Western nations announce first reactions to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

European Union leaders are to discuss new sanctions on Russia at an emergency meeting later on Thursday in reaction to its attack on Ukraine, the bloc has said. At a press conference, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for “bringing war back to Europe” in an “unprecedented act of aggression … against a sovereign, independent country.” “Russia’s target is not only the Donbas; the target is not just Ukraine; the target is the stability of Europe and the whole of the international peace order,” she said. She said new EU sanctions would be imposed on Russia’s access to “key technologies and markets.” The bloc would also freeze Russian assets in Europe and block Moscow’s access to European financial markets,” she added. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the raft of sanctions to be discussed at the meeting were the “strongest, the harshest package” ever considered. Russian tanks have entered Ukraine in the Luhansk region as well as from Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, Ukraine’s border guard service reports. The border guard also reported one casualty from shelling on the border with Crimea, the first confirmed military death during the invasion. Earlier Ukraine said eight people had died in the shelling. Police in Ukraine have said they are distributing weapons to vetrans. Russia’s Defense Ministry said its air campaign against Ukraine was not targeting cities and did not pose a threat to civilians, according to the Russian state-run RIA news agency.