WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Thursday afternoon made an address regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict after Russian troops officially invaded the former Soviet nation, despite diplomatic efforts to prevent such an attack.
Biden announced new sanctions against Russia in an effort to alter Russian President Putin’s course of action.
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Here’s what you missed: Biden hits Russia with new sanctions, says Putin ‘chose’ war
Watch live NBC coverage of the Russia-Ukraine crisis in the video player below.
Russia launched an attack on Ukraine Thursday after weeks of tension at the Russia-Ukraine border and warnings from leaders around the world that an invasion was imminent, despite Putin claiming that troops stationed at the border were withdrawing.
The AP reports: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
The plant was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident when a nuclear reactor exploded in April 1986, spewing radioactive waste across Europe. The plant lies 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital of Kyiv.
The exploded reactor has been covered by a protective shelter to prevent radiation leak and the entire plant has been decommissioned.
Zelenskyy said on Twitter that “our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.” He added that “this is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”
In unleashing Moscow’s most aggressive action since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, President Vladimir Putin deflected global condemnation and cascading new sanctions — and chillingly referred to his country’s nuclear arsenal. He threatened any foreign country attempting to interfere with “consequences you have never seen.”
Watch live coverage: Russia begins military invasion of Ukraine
Sirens wailed in Ukraine’s capital, large explosions were heard there and in other cities, and people massed in train stations and took to roads, as the government said the former Soviet republic was seeing a long-anticipated invasion from the east, north and south. Within hours of the first word of the attack, Ukraine said it was fighting Russian troops just miles from the capital for control of a strategic airport.
The chief of the NATO alliance said the “brutal act of war” shattered peace in Europe, joining a chorus of world leaders who decried the attack, which could cause massive casualties, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government and upend the post-Cold War security order. The conflict was already shaking global financial markets: Stocks plunged and oil prices soared amid concerns that heating bills and food prices would skyrocket.
Condemnation rained down not only from the U.S. and Europe, but from South Korea, Australia and beyond — and many governments readied new sanctions. Even friendly leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban sought to distance themselves from Putin.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cut diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial law.
“As of today, our countries are on different sides of world history,” Zelenskyy tweeted. “Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won’t give up its freedom.”
His adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said: “A full-scale war in Europe has begun. ... Russia is not only attacking Ukraine, but the rules of normal life in the modern world.”
While some nervous Europeans speculated about a possible new world war, the U.S. and its NATO partners have so far shown no indication they would join in a war against Russia. They instead mobilized troops and equipment around Ukraine’s western flank — as Ukraine pleaded for defense assistance and help protecting its airspace.
In Washington, President Joe Biden convened a meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday to discuss Ukraine as the U.S. prepares new sanctions. Biden administration officials have signaled that two of the measures they were considering most strongly include hitting Russia’s biggest banks and slapping on new export controls meant to starve Russia’s industries and military of U.S. semiconductors and other high-tech components.