Dutch PM condemns Russia's attack on Ukraine; Illegal act, Defense Min. says
The Netherlands "strongly condemns the Russian attack on Ukraine," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. "Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people." The Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine is "an illegal act of aggression with serious consequences," Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said. Russia launched its attack on Ukraine during the early hours of Thursday morning. There have been reports of explosions in multiple Ukrainian cities, as well as Russian troops in the coastal towns of Mariupol and Odesa.
The Dutch Prime Minister and the most involved Ministers will meet on Thursday morning for emergency consultations. "We are in close consultation with EU, NATO, and other allies," Rutte said on Twitter. Later in the day, he will travel to Brussels for a previously scheduled EU summit on the conflict with Russia. Parliament is also discussing the situation in Ukraine.
"Despite our repeated calls for diplomacy and de-escalation, Russia has launched an attack on Ukraine," Ollongren said on Twitter. "We are in close contact with our allies in NATO and the EU."
Russia will pay a "heavy price" for invading Ukraine, Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs said. He too stressed that the Netherlands condemns the attack and that the Cabinet is in contact with EU and NATO partners.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an unannounced speech on Russian state television early on Thursday morning, announcing a military operation in Ukraine. According to Ukraine, the attack is not only coming from Russia. Russian troops are also attacking the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea and neighboring Belarus.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced martial law in an early-morning speech to his. According to Zelensky, "explosions have been heard in many Ukrainian cities," including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, and Kramatorsk. Images on social media show black plumes of smoke rising at the military airport of Kharkiv. Rocket attacks were hitting military infrastructure, he said. Russian troops also attacked Ukrainian border guards. The president advised residents of his country to stay home as much as possible.
The air-raid siren sounded in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv at around 7:00 a.m. local time, though no missiles had been sighted yet. The same happened in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, in the west of the country, a bit later. Several western countries, including the Netherlands, moved their embassies to Lviv earlier this month. AFP news agency reported no immediate reports of explosions or shelling.
Reporting by ANP