Ukraine is under military attack since early Thursday morning when Russia launched strikes against Kyiv and other cities in the country.
The invasion does not come as a surprise after Russia had moved more than 150,000 troops to the Ukrainian border, in the process violating the Minsk agreement and denying Ukraine’s right to national self-determination. Russia had already recognised the breakaway regions in Donetsk and Luhansk and refused to engage in negotiations to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Russian President Putin described the start of the war as a “special military operation” whose aim was to “demilitarise” but not occupy the country. However, Putin's words don't match up with his bellicose actions.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that "Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes. This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on President Putin: "In the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia. This conflict must stop now."
- EU presses Norway in bid to ease dependence on Russian gas
- EU-Russia sanctions rock Antwerp's diamond district
In a press statement on Thursday morning, European Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned “Russia's unprecedented and unprovoked military aggression of Ukraine.”
The EU calls on Russia to immediately cease the hostilities, withdraw its military from Ukraine and fully respect Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. “Such use of force and coercion has no place in the 21st century. The EU stands firmly by Ukraine and its people as they face this unparalleled crisis.”
EU leaders will meet later on Thursday morning. Council President Michel has urgently convened an extraordinary meeting of the European Council to discuss the crisis and further restrictive measures.
These will impose massive and severe sanctions on Russia for its actions. President von der Leyen and High Representative Borrell will outline a further sanctions package being finalised by the European Commission and the EEAS in close coordination with partners. The Council will adopt them swiftly.
The EU promises that it will continue to provide strong political, financial and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and its people. What EU cannot do is to provide military assistance to Ukraine. Any military assistance for Ukraine to defend itself will have to come from EU member states or NATO.
The Brussels Times