Joe Biden announced new sanctions on Russia as he accused Vladimir Putin of beginning an “invasion” of Ukraine, and warned that Washington was prepared to take further action if Moscow escalates its assault on Ukrainian territory.
Speaking from the White House on Tuesday, Biden unveiled measures targeting two of Russia’s largest financial institutions, VEB and its military bank, as well as targeting Russian elites and their family members.
Sanctions would also be aimed at preventing the Russian state from accessing US capital and financial markets, said Biden. “That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” Biden said. “It can no longer raise money from the west and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either.”
Biden said Washington was prepared to go further if Russia continued its invasion. In recognizing the two breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent, Biden said, Putin had “bizarrely asserted that these regions are no longer part of Ukraine and their sovereign territory.”
“To put it simply, Russia just announced that it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine,” said Biden. “He is setting up a rationale to take more territory by force in my view. . . He’s setting up a rationale to go much further. This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. “
Biden said he was taking measures to ensure US sanctions affected the Russian economy, and not America’s. But he also acknowledged that “defending freedom” in Europe would impose costs at home.
Earlier on Tuesday, Putin endorsed the claims of Russian-backed separatists to the entire Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, taking the countries closer to full-blown conflict. Russia’s upper house of parliament unanimously approved a “peacekeeping” mission to the Donbas.