West must cease Russian oil dependence to release Putin 'grip' on Europe: UK's Johnson

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United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that the West must end its dependence on Russian fuel or else be subject to Russian President Vladimir Putin's continued whims, as Putin launched a full-scale war on Ukraine. 

"President Putin of Russia has unleashed war on our European continent. He has attacked a friendly country without any provocation and without any credible excuse," Johnson said in an address to the British people. 

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Johnson further promised that the U.K. and its allies would unleash punishing sanctions against Russia. And he said Europe must fundamentally change its energy policy in response to the crisis. 

"Today in concert with our allies we will agree a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy. And to that end we must also collectively cease the dependence on Russian oil and gas that for too long has given Putin his grip on western politics," Johnson said. 

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers an address on the attack by Russia on Ukraine, in Downing Street, London, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (Jeff Mitchell /Pool Photo via AP / AP Newsroom)

"Our mission is clear," he added. "Diplomatically, politically, economically and eventually militarily, this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure."

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After months of military buildup along Ukraine's borders, Russian forces began a complete attack on Ukraine as Putin declared a "special military operation" in the country. That was in the morning, Ukrainian time, and late evening U.S. time.

In this image made from video released by the Russian Presidential Press Service, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressees the nation in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.  (Russian Presidential Press Service via AP / AP Newsroom)

Air raid sirens and explosions could be heard in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, throughout Thursday. Massive plumes of smoke were also visible in the area. 

President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy early Thursday morning, according to the White House. He is expected to speak at noon Thursday and announce a raft of further sanctions against Russia. 

President Biden listens to a reporters question after delivering remarks on the November jobs report, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP Photo/Evan Vucci / AP Newsroom)

Johnson's comments on the Russian war on Ukraine were particularly firm as he emphasized how close Ukraine is to the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. 

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"This is not, in the infamous phrase, some faraway country of which we know little. We have Ukrainian friends in this country – neighbors, coworkers. Ukraine is a country that for decades has enjoyed freedom and democracy and the right to choose its own destiny," Johnson said. 

"We will work with them for however long it takes to ensure that the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine is restored because this act of wanton and reckless aggression is an attack not just on Ukraine. It's an attack on democracy and freedom in Eastern Europe and around the world," Johnson added. "This crisis is about the right of a free covering independent European people to choose their own future. And that is a right that the UK will always defend."

Fox News' Trey Yingst and Peter Doocy contributed to this report. 

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