LUGANSK, February 24. /TASS/. Ukrainian soldiers have been leaving forward positions along the engagement line on the massive scale, the spokesman of the Lugansk republic’s militia, Ivan Filiponenko, said in a statement.
"According to our intelligence, the Ukrainian army’s servicemen have been refusing to obey orders on the massive scale and leaving forward positions," he said on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday morning said in a televised address he had made a decision to hold a special military operation in response to a message from the leaders of the Donbass republics. The Russian leader stated that Moscow had no plans for an occupation of Ukrainian territories.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that its forces were not attacking Ukrainian cities: its smart weapons were eliminating military infrastructure facilities. The civilian population is not in danger, the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.