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World Reacts to Russia's Actions Toward Ukraine

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A man holds a poster in support of Ukraine as he attends a demonstration near the Russian embassy to protest against the escalation of the tension between Russia and Ukraine in Berlin, Germany, Feb. 22, 2022.

Governments around the world have responded to Russia’s recognition of breakaway areas in eastern Ukraine as independent states, with many condemning the move and urging a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.

“We must make it clear that an attack on Ukraine is an attack on the sovereignty of every U.N. member state and the U.N. charter — and that it will be met with swift and severe consequences,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said late Monday. “We continue to believe that the diplomatic table is the only place where responsible nations resolve their differences.”

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the U.N. leader considered Russia’s decision “inconsistent with the principles” of the U.N. Charter and a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement early Tuesday calling Russia’s action a “clear violation of Ukraine’s political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian condemned Russia’s move and said it would be met with sanctions.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU would not deploy its full range of sanctions at this time but would impose measures in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcements on Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a document recognizing the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine in the Kremlin in Moscow, Feb. 21, 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a document recognizing the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine in the Kremlin in Moscow, Feb. 21, 2022.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to impose a “very robust package of sanctions” if Russian invades Ukraine and called Putin’s actions a “flagrant violation” of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, called on all parties to exercise restraint and to “seek reasonable solutions.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry also urged restraint, while blaming “the interventions and provocative actions of NATO and mainly the U.S.” for complicating the situation in the region.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “Every indication is that Russia is continuing to plan for a full-scale attack of Ukraine," adding, "We continue to call on Russia to step back. ... It's never too late not to attack."

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called Russia’s actions “unacceptable” and said Japan “is watching the development with grave concern.”

State television in Syria, an ally that has relied on Russian military support during its own conflict, quoted Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad as saying that Syria backs Russia’s decision “and will cooperate with them.”

Greece’s Foreign Ministry said Russia’s action is “a clear violation of fundamental principles of international law, Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and the Minsk agreements.”

A military truck drives along a street in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine Feb. 22, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine following the recognition of their independence.
A military truck drives along a street in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine Feb. 22, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine following the recognition of their independence.

The Minsk deals, in 2014 and 2015, intended to restore peace after violence flared along the Russia-Ukraine border.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russia “is breaking all its promises to the world community.”

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry expressed “serious concern” about the escalation of tensions along the Russia-Ukraine border and its support for “the sovereignty and territorial preservation of Ukraine.”

International Rescue Committee’s Lani Fortier warned the “Humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine must be avoided at all costs. If war breaks out, the consequences for the Ukrainian people, and for Europe, cannot be overstated.”

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters. VOA's William Gallo contributed to this story.

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