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Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv on February 24, 2022.

World leaders condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine

February 24th, 2022
Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv, Ukraine on February 24th, 2022.
Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

(CNN) — As the world comes to terms with Russia launching a military attack on Ukraine, attention turns to how the international community will respond and how far it will go in punishing Vladimir Putin.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the attack a “reckless act by President Putin” and a “terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe.” He added that the EU, G7 and NATO would coordinate closely on Thursday.

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Russia’s actions a “barbaric attack” and said she will present EU member states with “massive and strategic” sanctions against Russia for approval later today. “These sanctions are designed to take a heavy toll on the Kremlin’s interests and their ability to finance war. And we know that millions of Russians do not want war,” she added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also expected to announce a fresh package of sanctions. He tweeted on Thursday morning that Russia’s actions were “a catastrophe for our continent.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has led many of the diplomatic efforts to deescalate, reacted by saying “France stands in solidarity with Ukraine. It stands with Ukrainians and is working with its partners and allies to end the war.”

While Europe has largely stood united, there has been a notable silence from Hungarian leader Viktor Orban, who has a close relationship with Putin and has behind the scenes been accused of disrupting Europe’s unity in response to the crisis.

Outside of Europe, US President Joe Biden warned of incoming “consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security.”

NATO and European security sources have previously told CNN that the US has been coordinating the unified response to the crisis and will likely take the lead today as the International community is expected to dramatically increase sanctions on Russia.

Western allies around the world have also committed to work with their partners in response to Russia. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the “situation is tense. We will continue to work in collaboration with the international community, including the G7 nations.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Ukraine has his country’s “unwavering support.”

In Africa, the response was muted with only a handful of governments on the continent speaking out in the aftermath of the attacks.

“The Nigerian position is that dialogue should be prioritized over force,” a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari told CNN Thursday.

South Africa said the ongoing crisis “could have regional and global ramifications” if allowed to deteriorate.

“All parties have much to gain from a negotiated outcome and much to lose from unnecessary and violent conflict,” the country’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, said in a statement.

Uncomfortably for Putin, China has not expressed particular support for Russia. China is Putin’s only major ally and has in recent years developed a close relationship with Russia, supporting it at the UN.

However, China has thus far refused to criticize Russia and said it would begin importing Russian wheat, a move that could ease the impact of Western sanctions on Russia.

China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, only went so far as saying all parties needed “stay cool headed and rational,” he added that it was “especially important at the moment to avoid fueling tensions.”

Governments all over the world are currently holding meetings to discuss how far sanctions should go against Russia in response to this huge escalation.
A first wave of sanctions came from the US, EU and UK on Tuesday, though they were limited in scope and criticized for not going very far.

It is very likely that fresh sanctions will go further and will target Russia’s broad economy in a less compromising manner, possibly going so far as hitting Putin’s personal wealth directly.

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