The Latest: Romania: Putin threatens peace of whole planet
BUCHAREST, Romania — The president of Romania has condemned Russia’s “reprehensible” attack on Ukraine and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “threatens the peace of the entire planet.”
Romania borders Ukraine and is a member of NATO and the European Union. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that Russia “chose the reprehensible and completely illegal path of massive armed violence against an independent and sovereign state.”
Iohannis said that Romania, a country of about 19.5 million people, is ready to deal with economic and humanitarian consequences that the conflict could generate.
He stressed that Romania will not be drawn into the military conflict in Ukraine and said Romanian authorities will take “absolutely all the necessary measures” to ensure the safety of the country’s citizens.
PRAGUE — Czech President Milos Zeman, who has been a leading pro-Russian voice among European Union leaders, has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “an unprovoked act of aggression.”
Zeman said in an address to the nation that “Russia has committed a crime against peace.”
A week ago, Zeman said that warnings of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine were a failure by CIA. He said repeatedly he didn’t believe Russian wanted to attack Ukraine.
“I admit I was wrong,” Zeman said Thursday. “An irrational decision by the leadership of the Russian Federation will cause significant damages to the Russian state.”
He called for harder sanctions against Russia, declaring that “it’s necessary to isolate a lunatic and not just to defend ourselves by words but also by deeds.”
BRUSSELS — NATO’s secretary-general says Russia has launched war on Ukraine and shattered peace on the European continent.
Jens Stoltenberg called for a summit of NATO alliance leaders for Friday.
Stoltenberg said that “this is a deliberate, cold-blooded and long-planned invasion.” And he charged that “Russia is using force to try to rewrite history.”
Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine earlier Thursday, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling. Ukraine’s government said Russian tanks and troops rolled across the border.
HELSINKI — NATO member Lithuania, which has borders with Russian ally Belarus and Russia's exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, has declared a state of emergency effective early Thursday afternoon due to the situation in Ukraine.
The decree signed Thursday by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda steps up border protection. It gives authorities, among other things, the right to check and inspect vehicles, persons and luggage in the border area.
Lithuania also borders fellow NATO and European Union members Poland and Latvia.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has called on Russia to halt what it describes as “unfair and unlawful” actions in Ukraine.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement on Thursday said the Russian attacks were “unacceptable” and that Turkey “rejects” them.
“This attack, beyond destroying the Minsk agreements, is a grave violation of international law and poses a serious threat to the security of our region and of the world,” the ministry statement said, referring to deals that aimed to restore peace in eastern Ukraine.
The statement added that Turkey opposes moves that “change borders through the use of weapons.”
BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, calling it a “dark day for Europe” and expressing his country’s “full solidarity with Kyiv.”
Scholz said in a statement at the chancellery in Berlin on Thursday that new sanctions to be imposed on Russia by Germany and its allies would show that “Putin has made a serious mistake with his war.”
Addressing NATO allies in eastern Europe, Scholz said Germany understood their worries in light of the latest developments and stands by its commitments within the alliance.
Scholz said he and French President Emmanuel Macron proposed soon holding an in-person meeting of the heads of government of NATO member states.
BRUSSELS — NATO has agreed to beef up its land, sea and air forces on its eastern flank near Ukraine and Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military offensive in Ukraine.
NATO ambassadors said in a statement after emergency talks Thursday that “we have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies.”
While some of NATO’s 30 member countries are supplying arms, ammunition and other equipment to Ukraine, NATO as an organization is not. It will not launch any military action in support of Ukraine.