A man sits outside his destroyed building after bombings in the town of Chuguiv. Photo: ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images
World leaders are reacting to Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine – a decision he described as a “special operation” to “protect Donbas.”At 5AM this morning, explosions were heard in major Ukrainian cities as Russian forces bombed nearby military infrastructure.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a late-night address, vowing that Ukraine would defend itself and appealing to Russians to reject the attack. "Who can stop [the war]? People. These people are among you, I am sure,” he said.
Ukraine’s foreign minister called on the international community to urge their governments to act.USPresident Joe Biden said the “prayers of the world are with Ukraine” and that the US and its allies would respond in a united and decisive way."President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” he said. "Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring."The first tranche of US sanctions against Russia were announced on Tuesday, including targeting Russian banks and individuals close to the Kremlin as well as cutting off its sovereign debt.The US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said: “The action we took to cut off sovereign debt means that over time, Russia's economy will be starved for the resources they need to project power within the region and around the world.”EU
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyn, has said that the EU will freeze Russian assets. Russian banks will not be able to access European financial markets. New penalties will be presented this evening at an emergency summit of EU leaders. UK
Boris Johnson said in a televised statement on Thursday afternoon: "Our mission is clear; diplomatically, politically, economically, and eventually, military, this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure."
In the morning, he had said the UK “would not stand by as President Putin waged his campaign against the Ukrainian people.”On Wednesday Johnson announced that five banks had their assets frozen alongside three Russian billionaires who are now also banned from traveling.GermanyGerman Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: "The Russian attack on Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law. There is no justification for it. Germany condemns this reckless act by President Putin in the strongest possible terms. Our solidarity is with Ukraine and its people. “Russia must stop this military action immediately. Within the framework of the G-7, NATO and the EU, we will coordinate closely today. This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe."China China has refused to describe Russia’s attacks on Ukraine as an “invasion,” as Beijing avoided joining a global chorus of condemnation against its major security partner.Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Thursday called on “all parties to exercise restraint”, hours after Russia launched missiles on Ukraine.CanadaPrime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “Canada condemns – in the strongest possible terms – Russia’s egregious attack on Ukraine.”
Yesterday Trudeau announced that Canada will boost its support for the NATO Response Force.
Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland, alongside other allies, agreed to meet under NATO's Article 4 on Thursday morning.Under this Article, allies can hold a meeting whenever they feel the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any ally is threatened.In a statement, NATO said: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s horrifying attack on Ukraine, which is entirely unjustified and unprovoked.”Estonia’s Prime Minister tweeted: “We are with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people at this dark hour. We #StandWithUkraine.”HungaryPrime Minister Viktor Orban has condemned the invasion, saying: "With our EU and NATO allies, we condemn Russia's military attack.”This comes after Orban held a meeting with Putin in early February, where the Hungarian leader had pledged cooperation with Russia for years to come – a trip widely criticised by his EU allies.He said Hungary would stay out of any military conflict but would provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and was prepared to receive people fleeing Ukraine.