24 February 2022, by Victoria Séveno   |  Updated: 24 February 2022

Prime Minister Mark Rutte has responded to news of Russia’s military attack on Ukraine, and has condemned the Russian President’s actions: “one man is responsible…that man is Vladimir Putin.”

Russia launches attack on Ukraine

In the early hours of Thursday morning, news broke that Russia had launched an attack on Ukraine, only days after President Vladimir Putin insisted Russian troops had been ordered into Ukraine as part of a “peacekeeping mission.”

Russia is reported to have launched airstrikes against various Ukrainian cities, with Putin announcing in a surprise speech on Russian television on Wednesday night that the country would “launch a special military operation in Ukraine.” The Russian Defence Ministry is adamant that only military stations would be targeted, and that civilians would not be at risk.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has introduced martial law and has urged his people to remain calm. The country has already reported hundreds of casualties. Other countries in the region have also declared a state of emergency, with the President of Moldova announcing the country is prepared to welcome tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

Mark Rutte promises sanctions, says attack cannot go unanswered 

As the news broke, Rutte issued a statement on Twitter in which he said the Netherlands “strongly condemns” the attacks, and that “our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people.” Speaking to the press in The Hague on Thursday morning, the Dutch Prime Minister said it was a “dark day for Ukraine, Europe, and the whole world.”

“There is one country, and one man responsible. That country is Russia, that man is Vladimir Putin,” Rutte went on to say. “This cannot go unanswered now.” He has voiced his support for “maximum sanctions” against Russia in response to this “unprecedented act of aggression.” 

EU meets to discuss possible sanctions

Other political leaders have also spoken out against the attack, and the European Union has already confirmed that the bloc will introduce new, tougher sanctions that will have “enormous and serious consequences” for Russia. 

In response to the “barbaric attack, Reuters reports that EU leaders will freeze Russian assets and stop Russian banks from being able to access the European financial markets. “With this package, we will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to key technologies and markets,” explained President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.  “We will weaken Russia’s economic base and its capacity to modernise.”

Russia’s invasion has already had far-reaching international impacts. Since the news broke this morning, stock markets around the world have fallen, and oil and gas prices have risen by 6 percent and 22 percent respectively.

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