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Over 105,000 residents of Donetsk and Luhansk have been evacuated to Russia to date, according to security agencies Alamy Stock Photo

Russia faces 'unprecedented isolation' over Ukraine invasion, EU says

The international community has been quick to urge Putin to step back from the war.

LAST UPDATE | 24 Feb 2022

THE WORLD IS this morning waking to the news of Russia invading Ukraine.

Explosions were reported in several Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, starting at approximately 5am local time (3am Irish time).

The international community has been quick to urge Russian President Vladimir Putin to step back from the war.

World leaders swiftly condemned Russia’s military attack on Ukraine, with Western capitals pledging new sanctions on Moscow and the UN chief demanding the conflict “stop now”.

Russia faces “unprecedented isolation” over its attack on Ukraine and will be hit with the “harshest sanctions” the EU has ever imposed, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said today.

“This is not a question of blocs. This is not a question of diplomatic power games. It’s a matter of life and death. It is about the future of our global community,” he said in a broadcast statement.

Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted this morning: “The world must act immediately. Future of Europe & the world is at stake.” He called for “devastating sanctions” to be imposed on Russia.

Shortly after the operation began, 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 entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces.” 

He warned “Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring.”

“The world will hold Russia accountable,” Biden added.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney wrote on Twitter: “Russia has launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine. God help them.

“Rocket attacks and explosions across the country. Make no mistake: this is a shocking murderous act of aggression against a sovereign peaceful state. EU and world needs to respond strongly.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent people of Ukraine, as families wake up to shocking Russian attacks. Russian leaders are lying to their own people to justify this illegal aggression. We utterly condemn Russia for this act of unjustifiable war in the heart of Europe. 

“Our Diplomatic team in Kiev has moved to a safe place and we stay in close contact with them. We are working with EU colleagues to ensure their safety,” Coveney added.

‘Must stop now’

UN chief Antonio Guterres urged Russia to end aggressions in Ukraine after Moscow announced a military operation against its neighbour.

“President Putin, in the name of humanity bring your troops back to Russia,” the secretary-general said after an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the crisis.

“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”.

French President Emmanuel Macron strongly condemned Russia’s military action against Ukraine, vowing Paris would work with allies to end the war.

“Russia must immediately put an end to its military operations,” Macron wrote on Twitter, saying Russia had made the decision to “wage war” on Ukraine.

“France stands in solidarity with Ukraine. It stands by Ukrainians and is working with its partners and allies to end the war,” he added.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen denounced Russia’s attack on Ukraine and vowed to hold Moscow “accountable”.

“We strongly condemn Russia’s unjustified attack on Ukraine. In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” EU chief Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.

“We will hold the Kremlin accountable.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the Russian military operation in Ukraine as “a glaring violation” of international law on a “dark day” for Europe.

“Germany condemns in the strongest possible terms this unscrupulous act by President Putin. Our solidarity goes out to Ukraine and its people,” he added in a statement.

Scholz, whose country currently holds the presidency of the G7 forum, said it was “a terrible day for Ukraine”.

He urged Moscow to stop its military operation “immediately”. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will preside over an emergency meeting to discuss the “horrific” Russian attack on Ukraine today, his office said.

“The Prime Minister will chair a COBR at 7:30am to discuss the response to the horrific attacks in Ukraine this morning,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.


The United States will present the United Nations Security Council with a resolution condemning Russia for its actions against Ukraine, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced.

“The Council will need to act, and we will put a resolution on the table tomorrow,” said Thomas-Greenfield, although an American official speaking anonymously later clarified that the vote, in which Russia holds a veto, will likely come on tomorrow.

Nato head Jens Stoltenberg said Russia had “chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country.”

The attack “puts at risk countless civilian lives,” Stoltenberg said in a statement, describing it as a “grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security.”

Nato ambassadors are to hold an emergency meeting this morning European time to discuss the attack.

Australia hit Russia with a “second phase” of sanctions on Thursday over its assault on Ukraine, the first salvo in an expected battery of new international measures to punish Moscow.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned Russia’s “illegal invasion” as he announced sanctions against 25 individuals, four entities involved in developing and selling military gear, and restrictions on four financial institutions.

“Vladimir Putin has fabricated a feeble pretext on which to invade. Russia’s disinformation and propaganda has convinced no one,” Morrison said.

He flagged further waves of sanctions would be imposed “as we identify those responsible for these egregious acts”, including against 300 members of the Russian parliament.

© AFP 2022 with reporting by Garreth MacNamee, Céimin Burke and Órla Ryan
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