Biden says U.S. will sanction Russian financial firms, sovereign debt and individuals after Ukraine incursion

President Joe Biden speaks about Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington.

Alex Brandon | AP

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Russia has begun “an invasion” of Ukraine, and he announced sweeping sanctions on a major Russian bank VEB and its military bank.

The sanctions will prohibit American financial institutions from processing transactions for VEB and its military bank. This would effectively cut the banks out of transactions involving US dollars, the global reserve currency.

Biden’s announcement came after Russia’s parliament approved President Vladimir Putin’s request on Tuesday to use military force outside the country’s borders, a development that appears designed to authorize a broader attack on Ukraine.

Biden also announced that the United States would implement comprehensive sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt.

“That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade its new debt on our markets. Or European markets either.”

In addition to the sanctions on VEB and Russian debt, Biden said in the days ahead he would sanction individual Russians in Putin’s inner circle.

Russian elites and their family members, he said, “share the corrupt gains of the Kremlin’s policies, and so they ought to share in the pain as well.”

Until Tuesday, Biden had not used the word “invasion” himself to describe the Russian military deployment in the two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine.

Biden has long promised to impose severe economic sanctions against Russia if Moscow further invades Ukraine, but the White House had not said specifically what they would be.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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