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War in Ukraine: 'Darkest Hours of Europe Since World War II'; Who Said What on Russian Invasion

By: News Desk


Last Updated: February 24, 2022, 22:08 IST

Russia on Thursday launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II. (Image: Reuters)

Russia on Thursday launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II. (Image: Reuters)

US President Joe Biden called Russia’s attack on Ukraine ‘unprovoked and unjustified’, with EU promising 'never seen before' sanctions. China stood behind Putin rejecting descriptions of invasion.

Even as Russia launched a full-blown attack on Ukraine by land, sea and air on Thursday, world leaders expressed raw outrage in condemning Vladimir Putin’s attack on his neighbouring country.

The European Union and others have promised unprecedented sanctions against Russia. India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar also reached out to the EU and discussed the “grave situation” and possible “de-escalation efforts”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also likely to speak to Putin later in the night, sources said.

None of the countries condemning the attack, however, promised to move in militarily and defend Ukraine as it could touch off a major European war. Putin has warned that interference will lead to consequences “never seen in history”.

While Ukrainian President Volodymur Zelenskiy said Putin’s aim was to destroy his state, the Russian president described his country’s act as “a special military operation” to protect people, including Russian citizens subjected to “genocide” in Ukraine.


United States, which had issued a warning about the attack weeks ago, said the attack was “unprovoked and unjustified”, while China stood behind its Russian friend and rejected descriptions of invasion. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, meanwhile, is in Russia for two days for his first visit.

Here’s how world leaders reacted to the war crisis in Ukraine, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II:

United States: US President Joe Biden said his prayers were with Ukrainians “as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack”, while promising tough sanctions in response. He would be meeting with G7 leaders, he said.

“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,” Biden told Zelenskiy by telephone.

NATO: Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO allies will meet to tackle the consequences of Russia’s “reckless and unprovoked attack”. He added Stoltenberg said that peace on the continent has been shattered.

China: Having signed a friendship treaty with Russia three weeks ago, the country reiterated a call for all parties to exercise restraint and rejected a description of Russia’s action as an invasion.

Foreign minister Wang Yi told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in a phone call that China understands “Russia’s reasonable concerns on security issues”, China’s foreign ministry said.

European Union: Foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell promised the toughest financial sanctions the bloc had ever imposed. “These are among the darkest hours of Europe since the Second World War,” he said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it a barbaric attack on an independent nation that also targeted the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order. Von der Leyen said that its President Putin whos bringing war back to Europe

United Nations: Secretary-general Antonio Guterres, speaking after the security council meeting, made a last-minute plea to Putin to stop the war “in the name of humanity”.

“Do not allow to start in Europe what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century,” he said, adding, “the conflict must stop now.” He said it was the “saddest day” of his tenure.

United Kingdom: “I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to President Zelensky to discuss next steps,” the British leader tweeted.

In an address to the nation, Johnson later called Putin a “dictator” facing “massive” sanctions for his “attack on democracy and freedom in east Europe and around the world”.

Germany: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz lashed out at an “unscrupulous act” and spoke to Zelensky to express his country’s “full solidarity”.

Putin is “endangering the lives of countless innocent people in Ukraine… (and) jeopardising peace in our continent,” Scholz said.

France: French President Emmanuel Macron said Russia’s “act of war” was a “turning point in the history of Europe” with “deep and lasting consequences for our lives” in an address to the nation.

He said the G7, NATO and the EU would be “without weakness” when they meet to agree sanctions, after Moscow inflicted “the most significant damage on peace and stability in Europe for decades”.

Canada: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned Russia’s “egregious and unprovoked” attack on Ukraine as “a clear further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and of Russia’s obligations under international law.

“These reckless and dangerous acts will not go unpunished,” he said in a statement.

Organization for Security and Cooperation: Despite Russia being a member country, the organisation denounced the country’s act in a statement. It said the attack “puts the lives of millions of people at grave risk and is a gross breach of international law and Russia’s commitments”.

Japan: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, “The latest Russian invasion shakes the foundation of the international order, which does not permit unilateral attempts to change the status quo.”

Italy: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who is the leader of G7, called Russia’s invasion “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

“Italy is close to the Ukrainian people and institutions in this dramatic moment,” Draghi said in a statement.

Turkey: A NATO member with friendly ties with Ukraine and Russia, said the invasion was “unjust and unlawful” in a foreign ministry statement. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Moscow’s move as a “heavy blow” to regional peace and stability.

Lithuania: The country declared a state of emergency. The Baltic nation borders Russia’s Kaliningrad region to the Southwest, Belarus to the East, Latvia to the North and Poland to the South.

Portugal: Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa called for a diplomatic solution to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said potential refugees from Ukraine were welcome in the Iberian country, home to a large Ukrainian community.

What India said

Foreign minister S Jaishankar: External affairs minister S Jaishankar said he held a telephonic discussion with UK foreign secretary Liz Truss. On Twitter, he added that he exchanged perspectives on the Ukrainian situation with Truss.

He further said he received a call from Borrell and discussed the grave situation in Ukraine and how India could contribute to de-escalation efforts.

(With agency inputs)

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first published:February 24, 2022, 20:32 IST
last updated:February 24, 2022, 22:08 IST