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World condemnation is raining down on Russia’s attack

BRUSSELS – World leaders on Thursday condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “barbaric” and imposed heavy sanctions on Russia’s economy, President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and many of the country’s oligarchs.

“Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences,” U.S. President Joe Biden declared.

The United States, the 27-nation European Union and other Western allies have announced a round of punitive measures against Russian banks and leading companies and imposed export controls aimed at kill the country’s and military industries of semiconductors and other high-tech products.

From the US to Western Europe and Japan, South Korea and Australia, countries lined up to denounce the Kremlin. The aggression initially led to falling stocks and rising oil prices in fear of higher costs for food and fuel.

The West and its allies have shown no inclination to send troops to Ukraine, a non -NATO member, and risk wider war on the continent. But NATO has strengthened its member states in Eastern Europe as a precaution also against attacking them.

“Make no mistake: We will defend every ally against any attack on every inch of NATO territory,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.

Biden prevented the imposition of some of the harshest sanctions, including Russia’s cut in the SWIFT payment system, which allows for the transfer of money from bank to bank around the world. The president of Ukraine has called for Russia to oust SWIFT, but the US has expressed concern about the potential damage to European economies.

EU leaders held an emergency summit and agreed on sanctions covering, among other things, the financial, energy and transport sectors and various Russian individuals. In a statement, the leaders said the measures would have “enormous and serious consequences” for Russia.

Details will not be available until now at the very least.

“We want to cut Russia’s industry away from today’s indispensable technologies to shape the future,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “It’s about Russia’s leadership and being ruthless financially and economically.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced financial restrictions and export controls. In addition, Britain will also ban Russia’s flagship airline, Aeroflot, from landing at British airports.

Johnson called the attack on Ukraine “sensational and barbaric” and said of Putin: “Now we see him for what he is-a blood-stained aggressor who believes in empire conquest.”

Canada has imposed sanctions that will target 58 people and entities, including members of Russia’s elite and their families, the paramilitary Wagner Group and major Russian banks. Corrective measures will also cover members of the Russian Security Council, including key cabinet ministers.

In the days before the attack, Germany suspended approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.

Along with Stoltenberg and Johnson, von der Leyen called the invasion a “barbaric” attack on an independent country that threatened “stability in Europe and throughout the global peace order.”

The new US sanctions also targeted the military and financial institutions of Belarus, Ukraine’s neighbor to the north. Russia uses Belarus as a staging ground for troop movements in Ukraine.

Separately, the UN Security Council is expected to vote today on a resolution condemning Russia and calling for the immediate withdrawal of all its forces.

BEWARE OF JAPAN

As the leaders of the world’s largest economies gather to discuss a united response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Japan, the only Asian member of the G-7, has been carefully cooperating with its Western allies after the years of trying to avoid clashes in Moscow.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has vowed to make a “tough response” to the move with Western allies.

“On the one hand, Japan really follows the six other G-7 countries,” said Atsuko Higashino, a European politics expert at Tsukuba University in Ibaraki. “At the same time, the Japanese government’s actions are really slow and small, and trying to limit influence as much as possible.”

Those actions include economic sanctions announced on Wednesday that include suspending the issuance of visas and freezing the assets of individuals connected to the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, banning imports and exports for the two regions, and a ban on the sale of Russian sovereign debt to Japan.

Many analysts have had difficulty determining whether, or how much, Russia’s debt was issued to Japan. The visa ban in breakaway regions is more controversial because Japan currently does not issue any visas to foreigners due to its coronavirus border lockdown.

Japan has also agreed to send excessively liquefied natural gas reserves to European countries that rely on Russia for supply and has pledged at least $ 100 million in emergency loans for Ukraine to show support.

After the announcement of the sanctions, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country expected Japan’s “stronger reaction” and “stronger action”.

Japan also relies on Russia for energy imports. In 2020, 8.2% of Japan’s LNG imports and 14.5% of coal imports will come from Russia, Nikkei Asia reported. Japan said this week it holds approximately 240 days worth of oil reserves and has no concern that the current crisis will immediately disrupt Japan’s energy supply.

CZECH, HUNGARIAN CONDEMNATION

Meanwhile, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shocked former Soviet satellite states in Central and Eastern Europe, causing intense condemnation even among the region’s former most pro-Kremlin politicians.

Two hitherto major pro-Russian voices in the European Union, Czech President Milos Zeman and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, have criticized the aggression as Moscow’s most aggressive action since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Many in the Czech Republic denigrate Zeman as a “servant of the Kremlin” after he sided with Russia and questioned the findings of his own security and intelligence services on the alleged involvement of Russian spies in a massive bullet explosion. in 2014.

Until recent days, Zeman insisted that the Russians would not invade Ukraine because “they were not mad to launch an operation that would be more harmful for them than beneficial.”

“I admit I was wrong,” he said Thursday.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala also expressed full support for the strongest possible punishment for what he called “a completely unreasonable act of aggression against a sovereign state.”

Prague ordered the closure of two Russian consulates in the Czech Republic and stopped accepting visa requests from Russian citizens.

Orban in recent years has pursued a diplomatic and economic strategy he calls the “Eastern Opening,” which favors closer ties with countries in the east, and in his frequent struggles with the EU has called the 27- nation bloc as an oppressive imperial power similar to Hungary. former Soviet occupiers.

But on Thursday, Orban was clear in his condemnation of the Kremlin.

“Russia attacked Ukraine this morning using military force,” Orban said in a Facebook video. “Together with our European Union and NATO allies, we condemn Russia’s military action.”

“Hungary’s position is clear: we stand for Ukraine, we stand for the integrity and territorial sovereignty of Ukraine,” said its Foreign Minister Peter Szijijarto.

CHINA: EVERYTHING TOGETHER

China stood alone in not condemning the attack and instead accused the United States and its allies of exacerbating the crisis.

In defense of Moscow, “China called on the parties to respect the legitimate security concerns of others.”

“We still hope that the parties concerned will not close the door to peace and instead engage in dialogue and consultation and prevent the situation from escalating further,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

Chunying said that “all parties should work for peace rather than increase tension or hyping up the possibility of war.”

The two governments announced an agreement on Feb. 8 for China to import Russian wheat and barley after Putin became the highest-profile foreign guest to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics. Russia, one of the largest producers of wheat, would be weak if foreign markets were closed.

The information for this article was contributed by Raf Casert, Sam Petrequin, Karel Janicek and staff of The Associated Press and Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post.