In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin launching a "military operation" in Ukraine and calling on Ukraine military to "lay down its arms" on Thursday, 24 February, United States (US) President Joe Biden said that "the prayers of the world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces."
He added that Putin had chosen "a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering."
Stating that "Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring," Biden warned that "the US and its allies will respond in a united and decisive way" and that the world would hold Russia accountable.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Russia's attack on Ukraine marked a "dark day for Europe," AP reported.
'A War of Aggression’: Ukraine Foreign Minister
Meanwhile, in the backdrop of powerful explosions being heard across Kyiv and eastern Ukraine, the country's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba declared that Putin had begun an "all-out invasion of Ukraine," calling it a "war of aggression."
Kuleba added, "Ukraine will defend itself and will win. Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes. This is a war of aggression. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now."
Pleading the world to "act immediately," he demanded "devastating and swift sanctions on Russia NOW. Fully isolate Russia by all means, in all formats. Weapons, equipment for Ukraine. Financial and Humanitarian assistance. Future of Europe and the world is at stake [sic]."
'Demilitarisation and Denazification of Ukraine': Putin
After launching the 'military operation' in Ukraine, Putin said, "Our plans in Ukraine do not include occupying Ukrainian territory. We will aim at demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine."
"Anyone who tries to interfere with us, or even more so, to create threats for our country and our people, must know that Russia's response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences as you have never before experienced in your history."
Meanwhile, Biden said that he would "be monitoring the situation from White House this evening" and get regular updates from his national security team.
The US president added that he would meet with his G7 counterparts on the morning of Friday and that they would coordinate with their NATO allies.
European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen denounced Russia's attack on Ukraine and vowed to hold Moscow accountable, news agency AFP reported.
Leyen said, "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."
'No Plans To Send NATO Troops Into Ukraine': Secy General
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) said on Thursday that it had no plans to send NATO troops to Ukraine.
NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, "We have already increased and we are increasing the presence of NATO troops in the eastern part of the alliance. We do not have NATO troops in Ukraine and we do not have plans to send NATO troops to Ukraine."
'Condemn Putin's Refusal To Engage in Diplomatic Process': G7 Nations
In a joint statement following a virtual meeting Thursday, the leaders of the G7 lamented that Russian President Vladimir Putin has "re-introduced war to the European continent."
"We condemn President Putin for his consistent refusal to engage in a diplomatic process to address questions pertaining to European security, despite our repeated offers," the statement reads.
"We stand united with partners, including NATO, the EU and their member states as well as Ukraine and remain determined to do what is necessary to preserve the integrity of the rules-based international order," it adds.
The Group of Seven is an inter-governmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
'Putin Has Chosen a Path of Bloodshed': UK PM Boris Johnson
Meanwhile, United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet, "I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to President Zelenskyy to discuss next steps. President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine. The UK and our allies will respond decisively."
'Most Serious Attack on Peace in Europe': French Prez Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron said that Russia's aggression against Ukraine constituted "the most serious attack on peace, on stability in Europe for decades," in a national address on Thursday.
"The sanctions imposed on Russia will be commensurate with the aggression of which it is guilty," Macron said, adding that, "we will be without weakness."
Further, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a last-minute plea on Thursday to stop the war "in the name of humanity."
"President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia," Guterres said, speaking after an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine.
He added that the consequences of a war would be devastating for Ukraine and far-reaching for the global economy.
China Refuses To Call Russia's Military Op an Invasion; Slams US
China on Thursday asked both Russia and Ukraine to exercise restraint amid the ongoing conflict, adding that it did not consider Russia's military operation an "invasion," AFP reported.
When asked in a press briefing whether China condemned Russia's actions, China's foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, "China is closely watching the latest situation, and we call on all parties to maintain restraint and prevent the situation from getting out of control."
However, she refused to label Moscow's military offensive an invasion, saying that the term was a result of "prejudice."
Chunying criticised the US for "hyping-up" tensions, as per a report by AFP, alleging that the West was "adding fuel to the fire."
Beijing, much like New Delhi, has been treading a cautious middle path amid the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine – neither condemning Russia's actions, nor endorsing them – and asking for the conflict to be resolved through diplomatic channels.
Will Accept Migrants From Ukraine, Provide Healthcare: Poland
Poland's health ministry on Thursday said that it was preparing to accept migrants from Ukraine, "including Ukrainian citizens affected by the armed conflict", Reuters reported.
"We will do everything to ensure that every person who enters the territory of Poland has access to healthcare, including hospitalisation. Beds are being prepared in hospitals for the admission of the wounded."
(With inputs from AFP.)