Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, accused Vladimir Putin of ‘bringing war back to Europe’ following his military invasion.
24 February 2022
Boris Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a “catastrophe for our continent”, as he called on world leaders to meet and plan a response.
The Prime Minister tweeted his remarks after chairing an urgent Cobra emergency committee meeting on Thursday morning.
He is due to address the nation later, and speak in the Commons in the evening.
The Prime Minister said: “This is a catastrophe for our continent.
“I will make an address to the nation this morning on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“I will also speak to fellow G7 leaders and I am calling for an urgent meeting of all Nato leaders as soon as possible.”
It came as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky declared martial law and urged people to stay indoors, amid reports of missile strikes and explosions across the country.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, accused Mr Putin of “bringing war back to Europe”.
Russia said it had only targeted Ukrainian air bases and other military assets, not populated areas.
But in a televised address, Mr Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences they have never seen”.
He said Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine, and claimed responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian “regime”.
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly described the comments as “bully” tactics and said the UK will respond with “unprecedented” sanctions “to punish the appalling decision” by Russia’s leader.
A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Johnson had assured Mr Zelensky during an early morning telephone call that the West will “not stand by as President Putin waged his campaign against the Ukrainian people”.
Explosions could be heard in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv shortly after Mr Putin’s address, while explosions were also reported in the cities of Odesa and Kharkiv.
Elsewhere, footage appeared to show queues of people fleeing their homes, and Russian military crossing the border into Ukraine.