Biden Levels Sanctions on Russia for ‘Beginning’ Ukraine Invasion

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Joe Biden announced a “first tranche” of sanctions against Russia in a press conference Tuesday, describing Russian president Vladimir Putin’s order to send troops over the border on a purported peacekeeping mission as “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Full-blocking sanctions were levied against Russia’s military bank servicing the defense sector and the massive investment firm VEB, which marks the first time the U.S. has frozen the assets and cut off the transactions of a Russian state-owned financial institution. Biden also announced comprehensive sanctions on Russian sovereign debt, explaining that Moscow “can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either.” More sanctions are expected to come this week against Russian political leaders, who Biden said “share in the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well.” The president, who said he worked with Germany to stop further development of the pivotal Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, warned, “If Russia goes further in this invasion, we stand prepared to go further with sanctions.”

Biden announced that U.S. troops and equipment currently deployed in Europe would be moved to NATO member nations Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. “We have no intention of fighting Russia,” he said, but “will defend every inch of NATO territory.” He noted that economic steps taken against Russia could impact energy prices at home but said the administration is executing a plan to “blunt gas prices” together with other major oil-producing nations. “I’m going to take robust action to make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at the Russian economy, not ours.”

With Putin’s decision Monday night to send a limited number of forces into eastern Ukraine to support Moscow-backed separatists and Russian lawmakers voting to allow Putin to use military force outside the country Tuesday, a larger invasion appears imminent. But Biden concluded his speech by saying, “I’m hoping diplomacy is still available.”

Biden Sanctions Russia for ‘Beginning’ Ukraine Invasion