Russia-Ukraine Crisis

‘Unprovoked and Unjustified': Biden, World Leaders Denounce Russian Attack on Ukraine

President Biden is set to meet with G7 Allies on Thursday morning and will deliver remarks on the next steps targeting Russia

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Leaders in Ukraine, the United States and across the globe have decried the latest moves by Russia, as President Vladimir Putin declared a military operation Wednesday night and reports of explosions have echoed across Ukraine.

In a statement Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden expressed solidarity with Ukraine as Russia launched what Biden described as an "unprovoked and unjustified attack," with shelling reported in multiple Ukrainian cities.

Other western leaders are condemning Russia's actions on Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden

Biden's first message Wednesday night said "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. President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering."

"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. The world will hold Russia accountable."

He added that he would be monitoring the situation, and would meet with fellow G7 leaders Thursday.

After speaking with Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, by phone late Wednesday, Biden shared another personal statement, reading in part, "I briefed him on the steps we are taking to rally international condemnation, including tonight at the United Nations Security Council. He asked me to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against President Putin’s flagrant aggression, and to stand with the people of Ukraine."

Ukrainian Government Leaders

Various members of Ukraine's government shared statements and tweets throughout the night, calling on Western countries to sanction Russia and encouraging calm and strength from their citizens.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy shared numerous statements throughout the morning, including through posts on Twitter and via video.

Around 5 a.m. ET on Thursday, he sent several tweets, in both Ukrainian and English, saying that his government had cut off diplomatic relations with Russia and likening Russia's actions to Germany in World War II.

"For all those who have not yet lost their conscience in Russia, it is time to go out and protest against the war with Ukraine," he posted. In another, he said, "We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities."

In a tweet earlier Thursday morning, Zelenskyy called for strong, "immediate" action and support for Ukraine.

"Talked to @POTUS, @OlafScholz, @eucopresident, @AndrzejDuda, @BorisJohnson. Urge to stop Putin, the war against Ukraine & the world immediately! Building an anti-Putin coalition. Immediate sanctions, defense & financial support to Ukraine! Close the airspace! The world must force Russian into peace"

Earlier in the evening, Zelenskyy had called for citizens to stay home, and stay calm, while he declared martial law in the country and spoke over the phone with Biden.

“We are working, the army is working, all sector of defense and security of Ukraine is working. I will keep in touch all the time as well as security and defense council. I will talk to you soon. Don’t panic, we’re strong, we’re prepared, we will win.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba

Kuleba tweeted a to-do list calling for "devastating" sanctions on Russia and military and humanitarian aid.

"Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine," wrote in a tweet late Wednesday. "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."

In another message, Kuleba wrote to "Ukrainians around that globe" that "Putin attacked, but no one is running away. Army, diplomats, everyone is working. Ukraine fights. Ukraine will defend itself. Ukraine will win."

Ukrainian Ambassador at the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya

Ukraine’s ambassador at the United Nations has told the Security Council that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “declared war on Ukraine.”

He also pressed his Russian counterpart to state that Russia will not shell and bomb Ukrainian cities.

Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said Wednesday night that if Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia was not in a position to give a positive answer, he should relinquish the presidency of the Security Council, which Russia holds this month.

As Russian forces invade Ukraine, Ukrainian Representative to the U.N. Sergiy Kyslytsya spoke during an emergency Security Council meeting on Wednesday night to request that Russia’s Vasily Nebenzya, who is current President of the Security Council, recuse himself from the position. “There is no purgatory for war criminals,” Sergiy Kyslytsya said. “They go straight to hell, ambassador.”

The Ukrainian then asked for another emergency meeting of the Security Council, calling on the U.N. body “to stop the war because it’s too late to talk about de-escalation.”
Kyslytsya then asked if he should play the video of Putin announcing military operations being launched in Ukraine.

Nebenzia replied: “This isn’t called a war. This is called a special military operation in Donbas.”

Other UN Members of Security Council in Emergency Meeting Wednesday Night

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, during an emergency Security Council meeting on Wednesday night: “I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart. President Putin stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give this a chance. Too many people have already died.”

During an emergency Security Council meeting on Wednesday night, the U.N. Secretary-General implored Russian President Vladimir Putin to cease attacks on Ukraine. “I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart. President Putin stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give this a chance. Too many people have already died.”

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield: "In my remarks tonight, I said that we predicted Russia's false flag attacks, the misinformation, the theatrical emergency meetings and the cyberattacks and whatever else had not come to pass. Unfortunately, while we've been meeting in the Security Council, it appears that President Putin has ordered that last step at the exact time as we are gathered in the council, seeking peace. Putin delivered a message before in total disdain for the responsibility of this council.

"This is a grave emergency. The council will need to act and we will put a resolution on the table tomorrow."

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun: "The situation in Ukraine is at a critical juncture. China has been paying close attention to the situation. In the current context, all parties concerned should exercise restraint, and avoid the further escalation of tensions. We believe that the door to a peaceful solution to the Ukraine issue is not fully shut, nor should it be shut."

US Lawmakers

Many members of Congress across the political spectrum have denounced Russia's actions around Ukraine in recent weeks, and upped their rhetoric Wednesday night. CIA Director William Burns on Wednesday night briefed the chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Adam Schiff, a source familiar with the conversations told NBC News.

House Intel Chair Adam Schiff: "There can be no certainty about what will come next, but no matter what the next days and weeks bring, the United States will stand with the people of Ukraine - now and always. ... This begins by moving swiftly beyond the significant sanctions already announced by the Biden administration to fully cutting off Russia’s leading financial institutions from the global economy and ending Europe’s dependence on Russian oil for good.”

Senate Intel Chair Mark Warner: "For more than 70 years, we have avoided large-scale war in Europe. With his illegal invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has tragically brought decades of general peace to an end. Now the U.S. and our NATO allies must stand united and resolute against Putin’s efforts to renew the Russian empire at the expense of the Ukrainian people. ... President Biden has already imposed an initial tranche of sanctions, and it is now time for us to up the pain level for the Russian government."

Senate Foreign Committee Top Republican James Risch: “Today’s invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a premeditated and flagrant act of war. Despite committed efforts to find a diplomatic solution, Putin has violated the border of a sovereign country. No one should be surprised. ... The repercussions of this invasion will be painful and swift. The only way to avoid this reality is for Putin to reverse course, immediately.”

Senate Intel Top Republican Marco Rubio, who has been tweeting all night, including: "Long range missile launches from #Russia are now underway They are headed towards various pre-selected military sites throughout #Ukraine.”

U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee: “The United States fiercely condemns this violent action and stands strongly in support of Ukraine. ... We needed sanctions months ago to ward off exactly this type of action. Now that Putin has taken these steps we must implement strong, primary and secondary sanctions immediately."

Other World Leaders and Heads of State

EU President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter, "Russian forces invaded Ukraine, a free and sovereign country. We condemn this barbaric attack, and the cynical arguments used to justify it. Later today we will present a package of massive, targeted sanctions."

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg: "I strongly condemn Russia’s reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives. Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country.

"This is a grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security. I call on Russia to cease its military action immediately and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. NATO Allies will meet to address the consequences of Russia’s aggressive actions. We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend all Allies."

UK President Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter, "I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to President Zelenskyy to discuss next steps. President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine. The UK and our allies will respond decisively."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “Canada condemns – in the strongest possible terms – Russia’s egregious attack on Ukraine. These unprovoked actions are a clear further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and of Russia’s obligations under international law and the Charter of the UN.

“Canada calls on Russia to immediately cease all hostile and provocative actions against Ukraine and withdraw all military and proxy forces from the country. Russia’s actions will be met with severe consequences."

Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin wrote on Twitter, "I strongly condemn the military action Russia has taken in Ukraine. The attack is a grave breach of international law and threatens the life of numerous civilians. Finland expresses its solid support to Ukraine and Ukrainians and we are looking for ways to increase this support.

Romania President Klaus Iohannis wrote on Twitter, I strongly condemn on behalf of RO🇷🇴 the military aggression by RU against UA,another very grave breach of international law, of 🇺🇦sovereignty&integrity.This will be met with the strongest reaction by the international community inflicting massive consequences&t/ most severe cost

This is a live update. Click here for complete coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.

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