World Leaders Respond to Russian Attack on Ukraine
By Kaia Hubbard
President Joe Biden in a statement released late Wednesday as blasts and explosions shook Ukraine said Russian President Vladimir Putin had “chosen a premeditated war” that “will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” vowing to respond with allies in a “united and decisive way.”
And as Russia proceeds with the invasion of Ukraine – and months of threats and fears appear to be culminating in the worst case scenario for Ukrainians and likely countless others in Eastern Europe and perhaps beyond, other world leaders are chiming in.
NATO countries, whose alliance Putin has worked diligently to disrupt, presented a united front.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement condemned Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, saying “NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend all Allies.”
“Peace in our continent has been shattered,” Stoltenberg later said. “We now have war in Europe, on a scale and of a type we thought belong to history.”
French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation Thursday, calling the recent events a “turning point in the history of Europe.” Macron, who has become the European Union’s de facto leader and engaged in personal diplomacy with both sides, promised that France will “respond with no weakness” to Russia’s “act of war” in Ukraine.
In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson likewise called the events of the last 24 hours a “catastrophe for our continent,” writing in a tweet Thursday that “President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine,” and adding that the U.K. and its allies will respond “decisively” with economic sanctions.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz likewise committed to coordinating with its allies. Despite some concerns that Germany would waiver due to its reliance on Russian natural gas, the country earlier this week halted the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline that runs from Russia to Europe amid the escalating tensions and talked tough on Thursday.
“This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe,” Scholz said.
Israel, which had been among few countries to maintain a close relationship with both Ukraine and Russia, broke its diplomatic silence on Thursday. Its Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid condemned the invasion in a statement, saying that “the Russian attack on Ukraine is a serious violation of the international order.” He pledged to offer humanitarian assistance to Ukraine while leaving out any mention of Putin.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has governed with an increasingly heavy hand and cultivated relations with Moscow – including a weapons purchase that threatened his country’s standing as a NATO ally – similarly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it a “heavy blow” to the stability of the region.
Japan said it would work with G7 allies on the crisis in Ukraine, according to The Washington Post, announcing sanctions Wednesday before the Russian attack after appearing hesitant to do so amid an effort to develop stronger relations with Moscow. Still, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters that Ukraine expects “a stronger reaction” and “a stronger action” by Japan.
India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations TS Tirumurti said Thursday that the situation in Ukraine is in danger of “spiraling into a major crisis” but stopped short of pointing fingers at Russia, calling on “all parties” to maintain peace. India has walked a fine line in balancing a deepening U.S. alliance with its historically strong ties to Russia. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s envoy to India Igor Polikha has pleaded for the support of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“India is the powerful global player and in case of aggression of a totalitarian regime against a democratic state, India should fully assume its global role,” Polikha said, adding that he doesn’t know how many world leaders Putin may listen to, but Modi’s status, if he were to show support, would cause Putin to “at least think (it) over.”
In China, officials refused to call Russia’s actions in Ukraine an “invasion,” urging all sides to exercise restraint while suggesting that the U.S. is “fanning the flame” and hyping up war.
“This is perhaps a difference between China and you Westerners. We won’t go rushing to a conclusion,” Reuters quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying as saying.
Iran’s minister of foreign affairs Hossein Amirabdollahian appeared to side with Russia, writing in a tweet that “The #Ukraine crisis is rooted in NATO’s provocations.”