World leaders have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “barbaric” and quickly slapped heavy sanctions on the Russian economy, President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and many of the country’s oligarchs.
U.S. President Joe Biden said Putin started the war, and “now he and his country will bear the consequences.” In near-unison, the United States, the 27-nation European Union and other Western allies have announced a round of punitive measures against Russian banks and leading companies and imposed export controls aimed at starving the Kremlin’s industries and military of semiconductors and other high-tech products.
Leaders of Western countries are denouncing Russia's decision to launch a broad military assault on Ukraine from three sides. The attack began before dawn with explosions in the capital Kyiv and other cities.
Ukraine’s leadership said at least 40 people have been killed so far in what they called a “full-scale war” targeting the country from the east, north and south. Ukrainians started fleeing some cities, and the Russian military claimed to have incapacitated all of Ukraine’s air defenses and air bases within hours.
In a televised address as the attack began, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would “lead to consequences you have never seen in history.”
Upon the attack, Ukraine's foreign ministry began taking steps to sever diplomatic ties with Russia, CNN reports.
"Our state took such a step in response to the act of armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the invasion of Russian troops to destroy the Ukrainian state, the seizure of Ukrainian territory by force and the establishment of occupation control,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
NATO has agreed to beef up its land, sea and air forces on its eastern flank near Ukraine and Russia, and officials said that “we have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies.”
"Russia has attacked Ukraine. This is a brutal act of war. Our thoughts are with the brave people of Ukraine," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
told reporters Thursday. “Peace in our continent has been shattered. We now have war in Europe, on a scale and of a type we thought belong to history."
Leaders of NATO ally countries have denounced the invasion Thursday morning. The Associated Press reports that Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has condemned Russia’s “reprehensible” attack on Ukraine and said that Putin “threatens the peace of the entire planet.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the attack a “dark day for Europe” and expressed his country’s “full solidarity with Kyiv.” He promised further sanctions, adding that “Putin has made a serious mistake with his war."
French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country "firmly condemns Russia’s decision to wage war” and called on Russia to "end its military operations immediately."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and offered support.
“The Prime Minister said the West would not stand by as President Putin waged his campaign against the Ukrainian people,” Johnson’s office said in the statement.
On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida promised to work closely with the U.S. and other G7 countries in condemning the Russian invasion.
"The Russian attack shakes the foundation of international order that never tolerates unilateral change to the status quo by force, and we strongly condemn Russia," he told reporters, according to Kyodo News.
The comments marked a stark change in policy for the island nation.
For years, previous Japanese administration had sought to improve diplomatic relations with Russia, a northern neighbor across the Sea of Japan. In addition to seeking long-standing territorial disputes with Russia, it also hoped to improve relations with China, which has aligned itself with Russia.