U.S. President Joe Biden has announced the first tranche of sanctions on Russia, following its decision to recognise the independence of certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Mr Biden, in a speech from the White House, said the Russian leader had committed “a flagrant violation of international law.”
According to him, Russia has now undeniably moved against Ukraine by declaring these independent states.
“So, today, I’m announcing the first tranche of sanctions to impose costs on Russia in response to their actions yesterday (Monday). These have been closely coordinated with our allies and partners, and we’ll continue to escalate sanctions if Russia escalates,” explained the U.S. president. “We’re implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions: V.E.B. and their military bank.”
He added, “We’re implementing comprehensive sanctions on Russian sovereign debt. That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing. It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either.’’
Mr Biden said the announcement made by Russia meant that it was carving out a big chunk of Ukraine.
“He’s setting up a rationale to take more territory by force, in my view. This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” noted Mr Biden.
That served as the trigger for the U.S. to impose sanctions. Mr Biden said Russia “will pay an even steeper price” if aggressions continue.
In addition, he mentioned that the U.S. would also impose sanctions on Russia’s elites and their family members, noting that they shared in the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain.
He said because of Russia’s actions, U.S. would work with Germany to ensure “owned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will not — as I promised — will not move forward.”
Mr Biden further stated, “As Russia contemplates its next move, we have our next move prepared as well. Russia will pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression, including additional sanctions. The United States will continue to provide defensive assistance to Ukraine in the meantime. And we’ll continue to reinforce and reassure our NATO Allies.’’
The U.S. leader said President Vladimir Putin had sought authorisation from the Russian parliament to use military force outside of Russian territory.
“And this set the stage for further pretexts and further provocations by Russia to try to justify further military action. None of us — none of us should be fooled. None of us will be fooled. There is no justification,” added Mr Biden. “Further Russian assault into Ukraine remains a severe threat in the days ahead. And if Russia proceeds, it is Russia, and Russia alone, that bears the responsibility.’’
Russian lawmakers approved Putin’s request for permission to use Russian troops outside of the country.
The UN Security Council met late on Monday in an emergency session, with many members condemning the Kremlin’s actions.