The world awakes to a new war in Europe. The levee of diplomatic deadlock finally broke shortly after 05.00 local time in eastern Ukraine and Russian troops have crossed the border in the east, north and south of the country. Distant explosions have been heard in the capital Kyiv and in other cities across the country. Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky broke diplomatic ties with Russia in a dramatic morning television address, calling on citizens to take up arms and defend their nation in city streets and squares; he called on Russian citizens to stand with Ukraine as well.
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has condemned Russia’s “cold-blooded” invasion of Ukraine as a “grave moment for Europe”. The 30-nation Western military alliance also held Article 4 self-defence consultations at the request of multiple eastern members and vowed to strengthen its collective defence. Joe Biden has said that Russia will be held accountable and EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen vowed to impose the “harshest sanctions” including shutting Russia out of financial markets. There will be multiple emergency meetings of Western leaders throughout the day to make these comments concrete. Sanctions drawn up in recent days had failed to deter Vladimir Putin on his path to war and there will be mounting pressure on leaders in Europe and the US to make good on prior threats to unleash their full arsenal of economic sanctions on Putin and his inner circle. The next few hours will be critical.
For full coverage of the war in Ukraine, listen to Monocle 24’s live news shows across the day, including The Briefing and The Monocle Daily. We will also be sending a special Monocle Minute update later today.