Hackney leaders have condemned the "unprovoked" invasion of Ukraine led by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which Putin claims is a "peacekeeping" mission, began on Thursday morning (February 24).

Military bombardments and attacks continue by land, sea and air and the attack has begun on the capital Kyiv.

The invasion marks the largest military assault launched by one European state on another since World War Two.

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier described President Putin's attack on Ukraine as "unprovoked", "unjustifiable" and a "crime against peace".

She added: "This is still a fast-moving situation but it is clear the government must act now and announce the harshest possible set of sanctions.

"I’ve also been in touch with Ukrainian citizens in Hackney to get direct feedback of the situation on-the-ground for ordinary Ukrainians."

The MP continued: "Hackney has a long history of pulling together and showing solidarity to members of our community whose families and loved ones face a dark future abroad. I know this crisis will be no exception.”

The Ukrainian foreign minister has said “horrific rocket strikes” have hit Kyiv in an attack he compared to the city’s 1941 shelling by Nazi Germany.

“Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany,” he tweeted.

“Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop Putin. Isolate Russia. Severe all ties."

On Twitter, Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville called for concerted action from the government and international community, to "hold the Russian government to account, deescalate the conflict, protect civilian life and restore dialogue".

He added: "Our thoughts must be with the people of Ukraine."

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We cannot and will not just look away."

He said the UK has sent defensive weaponry to help Ukraine as well as unveiling a "massive package of economic sanctions".

MPs, including Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott, have removed their signatures from a Stop the War letter criticising Nato's eastward expansion and Britain's "aggressive posturing" in the crisis.

The letter was published before the invasion on February 18. MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Claudia Webbe's names remain.

Ms Abbott told a meeting of the Stop the War Coalition earlier in the month (February 10): "The destabilisation in the entire region comes from the continued eastward expansion of Nato.

"We need to find peaceful solutions to a complicated conflict of identities and national rights."

The letter led to calls for Labour leader Keir Starmer to remove the whip from the 14 Labour Party members who signed the letter.

Mr Starmer said on Sky News on Friday: “Jeremy Corbyn was wrong about that but the Labour Party’s policy never shifted under his leadership and I’ve been very clear.”

He added that the “collective failure of the West” in the past response to Vladimir Putin may have emboldened the Russian president but described the party’s support for Nato as “unshakeable”.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace said Britain has been asked to provide more support to defend Ukrainian airspace.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “So first of all, anti-air is being supplied to the Ukrainians, and has been.

“A number of the Baltic states, the United States provided Stinger missiles, which has brought down clearly a number of Russian aircraft.

“The ability to defend their airspace from the ground has been enabled. And of course, there is more to do and we’ve been asked and a number of other nations for that.

He continued: “But to do a no-fly zone. I would have to put British fighter jets directly against Russian fighter jets.

"Nato would have to effectively declare war on Russia because that’s what you would do.”

The defence minister has since confirmed that British troops will not be sent to fight against Russia.

Russia has today banned British airlines from entering its airspace, following the banning of of Russian flag-carrier Aeroflot from UK airspace.