The Russian troops began a special military operation to defend the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday.
"In compliance with a decision by Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Vladimir Putin, the Russian troops launched a special military operation on February 24 to defend the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics," the spokesman said.
On the morning of February 24, after continued battles to repel the Ukrainian army’s aggression, the DPR and LPR people’s militias carried out mobilization and set up groups of forces on their territories, he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address on Thursday morning that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories.
Russia’s Defense Ministry reported later on Thursday that Russian troops were not delivering strikes against Ukrainian cities. It emphasized that Ukrainian military infrastructure was being destroyed by precision weapons.
Civilians are not threatened, it assured.