Describing the latest actions by Russia as the beginning of an “invasion” of Ukraine, President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the “first tranche” of U.S. sanctions.
“I’m going to begin to impose sanctions in response, far beyond the steps we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014,” Biden said from the White House. “And if Russia goes further with this invasion, we stand prepared to go further as with sanctions.”
Biden said the U.S. will impose sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions, VEB and Russia’s military bank, and Russia’s sovereign debt as well as Russian elites and their family members.
The president also announced the U.S. has worked with Germany to ensure the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will not move forward, with Germany previously halting certification of the pipeline.
The sanctions announced by Biden come a day after the Russian government recognized two Ukrainian separatist regions – Donetsk and Luhansk – as sovereign states.
Russian President Vladimir Putin subsequently ordered troops into the territory as “peacekeepers,” intensifying a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war.
The U.K. also announced a “first tranche” of sanctions on Russia, targeting five Russian banks and three “very high net worth” individuals.
Biden also revealed that he has authorized additional movements of U.S. forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen Baltic allies but argued the moves are “totally defensive.”
“We have no intention of fighting Russia,” Biden said. “We want to send an unmistakable message though: that the United States together with our allies will defend every inch of NATO territory. And abide by the commitments we made to NATO.”
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