The world woke up this morning (Thursday 24th February) to the breaking news that Russia had begun an invasion of Ukraine.
The threat which has been looming for the past several weeks came despite repeated claims by Russia that such an attack was not its intention.
In an address shortly before the attack was launched on several areas of Ukraine, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin claimed that the move was in response to Ukrainian genocide against pro-Russia separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.
That claim has been rejected by many western leaders as a pretext for Russia’s action.
The attack has been condemned at an emergency meeting of the United Nations and there are calls for a further intensification of sanctions against the Russian state, and directly targeting President Putin and his supporters.
Early on Thursday British Prime Minister Boris Johnson put out a Tweet saying: "I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to (Ukraine's) President Zelensky to discuss next steps."
Mr Johnson further stated: "President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine. The UK and our allies will respond decisively."
Shortly after the operation began US President Joe Biden also issued a statement saying: "The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring."
President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow's response will be "instant" if anyone tries to take on Russia
While military action by the western NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) allies was not seen as an immediate response to the attack, further sanctions were expected starting as early as Thursday targeting the Russian economy, especially its ability to finance its military.
The assets of pro-Putin Russian investors were also being targeted, especially property and financial investments in Western capitals.
It’s reported that hundreds of billions of dollars have flowed into London and Britain's overseas territories from Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and London has become the Western city of choice for the super-wealthy of Russia and other former Soviet republics.
Wealthy Russians with close ties to President Putin are known to have heavily invested in the London property market with reports that “dirty Russian money is being laundered in London" leading to the capital being labelled as the "London laundromat” and “Londongrad”.
In an earlier series of sanctions this week, US President Biden said the goal was to make it difficult for Russia - and Mr Putin’s allies - to transact any business in US currency and to block Russia from the global SWIFT banking transaction system.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the UK was also targeting the so-called “golden visas” issued to Russian oligarchs and other wealthy Russian nationals living in the UK.
The Tier 1 visa system which offers British residency routes to those investing at least £2m was also being reviewed for some Russian nationals who support the Putin government.
News of the Russian attack on Ukraine has already impacted energy prices with oil prices already surging past $100 a barrel.
Russia is the second biggest exporter of crude oil, and is also the world's largest natural gas exporter.