the Ukrainian government.
Officials later authorized what they describe as a “peacekeeping operation” in the region. Western leaders for months had predicted a looming incursion, claiming Russia has amassed troops near its border with Ukraine and in neighboring Belarus, where Moscow has conducted joint drills in recent weeks.
Russia denied plans for an attack, however, and maintains its actions in the Donbass will be defensive in nature. The United States and its European partners have already imposed sanctions on a series of Russian financial institutions, officials and lawmakers following the recognition of the break-away states, vowing to bring more penalties should Moscow “further invade” Ukraine.
DETAILS TO FOLLOW
Ukrainian president says he called Kremlin
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to Russian citizens against a war in Donbass in a televised speech shortly after midnight on Thursday. Zelensky claimed he had tried calling Russian President Vladimir Putin but received no response.
“Today I initiated a call with the president of the Russian Federation. The result was silence. But silence ought to be in the Donbass,” Zelensky said.
Starting his speech in Ukrainian but completing most of it in Russian, Zelensky insisted he was trying to get a message across to the ordinary citizens of Russia. Zelensky claimed that Ukraine is not, was not, and never will be a threat to Russians, but only wants the right to self-determination and security for itself.
“We don’t need war, whether cold or hot or hybrid. But if an army comes at us, if they try to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves,” he said.
On Wednesday, Zelensky called up 36,000 reservists to the armed forces and declared a 30-day state of emergency in all of Ukraine, starting February 24. The emergency did not extend to the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk under Ukrainian military control, which have been under a special regime since 2014.
Ukraine has also requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council after the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) formally invoked their treaties with Moscow to request Russian military assistance against “aggression by the Kiev regime.” Their leaders said that the Ukrainian military has stepped up artillery bombardment and attacks on civilian infrastructure. Kiev has been denying it had ordered an offensive, accusing the DPR and LPR of staging “false flag” attacks.
Moscow says it has recognized the breakaway republics’ independence due to the imminent threat of a full-blown attack, claiming that it was the only option left after Kiev had “killed” the Minsk ceasefire agreements. Russia’s envoy to the UN Vassily Nebenzia told the General Assembly on Wednesday that once Russian peacekeepers are deployed to the two republics they will not be lenient with violators of the ceasefire.