Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech on Thursday morning announcing a military attack on Ukraine.
"Citizens of Russia, dear friends!" Putin addressed television audiences, before explaining his reasons for a military operation after what he called the "tragic events" in eastern Ukraine.
Excerpts are given below:
"This is about [...] fundamental threats from year to year, step by step, flagrantly and unceremoniously created by reckless politicians in the West in respect of our country. I mean the expansion of NATO to the east, the approach of its military infrastructure to our borders."
"It is well known that we consistently and patiently attempted for 30 years to agree with leading NATO countries on principles of equal and indivisible security in Europe. We constantly faced either cynical deceit and lies or attempts to apply pressure and blackmail in response to our proposals."
'They screwed us'
"In this row is the promise to our country not to expand NATO by one inch to the east. I repeat: they deceived us. And to put it simply, they just screwed us."
"The American politicians, political scientists and journalists are writing and saying that inside the United States a real empire of lies was created. It’s difficult not to agree with it, this is what it is."
"As far as the military sphere is concerned, modern Russia is one of the strongest nuclear powers now even after disintegration of the Soviet Union and loss of a considerable portion of its nuclear potential. Furthermore, it has certain advantages in the line of state-of-the-art kinds of weapons. In this regard, nobody should have doubts that a direct attack against Russia will lead to a defeat and devastating consequences for a potential aggressor."
"The problem is that on our neighbouring territories - and I will note that these are historically our own territories - a hostile to us Anti-Russia is being created which has been brought under complete external control. [It] is being intensively colonized by the armed forces of NATO countries and is being pumped up with the most modern weapons."
'A matter of life and death for Russia'
"And for our country in the end this is a matter of life and death, the issue of our historic future as a nation, and this is not an exaggeration, this is precisely what it is. This is a real threat not just to our interests, but to the very existence of our state and its sovereignty. This is precisely that red line that I had repeatedly mentioned. They crossed it."
"The people’s republics of Donbass approached Russia with a request for help. In connection therewith [...] I made the decision to hold a special military operation. Its goal is to protect the people that are subjected to abuse, genocide from the Kiev regime for eight years, and to this end we will seek to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine and put to justice those that committed numerous bloody crimes against peaceful people, including Russian nationals."
"Whoever tries to interfere with us or, moreover, to create threats to our country, to our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences that you have never encountered in your history. We are ready for any turn of events, all the necessary decisions in relation to this were made. I hope that I will be heard."