Russia Attacks Ukraine As Explosions Heard In Kyiv And Other Cities; Joe Biden Says “Severe Sanctions” Will Be Imposed — Update

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he was launching a “special military operation” to the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine, as networks mobilized with special reports on Wednesday evening to report on what may be the start of a large-scale invasion.

Shortly after Putin’s early morning speech, just after 7 PM PT, CNN’s Matthew Chance in Kyiv, told anchor Don Lemon that “there are big explosions taking place in Kyiv right now,” and the correspondent then put on a flak jacket and helmet as he was on air. CNN’s Clarissa Ward, reporting from Kharkiv, then also appeared and reported hearing blasts in that city.

ABC, CBS and NBC each interrupted regular programming with special reports.

“We have been bracing for this, we have been waiting for this potential day to come,” NBC News’ Richard Engel said.

Throughout Wednesday evening, as Russian military action looked imminent, CNN focused on the possibility of an immediate invasion, and MSNBC and Fox News began shifted focus from opinion hosts to the latest developments. Networks also prepared to cover the Ukraine crisis overnight, with Fox News planning to pre-empt Gutfeld! for coverage anchored by Shannon Bream and then Trace Gallagher.

Putin’s announcement in an early morning televised speech came at the same time that the United Nations Security Council was holding an emergency meeting, with portions captured by cable news networks. The Russian president said that Ukrainian soldiers should lay down their arms, although he insisted that the Russians did not intend to occupy the country.

In response to Putin’s speech, President Joe Biden said in a statement, “President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.”

Biden added, “I will meet with my G7 counterparts in the morning and then speak to the American people to announce the further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security.”

More to come.

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