Western leaders issued a volley of condemnations and threatened reprisals for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered troops into the country and demanded Kyiv’s army lay down its weapons in what many fear will be Europe’s worst conflict since the second world war.
UN secretary-general António Guterres warned that if the military action lead to a “generalised war” it would be difficult to forecast the number of deaths and displaced people.
US President Joe Biden accused Putin of launching a “premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering”.
Nato called an emergency meeting of its top decision-making body, its chief Jens Stoltenberg denouncing “Russia’s reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives”.
“In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” European commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.
Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, said Putin had “chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine”, adding: “The UK and our allies will respond decisively.”
“This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe,” said Olaf Scholz, German chancellor. “The Russian attack on Ukraine is a flagrant breach of international law. Germany condemns this reckless act of President Putin in the strongest terms.”
Zhang Jun, China’s envoy to the UN, said the “door to a peaceful solution” was not yet shut and all parties should exercise restraint.
Ireland, which holds a seat on the UN Security Council, condemned the Russian invasion and demanded robust action from the West.
“Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. God help them,” tweeted Simon Coveney, foreign minister. “Make no mistake, this is a shocking, murderous act of aggression against a sovereign, peaceful state. EU and world needs to respond strongly.”