Update Feb. 24 3:38 p.m.
Biden announced that the U.S. would impose new sanctions on Russia targeting the elites. Biden did not go into detail in his explanation but said that the sanctions would additionally restrict Russian military growth.
“Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war and now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said during his address.
Lawmakers from both parties called for an increased response to Russia last night demanding Biden exercise all sanctions possible on the Russian government.
Just after 10 p.m. Ann Arbor time, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a “special military operation” in the Donbas region of Ukraine, according to reports from The New York Times. CNN journalists in the region reported multiple explosions in the eastern area of Ukraine as well as in Kyiv, the country’s capital.
The Russian invasion follows months of heightened tensions between the two nations after Russian began military exercises in Belarus near the Ukrainian border on Feb. 10. The United States estimated over 190,000 Russian soldiers occupied the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine reported Russian forces entered the country through its borders with Crimea and Belarus, according to CNN.
Russian troops have remained in the western region of Ukraine since their initial invasion in 2014, but concern rose among Western countries after increased military buildup was reported in recent weeks, according to BBC News. BBC also reported satellite photos showing forces gathering near the Ukraine-Russia border and tanks sightings in separatist-controlled Donetsk.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, called on world leaders to take swift action in a tweet late Wednesday.
“Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes,” Kuleba wrote. “This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”
The tweet went on to call for sanctions and international isolation of Russia. Reports from CNN show Ukrainian citizens evacuating targeted cities, including Kharkiv and Kyiv. Kharkiv mayor Igor Terekhov warned citizens not to leave their homes, according to CNN.
U.S. President Joe Biden called the Russian attack “unprovoked and unjustified” in a press release late Wednesday night and noted the unified international response to the invasion.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden wrote. “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.”
In a televised speech just hours before the invasion, Putin said he decided to invade Ukraine after leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk called for Russian help. Putin recognized the two regions as independent on Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal. Putin said his goal was to “demilitarize” but not occupy Ukraine.
At the same time, the United Nations held an emergency meeting Wednesday night, at which Ukrainian ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya called on his Russian counterpart, Vassily Nebenzia, to say Russia will not bomb Ukrainian cities. As reports first broke on the explosions, Kyslytsya called for another emergency meeting “to stop the war because it’s too late to talk about de-escalation,” as reported by PBS.
The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine acknowledged the attack in a tweet early Thursday morning.
“We are aware of military engagements within Ukraine,” the tweet read. “We will continue to monitor and provide updates. Americans are encourage to monitor this account and @TravelGov as we issue updates”
Biden is set to meet with the G7 Conference Thursday morning to discuss the international response to the invasion, according to his Wednesday evening press release. The White House released an additional press release, following a conversation between Biden and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I will be meeting with the Leaders of the G7, and the United States and our Allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia,” the press release said. “We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”
In a press release obtained by The Michigan Daily, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., noted his confidence in the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The United States and our allies have successfully galvanized an international coalition to counter Russian aggression; now we must refuse to stand by and watch innocent Ukrainian men, women, and children suffer,” Menendez wrote in the press release. “As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I am committed to ensuring that the United States upholds our responsibility to exact maximum costs on Putin, the Russian economy, and those who enabled and facilitated this trampling of Ukraine’s sovereignty.”
Additionally, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, said that America will stand strong with its international allies, in a press release sent Thursday morning.
“I share the horror of the many Ukrainian-Americans in Michigan of this brutal, unprovoked, and unjustified attack by President Putin on the people of Ukraine,” Stabenow wrote. “America will stand strong with all of our allies to do everything we can to protect their freedom and independence and save lives.”
U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich, noted his condolences for the Ukraine citizens affected by the invasion, in a press release sent Thursday morning.
“My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine, who are victims of this unprovoked war, and I stand with the American people — including the more than 39,000 Michiganders of Ukrainian descent — in opposing this aggression,” Peters wrote.
Update 2/24: This article has been updated to include statements from U.S. Senators Gary Peters, D-Mich, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
Daily News Editor Shannon Stocking can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.