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World leaders condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine: "A turning point in the history of Europe"

World leaders react to invasion of Ukraine
World leaders condemn Russia after Putin launches an invasion of Ukraine 02:10

World leaders are denouncing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with President Joe Biden saying it will "bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering," and the head of the European Union calling it "barbaric."

The world is largely vowing to make Russian President Vladimir Putin pay, on the first day of what threatens to be Europe's largest land war in more than 75 years.

Japan, Australia and Canada are among the nations that have issued statements condemning the attack, which has also triggered a wave of anger across Europe — with its leaders demanding Russia stop the invasion.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the world cannot look away, and promised to retaliate with an unprecedented level of sanctions.

"President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine," he said. "This is a catastrophe for our continent."

French President Emmanuel Macron said the events of last night, when Russia began its attack, "mark a turning point in the history of Europe" and France. 

"We will respond to this act of war unwaveringly and with composure, determination and unity," he said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Putin is responsible for bringing war back to Europe.

"We will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to key technologies and markets," she said. "We will weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernize."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a press conference on Russia's military operation in Ukraine, at NATO headquarters in Brussels on February 24, 2022.  JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

"In addition, we will freeze Russian assets in the E.U. and stop the access of Russian banks to the European financial market," she said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning the war could trigger a humanitarian catastrophe, saying it would "cause a level of suffering not seen in Europe since the Balkan crisis."

One nation, China, is taking a different tack, with a Chinese foreign military spokeswoman refusing on Thursday morning to describe Russia's military assault as an "invasion," but urging all sides to show restraint.

Following the invasion, which is a flagrant violation of international law, Putin now faces a wall of solidarity from the West and an incoming wave of economic pain.

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