War in Europe: World leaders react to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Western world leaders have been united in their condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine this morning, with Nato countries preparing to implement a tough package of sanctions against Russia.
Boris Johnson this morning said Putin’s invasion was a “a catastrophe for our continent”, with the Prime Minister set to make an address at midday today, and 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.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz called for Russia to stop its attack immediately and said it was a “terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky imposed martial law this morning as he announced his country was under attack and that the Kremlin had pursued the “path of evil”.
Zelensky also said he would “give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country”, while urging major western nations to hit Russia with “immediate sanctions” and provide more “defense and financial support” to Ukraine.
The UK, US and EU will today bring forward tougher economic sanctions, with some calling for Russia to be completely blocked out of the global financial system.
This would include things like barring businesses from using the Swift international payments system, stopping Russian firms from raising in capital in major markets and banning the issuance of Russian sovereign debt.
Asian markets plummeted this morning after Russia’s invasion, with the UK’s FTSE 250 also down almost three per cent today.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for Johnson to implement the “hardest possible sanctions” to all those linked to Putin.
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, including the capital Kyiv, 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.”