…World leaders react with outrage

Major Western nations have reacted with outrage at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, accusing it of bringing war back to Europe.

US President Joe Biden feared a “catastrophic loss of life” and said allies would impose severe sanctions.

In Eastern Europe, the fears extended to coping with a wave of refugees.

Other nations, including China, which bridled at the word invasion were more muted. Some focused more on the safety of their citizens in Ukraine.

Ukraine says Russia is carrying out a full-scale attack from many directions, but the details of the assault and the number of casualties are not yet clear.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken of a “special military operation” aimed at the demilitarisation and “denazification” of Ukraine, but his overall goals also remain unclear.

The uncertainty has not stopped an angry and defiant response from Western allies.

French President Emmanuel Macron said this was a “turning point in the history of Europe”.

A largely united voice spoke out with condemnation and promises of sanctions.

Joe Biden said: “President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”

He said the United States would meet with allies to hammer out economic punishment.

European Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, said Mr Putin was “responsible for bringing war back to Europe”. The sanctions would “weaken Russia’s economic base and its capacity to modernise”.

UK Prime Minister (PM), Boris Johnson, said Mr Putin had “chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction” with an “unprovoked attack”.

German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said he stood by his allies in Eastern Europe, saying Mr Putin would pay a “bitter price” for his “serious error”.

Calling for a speedy North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit, Mr Macron expressed France’s solidarity with Ukraine. It was a view echoed by many, including Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, who called Russia’s attack “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

But there was also huge concern at what could happen next.

One German minister spoke of a “land war in Europe that we thought was only to find in history books”, while another, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, said Germany would help neighbours if there was a “large-scale influx” of refugees.

That concern is also shared by Ukraine’s neighbours, but many were also scrambling to shore up their own security. –BBC

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