Biden says US, allies will respond to 'unjustified' attack by Russia on Ukraine

President Joe Biden said he will announce further consequences to be imposed on Russia by the United States and its allies. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (AFP/REUTERS) - The United States and its allies will respond in a united and decisive way to "an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces" on Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said after his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin authorised a special military operation in the country.

"President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering," Mr Biden said in a statement. "Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring. The world will hold Russia accountable."

Mr Biden also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky soon after the Russian move. 

Mr Biden “just spoke with Zelensky,” a spokesman said, adding that details would be issued later.

Mr Biden is expected to announce on Thursday further measures to be imposed on Russia by America and its allies.

Other world leaders have also condemned Russia.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and has spoken to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss next steps.

“President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine,” Mr Johnson said in a tweet.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine as an unjustified and flagrant breach of international law and said Berlin would consult its partners in the Group of Seven (G7), Nato and the European Union.

“This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe,” Mr Scholz said in a statement.

EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel said Russia will be held “accountable” for its attack on Ukraine.

“We strongly condemn Russia’s unjustified attack on Ukraine. 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,” they each wrote on Twitter.

“We will hold the Kremlin accountable.” EU leaders were to hold a snap summit late on Thursday, called before overnight Russian airstrikes hit Ukrainian cities.

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday that Japan will work with Group of Seven member countries and the international community on Ukraine issues, but that they are still in the process of gathering information.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg denounced Russia's "reckless and unprovoked attack" on Ukraine, warning that it put "countless" lives in jeopardy.

"I strongly condemn Russia's reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives. Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country," Mr Stoltenberg said in a statement.

"Nato allies will meet to address the consequences of Russia's aggressive actions. We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. Nato will do all it takes to protect and defend all allies."

Britain's ambassador to Ukraine called the Russian move a "wholly unprovoked attack".

"A wholly unprovoked attack on a peaceful country, Ukraine, is unfolding. Horrified," British Ambassador Melinda Simmons said on Twitter. "Just because you've prepared and thought about this possibility for weeks and months doesn't mean it isn't shocking when it actually happens."

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