Boris Johnson To Chair Cobra Meeting As Putin Declares War On Ukraine

Explosions were heard across the country last night after the Russian president launched a 'special military operation' in the Donbas.
Johnson said Putin had “chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction”.
Johnson said Putin had “chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction”.
WPA Pool via Getty Images

Boris Johnson will chair a Cobra meeting this morning after Russia launched a “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine.

Explosions were heard across Ukraine minutes after Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, announced there would be a “special military operation” in the Donbas region where where Russian-backed separatists have won his favour.

However, reports last night suggested bombs were being dropped in at least seven locations, including the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Sky News reported that eight people had been killed and nine people had been wounded.

Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, called the attack a “full-scale invasion” and said “peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes”.

“This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now,” he said.

A Downing Street spokesperson said this morning: “The prime minister will chair a COBR at 7.30 to discuss the response to the horrific attacks in Ukraine this morning.”

In a televised address last night, Putin accused the Ukrainian government of committing “genocide” in the eastern part of the country — a claim that has been roundly dismissed as complete fabrication.

He warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences they have never seen”.

Putin accused the US and its Western allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining the military alliance Nato, and offer Moscow security guarantees.

He previously said that regions of Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists should be treated as independent and approved a military deployment into the country in what Western officials called an invasion.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly accused Putin of peddling “disinformation and lies” and “false flag activities” as a pretext to justify what he called an “unprovoked and unprecedented” attack.

Asked by Sky News what he thought Putin was trying to achieve, Cleverly said: “He is trying to recreate a Russian empire in his mind, claim back places which he defines as Russia.

“But the international community recognises that these are individual sovereign states.

“Ukraine is not part of Russia and the fantasy that Vladimir Putin is trying to play out in recreating some kind of czarist expansionist Russia absolutely has to be stopped.”

Journalists in Ukrainian cities began reporting explosions shortly after the conclusion of Putin’s broadcast.

US president Joe Biden called Russia’s “premeditated war” an “unprovoked and unjustified attack”.

“The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces,” he said in a statement.

“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. 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.”

Biden said he would use a G7 meeting on Thursday morning to draw up “further consequences” for Russia’s action.

He said: “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.”

Johnson said Putin has “chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction”.

Johnson said he is “appalled by the horrific events” in Ukraine and that he had spoken to its president Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss “next steps”.

“I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to president Zelenskyy to discuss next steps,” the prime minister tweeted.

“President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

“The UK and our allies will respond decisively.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer said Putin’s attack on Ukraine was “unprovoked and unjustifiable” and would have “horrendous and tragic consequences that will echo throughout the world and throughout history”.

“There can be no space for equivocation when faced with the evil that Putin has unleashed,” he said. “His actions pose a grave threat to the international order on which we all depend.

“I know people in this country will be feeling worried and uncertain. And I know that Ukrainians and Russians here in the UK will be worrying for friends and family back home. Our hearts are with them today.

“We must now match our rhetoric with action. We must urgently reinforce our Nato allies.

“The hardest possible sanctions must be taken against all those linked to Putin. The influence of Russian money must be extricated from the UK. And those who have for too long turned a blind eye to Russia’s actions must reckon with their own consciences.”


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