World expresses raw outrage, ponders Russia sanctions

World expresses raw outrage, ponders Russia sanctions

Brussels: World leaders expressed a raw outrage shrouded by an impotence to immediately come to the aid of Ukraine to avoid a major war in Europe, condemning Russia's attack on its neighbour as the European Union and others promised unprecedented sanctions to hit the Kremlin.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it a barbaric attack on an independent nation that also targeted the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order .

The EU will hold an emergency summit in Brussels, where NATO is also meeting after Poland and the Baltic nations bordering Russia and Ukraine called for an urgent session.

But no one promised to move in militarily and defend Ukraine as it could touch off a major European war. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned anyone listening that any interference would lead to consequences you have never seen in history .

So instead, most of the world but not China condemned and threatened to hit the Russian elites with, in the words of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the strongest package, the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented .

Von der Leyen said the massive and targeted sanctions she will put to EU leaders will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking the access to technologies and markets that are key for Russia.

She said the sanctions, if approved, will weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernise. And in addition, we will freeze Russian assets in the European Union and stop the access of Russian banks to European financial markets.

Like the first package of sanctions that were imposed when Russia recognised the two breakaway eastern Ukrainian republics, von der Leyen said all Western powers were walking in lockstep.

We are closely aligned with our partners and allies the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, but also, for example, Japan and Australia, she said.

And highlighting a widening rift in superpower relations, China stood alone in failing to condemn the attack and instead accused the United States and its allies of worsening the crisis.

In a clear defense of Moscow, China called on parties to respect others' legitimate security concerns. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that all parties should work for peace instead of escalating the tension or hyping up the possibility of war, in language China has consistently used to criticise the West in the crisis. China has increasingly aligned its foreign policy with Russia to challenge the West.

One thing was clear weeks of diplomatic cajoling, global crisscrossing of leaders and foreign ministers, and the threat of sanctions against Putin's inner circle had failed to persuade the Kremlin to take one of the most significant measures in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

Overall though, more sanctions appear the only option for the foreseeable future. And from South Korea to Australia to Europe, governments were lining up to oppose Putin.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and said Ukraine was in the thoughts of everyone in the UK during this dark time.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who had laboured until the last minute for a diplomatic solution, said France firmly condemns Russia's decision to wage war, and promised support for Ukraine. Russia must end its military operations immediately, Macron said.

The turmoil from the beginning of a long-feared act of aggression rippled from Europe to Asia.

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