- 24 Feb 22
"By its unprovoked and unjustified military actions, Russia is grossly violating international law and undermining European and global security and stability," the members of the European Council have declared in a joint statement.
Russia's launch of a new wave of aggression against Ukraine has been met with international outcry.
According to a statement issued by the Embassy of Ukraine to Ireland, the Russian Armed Forces "are launching attacks on peaceful Ukrainian cities from different directions, including from the territory of the temporary occupied Donbas and Crimea, as well as from South-East region."
"This is an act of war, an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, a brutal violation of the UN Charter and basic norms and principles of the international law," the statement continues.
In a televised address in the early hours of Thursday, February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the "special military operation" against Ukraine.
“Further expansion of the NATO infrastructure and the beginning of military development in Ukraine’s territories are unacceptable for us," he said, as translated by Al Jazeera. "The problem, of course, is not NATO itself – it is only an instrument of US foreign policy. The problem is that in the territories adjacent to us – territories that were historically ours, I emphasise – an 'anti-Russia' hostile to us is being created, placed under full external control; [it] is intensively settled by the armed forces of NATO countries and is supplied with the most modern weapons."
The goal of the "special military operation", he said, is "to protect people who have been subjected to abuse and genocide by the regime in Kyiv for eight years."
"And for this we will pursue the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, as well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation," he continued.
Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has taken to Twitter to condemn the attacks:
"Make no mistake: this is a shocking murderous act of aggression against a sovereign peaceful state. EU and world needs to respond strongly," he writes.
"Our thoughts & prayers are with the innocent people of Ukraine, as families wake up to shocking Russian attacks," he resumes. "Russian leaders are lying to their own people to justify this illegal aggression. We utterly condemn Russia for this act of unjustifiable war in the heart of Europe."
He also notes that Ireland's diplomatic team in Kyiv have been "moved to a safe place", and remain in contact with their colleagues in Ireland.
"We are working with EU colleagues to ensure their safety," he adds.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has also denounced "Russian's indefensible attack on the sovereign people of Ukraine."
"Our first thoughts are with them," he continues. "We will work with the EU & UN to hold Putin and his regime accountable. Russia will pay a high price for this outrageous act of aggression. We stand with Ukraine."
In a joint statement, the members of the European Council have expressed their condemnation "in the strongest possible terms" of Russia's "unprecedented military aggression against Ukraine."
"By its unprovoked and unjustified military actions, Russia is grossly violating international law and undermining European and global security and stability," they add. "We also condemn the involvement of Belarus in this aggression against Ukraine and call on it to abide by its international obligations.
"We demand that Russia immediately ceases military actions, unconditionally withdraws all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine and fully respects Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. Such use of force and coercion has no place in the 21st century."
The European Council will meet later today, to discuss the attacks, and "agree in principle on further restrictive measures that will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action, in close coordination with our transatlantic partners."
They go on to state that the EU and its Member States "are ready to urgently provide humanitarian emergency response" – and they call on "Russia and Russia-backed armed formations to respect international humanitarian law."
"We are coordinating our response with our neighbours and international partners, including NATO and G7 whose leaders will be meeting shortly," they conclude.
U.S. President Joe Biden has also issued a statement, noting that the "prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine".
"President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering," Biden remarked. "Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.
"I will be monitoring the situation from the White House this evening and will continue to get regular updates from my national security team. Tomorrow, I will meet with my G7 counterparts in the morning and then speak to the American people to announce the further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security. We will also coordinate with our NATO Allies to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the Alliance. Tonight, Jill and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine."