Western leaders have responded with fury to Russia launching military attacks on Ukrainian cities, and vowed to hold the Kremlin accountable with strengthened sanctions and other measures.
Shortly after reports of explosions near Kyiv broke, US president Joe Biden accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of choosing a “premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering”.
“The prayers of the world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces,” 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 said.
“The world will hold Russia accountable.”
Biden said he had spoken to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the phone shortly after the attacks began, and said that he had told him he and allied partners would be “imposing severe sanctions on Russia” once the G7 leaders had met on Thursday.
“We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”
UK prime minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter he was “appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine” and had also spoken to Zelenskyy “to discuss next steps”.
“President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine.”