Russia-Ukraine War: Defiant Putin warns US, NATO… Reminiscence of Iraq, Libya Invasions
Reading news of Russian military operations in Ukraine evoke memories of the horrific killings of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and that of Iraq Saddam Hussein after invasions by foreign forces at different periods which escalated factional violence and massive destructions.
PRNigeria reports that after the 2003 U.S. invasion that ended Sadam’s rule, and NATO-backed rebels that overran Libya in 2011, the two countries became ‘sorry states’ as they descended into vicious slaughter slabs when sectarian violence killed thousands of people and destructions of infrastructures worth billions of dollars.
It is no more news as the Russian President, Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”
Immediately after the announcement, Russian troops launched their attack on Ukraine on Thursday, as Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions and threatened other countries that may attempt to interfere.
The invasion is a reminiscence of the invasion of Iraq on 19 March 2003 by the American airforce and 20 March 2003 by the ground troops including 26 days of major combat operations, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq.
In 2003, a coalition led by the United States invaded Iraq to depose Saddam. American President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair erroneously accused Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction and having ties to Al-Qaeda.
Similarly, on 19 March 2011, a multi-state NATO-led coalition began a military intervention in Libya in response to events during the First Libyan Civil War. American and British naval forces fired over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, while the French Air Force, British Royal Air Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force undertook sorties across Libya and a naval blockade by Coalition forces. French jets also launched airstrikes against Libyan Army tanks and vehicles. The intervention did not employ foreign ground troops in the destruction of once a beautiful and stable nation in Africa.
The current Russia-Ukraine conflict which began in 2021 after the Russian military buildup on the border of Ukraine escalated tensions between the two countries and strained bilateral relations, with the United States sending a strong message that invasion would be met with dire consequences for Russia’s economy.
On Thursday, February 24, 2022, international media have reported that big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa, as Ukrainians started fleeing some cities, and the Russian military claimed to have incapacitated all of Ukraine’s air defences and air bases within hours.
The world leaders decried the start of a Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared martial law, saying Russia has targeted Ukraine’s military infrastructure.
Ukrainians who had long braced for the prospect of an assault, while never knowing precisely when it would come, were urged to stay home and not to panic even as the country’s border guard agency reported an artillery barrage by Russian troops from neighbouring Belarus.
President Joe Biden pledged new sanctions to punish Russia for the aggression that the international community had expected for weeks but could not prevent through diplomacy.
Putin justified the invasion in a televised address, asserting that the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine. He accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and for security guarantees. He also claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarize” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice.
Biden in a written statement condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack,” and he promised that the U.S. and its allies would “hold Russia accountable.” The president said he planned to speak to Americans on Thursday after a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders. More sanctions against Russia were expected to be announced Thursday.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the assault as a “full-scale invasion” and said Ukraine will “defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”
In the capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko advised residents to stay home unless they are involved in critical work and urged them to prepare go-bags with necessities and documents if they need to evacuate. An Associated Press photographer in Mariupol reported hearing explosions and seeing dozens of people with suitcases heading for their cars to leave the city.
The Russian claims about knocking out Ukrainian air defenses and Ukrainian claims to have shot down several Russian aircraft could not immediately be verified. The Ukrainian air defense system and air force date back to the Soviet era and are dwarfed by Russia’s massive air power and its inventory of precision weapons.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it was not targeting cities, but using precision weapons and claimed that “there is no threat to civilian population.”
Anticipating international condemnation and countermeasures, Putin issued a stark warning to other countries not to meddle, saying, “whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history.”
Putin urged Ukrainian servicemen to “immediately put down arms and go home.”
In a stark reminder of Russia’s nuclear power, Putin warned that “no one should have any doubts that a direct attack on our country will lead to the destruction and horrible consequences for any potential aggressor.” He emphasized that Russia is “one of the most potent nuclear powers and also has a certain edge in a range of state-of-the-art weapons.”
Though the U.S. on Tuesday announced the repositioning of forces around the Baltics, Biden has said he will not send in troops to fight Russia.
Putin’s announcement came just hours after the Ukrainian president rejected Moscow’s claims that his country poses a threat to Russia and made a passionate, last-minute plea for peace.
“The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,” Zelenskyy said in an emotional overnight address, speaking in Russian in a direct appeal to Russian citizens. “But if we come under attack, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs.”
Zelenskyy said he asked to arrange a call with Putin late Wednesday, but the Kremlin did not respond.
In an apparent reference to Putin’s move to authorize the deployment of the Russian military to “maintain peace” in eastern Ukraine, Zelensky warned that “this step could mark the start of a big war on the European continent.”
“Any provocation, any spark could trigger a blaze that will destroy everything,” he said.
Would the fate of Ukraine become another sorry states of Iraq and Libya after the invansion of their terrories by foreign forces?
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