Central Europe wakes up to full-scale attack on UkraineReading Time: 2 minutes
Global news organisations are reporting that Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the early morning hours of Thursday, 24 February, bombing targets across the country and sending in troops. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has declared martial law in his country. Promising that the world will hold Russia accountable, US President Joe Biden called the attack “unprovoked and unjustified”, Al Jazeera reports.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced the bloc would institute severe retaliatory measures against Russia. He said that EU leaders would “adopt a stronger package, the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented.”
Countries across Central and Eastern Europe denounced the attack. Calling it an “unjustified act of aggression”, Czechia’s Prime Minister Petr Fiala called for a hard response from the EU and NATO. The country’s Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky tweeted: “I strongly condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin’s decision to launch a completely unprovoked attack is unacceptable and in contradiction to international law. Together with Allies, we will respond to this barbaric act of aggression.”
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis chimed in with his condemnation, tweeting “I strongly condemn on behalf of Romania the military aggression by Russia against Ukraine, another very grave breach of international law, of Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity. This will be met with the strongest reaction by the international community inflicting massive consequences and the most severe cost.”
Hungary wants no part of the fight, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said following a visit to a military facility on Wednesday, insisting that Hungary’s security mattered most and it should stay out of the war – but that Budapest should assist international efforts to restore peace. Regarding security in Hungary, Orban said that the country’s military and police would work together “should things turn for the worse with refugees coming.” Hungary recognises Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said this morning, adding that his country would take part in discussions with how allies would respond.
TVP World reports that the Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, issued a joint statement against Russia’s actions. It reads, “We, the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, strongly condemn Russia’s widespread aggression against an independent, peaceful and democratic Ukraine.” Among the “strongest sanctions” they recommended in their missive is cutting Moscow’s access to the SWIFT global payments system.