Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès reacted with revulsion on Thursday at "war and invasion" by Russia in Ukraine, hours from a pre-planned summit of European Union leaders in Brussels.
The ex-premier, tipped to take over at NATO in the Spring, told Bel RTL radio that overnight military moves by Moscow required a response by Western allies "at the level of this unprecedented attack."
"We can use the words 'war' and 'invasion'," Wilmès said. "If we can't use these words today, then I don't know when we can. This is an unprecedented attack by Russia on Ukraine."
"This is a dramatic situation on Europe's doorstep," she added.
NATO ambassadors debriefing
Reports overnight told of Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering Ukrainian troops to lay down their weapons and go home. Putin promised instant and severe punishment for anyone interfering in Moscow's enlarged back yard.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Russian attack," Wilmès went on. "We have a message of unity and support for the Ukrainian people."
"We have supported them since the beginning and we must continue to do so. We must deliver a response at the level of this unprecedented attack."
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She said NATO ambassadors were briefing the 30 member states, bringing North American and British intelligence and capabilities to the table ahead of the emergency European Union summit on Thursday.
"We need a precise picture of what is happening on the ground," she added. "The indications we have from the international reports do not bode well at all and indicate a multitude of attacks in different places."
'War of disinformation'
The EU earlier this week applied sanctions against Russia following its recognition of the eastern Ukrainian "people's republics" Luhansk and Donetsk as independent territories.
Wilmès said that the military attacks were accompanied by "a war of disinformation" and that dialogue was just a "pretext" for Russia, as it rolled out "all the elements enabling it to put in place a major-scale invasion of Ukraine.
"Vladimir Putin's words are scarcely credible as things stand when he says he wants a diplomatic resolution to the present situations. We multiplied our contacts (precisely) to avoid this," she underlined.