Boris Johnson has vowed that Vladimir Putin’s “hideous and barbaric” venture into Ukraine must “end in failure” as he pledged that the UK will “always defend” the right of Ukrainians to be a sovereign nation.
Speaking to the nation at midday today, Johnson said the UK and its western allies would “agree a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy”.
The Ministry of Defence believes there have been around 80 Rusian missile strikes on Ukraine, including in the capital of Kyiv, with troops advancing from several different directions.
Western officials believe that Russian special forces will now be widespread in Ukraine in a bid to soften Ukrainian resistance and potentially target individuals.
“President Putin of Russia has unleashed war in our European continent. He has attacked a friendly country without any provocation and without any credible excuse,” Johnson said.
“Innumerable missiles and bombs have been raining down on an entirely innocent population. A vast invasion is underway by land by sea and by air. And this is not in the infamous phrase some faraway country of which we know little.
“We have Ukrainian friends in this country- neighbours, co-workers. Ukraine is a country that for decades has enjoyed freedom and democracy and the right to choose its own destiny. We – and the world – cannot allow that freedom just to be snuffed out. We cannot and will not just look away.”
He added: “Our mission is clear. Diplomatically, politically, economically – and eventually, militarily – this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure.”
A Number 10 spokesperson clarified after the speech that the UK will not be intervening militarily and that the PM was referring to Ukrainian efforts to defend itself.
Western world leaders have been united in their condemnation of Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine this morning, with Nato countries preparing to implement a tough package of sanctions against Russia.
US President Joe Biden said Russia has “chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering”.
“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable,” he said.
Ukraine came under attack just after 4am GMT, only minutes after Putin delivered a declaration of war on Russian television.
The Russian President falsely claimed that Ukraine was under the yoke of a “junta” and that he would oversee the “de-militarization and de-Nazification” of the country in a “military operation”.
Bombings of cities across the country – such as in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol – were reported directly after the chilling address.
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Putin’s actions were a part of a “deliberate, cold-blooded and long-planned invasion”.
“We now have war in Europe on a scale and of a type we thought belonged to history,” he said.
“This is a grave moment for the security of Europe.”