The Ukrainian president appeared more somber as he made a desperate plea late Thursday night in Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy telegraphed that things were rapidly changing. He said President Putin wouldn't take his phone call. Zelenskyy tried to appeal directly to the Russian people to stop the looming invasion.
Just hours earlier, Newsy confirmed the United States had given the Ukrainian government detailed intelligence, indicating the long-feared invasion was imminent.
Nearly 200,000 Russian troops were surrounding Ukraine on three sides, ready to pounce.
But President Putin had already decided to act. He told Russia he ordered a military operation inside Ukraine. Notably, he was wearing the same suit and tie as he was last seen in on Monday, perhaps indicating he had been waiting to begin the long-planned attack and that the invasion was just a matter of time, exactly as the United States and Western intelligence had been predicting.
At about the same time in New York, the U.N. secretary general opened an emergency meeting of the Security Council, begging Putin to call it off.
"President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine," Secretary General Antonio Guterres said. "Give peace a chance."
The Ukrainian ambassador then sparred with Russia's ambassador, ironically sitting as president of the U.N. Security Council.
"The Russian president declared war on the record," Ukrainian ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said. "Should I play the video of your president, ambassador? Shall I do that right now? Or you can confirm it? Do not interrupt me please, thank you."
Vasily Nebenzya, Russian ambassador to the U.N., responded: "Then don't ask me questions. When you are speaking, proceed with your statement."
"There is no purgatory for war criminals," Kyslytsya said. "They go straight to hell, ambassador."
At 6 a.m. Moscow time, the assault began. There were air strikes in Ukraine's biggest cities, targeting military posts and weapons warehouses, plus ports and airbases. And ground forces began moving in.
Within minutes, President Biden released a written statement calling Russia's attack "unprovoked and unjustified."
He pledged the world would "hold Russia accountable."
"Russia has attacked Ukraine. This is a brutal act of war," "We now have war in Europe on the scale and of a type we thought belonged to history."
The widest, bloodiest, most significant battle in Europe since the second World War was now underway with no clear end game in sight.