BRUSSELS (AP) — World leaders on Thursday condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “barbaric” and moved to impose unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow and those close to President Vladimir Putin.
The West and its allies have shown no intention of sending troops to Ukraine – a non-NATO member – and risking a wider European war. But NATO has reinforced its member states in Eastern Europe as a precaution against an attack on them as well.
“Make no mistake: we will defend every ally against any attack on every square inch of NATO territory,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.
Around the world, the outbreak of fighting has sent stocks plummeting and oil prices soaring on fears of rising food and fuel prices.
Countries from Japan, South Korea and Australia to Western Europe and the United States lined up to condemn the attack and began taking steps to isolate Moscow in hopes of forcing it out to pay such a high price that he changes course.
As the first major world leader to take a big step forward, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced an asset freeze for all major Russian banks and plans to ban Russian companies and the Kremlin from raising funds on UK markets.
Britain will also ban the export to Russia of a wide range of high-tech products, including semiconductors, and ban the country’s flagship airline, Aeroflot, from landing at UK airports.
Johnson called the attack “hideous and barbaric” and said of Putin: “Now we see him for what he is – a bloody aggressor who believes in imperial conquest.”
Canada has imposed sanctions that will target 58 individuals and entities, including members of the Russian elite and their families, the paramilitary group Wagner and major Russian banks. The punitive measures, announced after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a virtual meeting of G-7 industrialized nations, will also affect members of Russia’s Security Council, including top cabinet ministers.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Stoltenberg also called the invasion a “barbaric” attack on an independent nation that threatened “stability in Europe and the whole international peace order”. The European Union has scheduled an emergency summit in Brussels to consider sanctions.
Von der Leyen said she would propose “massive and targeted sanctions” that would block the country’s access to key technologies and financial markets and freeze Russian assets in Europe.
“We want to cut off Russian industry from technologies that we desperately need today to build the future,” von der Leyen said.
In the days leading up to the attack, Germany suspended approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, and the EU imposed sanctions on hundreds of Russian lawmakers and other world officials and institutions. defense and banking.
In a similar bid to repel an invasion, US President Joe Biden in recent days announced sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs and warned of even tougher sanctions in the event of an attack.
Biden called a meeting of his National Security Council on Thursday morning to deal with the crisis.
In addition, the UN should vote on Friday a resolution condemning Russia and demanding the immediate withdrawal of all its forces. But Moscow is certain to veto the measure.
Von der Leyen insisted that all Western powers were in tune with the crisis. Even Hungary, an often recalcitrant member of the EU, was quick to condemn the attack, raising hopes that the 27 states would soon achieve the unanimity required for the sanctions package.
Highlighting a growing rift in superpower relations, China remained alone in not condemning the attack and instead accused the United States and its allies of aggravating the crisis.
In a clear defense of Moscow, China “called on the parties to respect each other’s legitimate security concerns.”
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said ‘all parties should work for peace instead of escalating tension or exaggerating the possibility of war’ – language China always has used to criticize the West in crisis.
China went further and approved wheat imports from Russia, a move that could lessen the impact of Western sanctions. Russia, one of the biggest wheat producers, would be vulnerable if foreign markets were closed.
Oil prices soared more than $5 a barrel. Brent crude briefly jumped above $100 a barrel in London for the first time since 2014 on fears of a supply disruption from Russia, the third-largest producer.
The possible repercussions went well beyond economics and geopolitics. The director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fears the crisis could further distract global attention from helping the world’s least vaccinated continent fight COVID-19.
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