WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced a raft of new sanctions against Russia he said would cut off its government from Western financing and punish elites who benefit from the Kremlin’s corrupt policies, after President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to move into the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine.
“These have been closely coordinated with our allies and partners, and we’ll continue to escalate sanctions if Russia escalates,” Biden said in remarks from the White House Tuesday afternoon, calling Putin’s moves “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
The latest package would issue sanctions on two major Russian banks and on the country’s sovereign debt, meaning it can no longer raise money from the West and trade new debt on U.S. or European markets, the president said. Starting tomorrow, the U.S. will also impose sanctions on Russian elites and their family members, he added.
Biden called the moves “the first tranche” of punitive measures the U.S. is prepared to take, and he said they would go far beyond the steps the U.S. and its allies took in response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.
“This is a flagrant violation of international law, and it demands a firm response from the international community,” he said of Putin’s decision to send Russian forces into the territories.
Biden also said the U.S. would continue to provide defensive assistance to Ukraine in the meantime, and said he has authorized additional movements of U.S. forces and equipment already stationed in Europe “to strengthen our Baltic allies — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuanian.”
“Let me be clear, these are totally defensive moves on our part,” he said. “We have no intention of fighting Russia. 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.”