EU leaders warn Russia of ‘massive consequences’

Moscow’s military action in Ukraine is a violation of international law, EU officials have said

Senior EU officials have publicly denounced Russia’s attack on Ukraine, hours after President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine. They also promised “massive consequences” for Moscow. 

President Charles Michel of the European Council and President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission released a statement on Thursday, writing: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s unprecedented military aggression against Ukraine. By its unprovoked and unjustified military actions, Russia is grossly violating international law and undermining European and global security and stability.”

The officials called on Moscow to immediately cease its military operations, adding, “Such use of force and coercion has no place in the 21st century.”

They also promised financial and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, and said that the EU would impose “massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action,” including new economic sanctions.

The US-led military bloc NATO also released a statement on Thursday, writing, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s horrifying attack on Ukraine, which is entirely unjustified and unprovoked. Our thoughts are with all those killed and injured, and with the people of Ukraine.” The organization also criticized Belarus for “enabling” the attack.

On Wednesday evening, the leaders of the newly recognized Lugansk People’s Republic and its neighbor the Donetsk People’s Republic formally requested military assistance from Russia. Hours later, Putin authorized the use of force for an offensive in the Donbass, and in a televised address to the nation, claimed that the goal was to “de-militarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has imposed martial law in the country and asked citizens to remain calm and stay at home. In a statement, he called on Russian people to oppose the war, saying, “Russians will choose personally which path each of them will take. For all who have not yet lost their conscience, it is time to go the streets and protest against this war.”

Writing on Twitter, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced that Russia was not only invading the east of the country, but that there was a “full-scale attack from multiple directions.”

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