As Russian troops were moving into eastern Ukraine just before the crack of dawn on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a televised address to the Russian people via state television, and vowed to “demilitarise” and “denazify” the eastern European country.

Putin said that the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, which Russia officially recognised as independent states a couple of days back, had “turned to Russia with a request for help.” To come to their aid, Russia had launched a “special military operation,” the 69-year-old said.

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“Our actions are self-defense against threats. We do not plan to impose ourselves on anyone,” Putin went on, accusing the Ukrainian government of mounting a “genocide” against the people in Donbas region, who have been backed by Russia since its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

NATO supports Ukrainian neo-Nazis … our actions are self-defense against threats,” the 69-year-old reiterated, mounting a direct verbal attack against the US and its allies.

Having addressed Russian citizens, Putin went on to directly address the Ukrainian military.

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“Dear comrades,” Putin began as he addressed Ukrainians, and asked Ukrainian service members to remember their “oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people, and not to the anti-people junta that is robbing Ukraine and abuses those same people.”

“Don’t follow its [the Ukraine government’s] criminal orders! I urge you to lay down your weapons and go home,” the 69-year-old said, urging Ukrainians to avoid further bloodshed.

The Russian President ended his address on a defiant note, saying, “Whoever tries to interfere with us, and even more so, to create threats for our country, for our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences that you have never experienced in your history.”

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“We are ready for any development of events. All necessary decisions in this regard have been made,” he concluded.

Since Russia marched its troops into Ukraine, casualties have been reported on both sides, with Ukraine claiming it shot down several Russian aircraft and killed dozens of Russian soldiers.