As the West prepared to cut off Russia financially, Vladimir Putin summoned his oligarchs to demand loyalty over his attack on Ukraine -- perhaps fearing a rebellion from within after prominent Russian TV figures and celebrities spoke out to oppose the conflict, Daily Mail reported.
Speaking in the Kremlin, he said that Russia had been 'forced' to take action over Ukraine and had 'no other choice' but to attack, saying the country remains 'part of the global economy' and that he 'will not hurt the system we belong to'.
"I want you to show solidarity with the government," he told them, the report said. It came after Vladimir Putin personally gave the order to attack around 5 a.m. on Thursday, unleashing a salvo of rocket fire that American intelligence said involved more than 100 short and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles, and 75 bombers that targeted military sites including barracks, warehouses and airfields in order to knock out the country's military command structure.
Russia said the strikes destroyed 74 Ukrainian military ground facilities, 11 airfields, three command posts and 18 radar stations controlling Kyiv's anti-aircraft batteries, the report said. American officials said this was merely an 'initial phase' of the attack, and that the majority of Russia's 1,90,000 troops at the front remain in reserve.
The goal of the attack is to 'take key population centres' and 'decapitate the Ukrainian government', the officials added, Daily Mail reported.