Olympics
OlympicsReuters

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday blasted Russia for violating an "Olympic Truce" with its attack on Ukraine.

Hours after Moscow began invading Ukraine, the IOC said in a statement quoted by AFP that it "strongly condemns the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government."

The statement pointed out that all 193 UN member states had agreed last December to a global truce beginning seven days before the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing on February 4 and ending seven days after the closing of the Paralympic Games on March 13.

Russian President Vladimir Putin early Thursday morning launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, killing dozens and forcing hundreds to flee for their lives.

"Today, IOC President Thomas Bach reiterates his call for peace, which he expressed in his speeches at the opening Ceremony and the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games," the statement said.

The IOC also said that "following recent events," it was "deeply concerned about the safety of the Olympic Community in Ukraine."

The IOC has "established a task force to closely monitor the situation and to coordinate humanitarian assistance to members of the Olympic Community in Ukraine where possible," said the statement.

The European Council earlier on Thursday condemned Russia's military aggression against Ukraine.

In a joint statement, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia's unprecedented military aggression against Ukraine."

"By its unprovoked and unjustified military actions, Russia is grossly violating international law and undermining European and global security and stability. We deplore the loss of life and the human suffering.

"We call on Russia to immediately cease the hostilities, withdraw its military from Ukraine and fully respect Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. Such use of force and coercion has no place in the 21st century. The EU stands firmly by Ukraine and its people as they face this unparalleled crisis."

Later in the day, European Union (EU) leaders agreed to impose new economic sanctions on Russia, though they stopped stop short of taking steps to cut Russia off from the SWIFT global interbank payments system.