"A Dark Day for Europe" German and EU Leaders Sharply Condemn Putin's Attack on Ukraine
The reaction from Berlin to the broadscale Russian offensive against Ukraine, launched on Thursday morning, was swift. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said "the Russian attack on Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law. There is no justification for it."
The chancellor called on Russia to immediately cease its military operations, saying "this is a dark day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe."
Scholz’s comments came as Russian forces launched attacks against military installations across Ukraine, with explosions reported in cities far beyond the Donbas region, which Russian President Vladimir Putin had said would be the focus of the military operation in an announcement early on Thursday morning. Just minutes after his televised announcement, reports of detonations and incursions began emerging from across Ukraine.
"A Violation of the Basic Principles of Human Coexistence"
According to Ukrainian border guards, the attack has also included a ground invasion by Russian troops, heavy artillery and tanks. There have been detonations reported as far west as Lviv, not far from the border to Poland, a member of both NATO and the EU.
Russia must stop this military action immediately. Within the framework of the G7, Nato and the EU, we will coordinate closely today. This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe. (2/2)— Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz (@Bundeskanzler) February 24, 2022
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said: "With its attack on Ukraine, Russia violates the most basic and important rules of the international order. The international community will not forget this day of shame."
She was backed by her Green Party colleague, Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck. "We are faced with a land war in Europe of the kind we thought we could only find in the history books,” he said on Thursday morning. "It is a shameless violation of international law and we condemn it in the harshest possible terms."
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck
Christian Lindner, head of the Free Democrats, the third member in Germany’s tri-party governing coalition and Germany’s finance minister, said on Twitter: "The Russian attack is a nightmare. Putin has shown himself to be a liar. Together with our partners from the EU, NATO and G-7, we express full solidarity with Ukraine."
In Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Thursday morning that EU leaders would be meeting to agree on a second package of sanctions to be imposed against Russia. In comments released on Twitter, she said: "We condemn this barbaric attack and the cynical arguments used to justify it." She said: "The target is the stability of Europe and the whole of the international peace order," before then saying that Europe will impose "massive and targeted sanctions."
Russian forces invaded Ukraine, a free and sovereign country.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) February 24, 2022
We condemn this barbaric attack, and the cynical arguments used to justify it.
Later today we will present a package of massive, targeted sanctions.
Her message was echoed by EU foreign policy representative Josep Borrell. "These are among the darkest hours for Europe since the end of World War II," he said, calling the attack a "violation of the basic principles of human coexistence."
Just what the package of sanctions might look like, however, remains unclear. There has been pushback in recent days from a number of EU member states against certain aspects of the potential sanctions under discussion, particularly since many punitive measures will also have negative effects in Europe. Germany, for example, has expressed concern about completely shutting Russia out of the international banking system, while Italy is eager to see luxury goods excluded given the Russian elite’s appetite for exclusive brand names, and Belgium would like to see similar opt-outs for the diamond trade.
With the feared attack now a realty, however, it seems likely that no country will be willing to stand in the way of a tough European reaction to Russian aggression.
"In close coordination with our partners, we will respond," German Chancellor Scholz said.
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