“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,” Biden said in a White House statement issued late Wednesday (February 23) evening local time. “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.”
Putin criticized the U.S. and its allies during his announcement, claiming, “everything is clear, the U.S. doesn’t seek to negotiate with Russia… so what do we do next? Why wait?”
“This is a matter of live or death,” Putin said via NBC News. “It’s a threat against the existence of the Russian people.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the country was prepared to defend itself against Russian attacks and referred to Putin’s decision to conduct a military operation as “a war of aggression,” NBC News‘ Alana Satlin reported.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement condemning “Russia’s reckless and unprovoked attack” and a “serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security” after reports of booms and explosions heard in Kyiv early Thursday morning.
“Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country,” Stoltenberg said in a statement obtained by NBC News.
“NATO Allies will meet to address the consequences of Russia’s aggressive actions,” he added, calling for Russia to cease military action in Ukraine. “We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend all Allies.”
The attacks come after reports of more than 100,000 Russian military troops being present on three sides of the neighboring Ukraine, according to the Associated Press.