The United States' allies and adversaries alike watched in shock and called for peace in Washington, DC, on Wednesday as a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters who have been led to believe that the election was stolen stormed the Capitol building.
Insurrectionists loyal to Trump, including some from violent far-right groups, rushed through police lines and broke into the Capitol, disrupting the process to formalize Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
As lawlessness and chaos unfolding inside Congress made headlines around the world, Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, tweeted that “the enemies of democracy will be thrilled to see these unbelievable pictures from #WashingtonDC.” He also called on Trump to finally accept his election defeat.
“Riotous words turn into violent acts — on the steps of the Reichstag, and now in the #Capitol,” Maas added. “The disdain for democratic institutions is devastating.”
In London, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the scenes “disgraceful.”
“The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power,” he said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his people were "deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States."
"Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people," Trudeau said. "Democracy in the US must be upheld — and it will be."
In Brussels, the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, who has had a combative and uneasy relationship with Trump due to the president’s criticism of the security alliance, called the violence “shocking” — a statement that carried added weight considering similar statements are typically made by him during moments of great unrest in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
“The outcome of this democratic election must be respected,” Stoltenberg tweeted.
Several other foreign officials and leaders also weighed in, including the European Commission president:
The Spanish prime minister:
The Australian prime minister:
And Norway’s foreign ministry:
Carl Bildt, Sweden's former prime minister and current cochair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted that the violence and occupation of the Capitol signaled “the looting of democracy."
He included in his message a photo of a grinning man wearing a Trump beanie and carrying a lectern that had the seal of the speaker of the House of Representatives.
The scenes of violence were especially shocking to those for whom the US has been a model of freedom and democracy.
Two Eastern European officials told BuzzFeed News that the scenes were more reminiscent of events in eastern Ukraine in 2014, when Russia-backed separatists stormed government buildings after the country’s Moscow-friendly president was overthrown. They also compared it to what happened in Kyrgyzstan in October, when opposition party supporters occupied the Parliament building after elections deemed to be fraudulent.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because their countries rely on the US for support.
One of them said that they “would never imagine this would happen in the United States.”
“It’s insane,” the official added.
Turkey, a NATO country that faced its own coup attempt in 2016, urged a calm and lawful solution. “We call on all parties in the US to maintain restraint and prudence,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “We believe the US will overcome this internal political crisis in a mature manner."
The ministry also advised Turkish citizens in the US to avoid crowded areas and places where protests were taking place.
Venezuela, a frequent Trump boogeyman for the dangers of socialism, also issued a statement that feigned concern about the violence in the US, which has said the Venezuelan elections are illegitimate. "Venezuela condemns the political polarization and spiraling violence, which call for reflection on the profound crisis that the political and social system of the United States is experiencing at this time," read the statement. "With this regrettable episode, the United States is suffering from the same thing that it has caused in other countries with its policy of aggression."
As dusk fell over an embattled Washington, DC, Trump posted a one-minute video on Twitter urging the crowd he had previously incited to rise up to stand down — but not before again falsely claiming that he had defeated Biden by a “landslide in the election.”