President Joe Biden condemned Russia's attack on Ukraine Wednesday and vowed to impose "severe" new sanctions on Moscow in response.
Biden said in a statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin had "chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering."
He called the military operation, which Putin announced in a televised speech just before dawn on Thursday in Moscow, an “unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces.”
“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," he said. “The world will hold Russia accountable."
Earlier this week Putin formally recognized the independence of two Moscow-backed breakaway regions in the eastern part of the country and ordered troops into the area, attempting to frame it as a "peacekeeping” effort.
The move was condemned, and Biden announced sanctions against Russia in response. In the wake of the long-feared attack on Ukraine, he promised harsher action would follow.
The White House released a written statement following Biden's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In the statement, Biden said he briefed Zelenskyy on the steps his administration is taking to "rally international condemnation" against Russia.
Biden said Zelenskyy had reached out to him and asked Biden to call on world leaders to “speak out clearly against President Putin’s flagrant aggression,” the statement said.
“Tomorrow, I will be meeting with the Leaders of the G7, and the United States and our Allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia,” he said. “We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”
A White House official said the sanctions would be significant new actions to punish Russia, but would not say that the U.S. would unload every financial penalty in its arsenal.
Zelenskyy said Thursday that he was imposing martial law, but urged his citizens to remain calm. "Putin has started a war with Ukraine and with all the democratic world," he said.
Leaders of other nations also condemned Russia's military action and vowed to level fresh penalties on Moscow.
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Russia’s action while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO allies would meet to tackle the consequences of Russia’s “reckless and unprovoked attack.”
The European Union said it was planning the “strongest, the harshest package” of sanctions it has ever considered at an emergency summit Thursday.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was appalled, and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his country condemns Russia’s attack. Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs also rejected the use of force and supported efforts for peace.
“These reckless and dangerous acts will not go unpunished,” Trudeau said in a statement.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who moved Tuesday to suspend certification for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in response to Russia’s actions this week, called it “a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe.”