President Joe Biden announced an expansive sanctions package against Russian banks and elites Tuesday, as the West responds to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of two separatist states in eastern Ukraine and decision to send troops to the region, moves Biden called a “beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on developments in Ukraine and Russia, and announces sanctions … [+] against Russia, from the East Room of the White House February 22, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Biden said the measures mark the “first tranche” of U.S. sanctions against Russia during Tuesday afternoon remarks, and warned more sanctions will follow should Putin launch a wider invasion of Ukraine.
The sanctions include the “full blocking” of two Russian banks, including the large financial institution VEB, and preventing Russia from accessing Western financial capital and markets for its sovereign debt.
The U.S. will also implement penalties against “Russian elites and their family members” beginning Wednesday, though Biden didn’t share who will be sanctioned or what the penalties will be.
Biden’s sanction package follows similar sanctions announcements from the European Union and United Kingdom earlier Tuesday.
Putin recognized the Russian-backed Ukrainian separatist states of Donetsk and Luhansk and indicated he could send “peacekeeping” troops to the region Monday, a move widely denounced internationally. In response, the White House unveiled restrictions barring Americans from conducting business in the rebel states and threatening penalties against any individual operating in the region. On Tuesday, Russia’s parliament approved Putin’s request to use military force abroad, though NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday there’s already evidence of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine. The E.U. and U.K.’s sanctions packages target Russian banks, wealthy individuals and politicians, though the U.K.’s measures drew criticism for not being expansive enough. Germany announced its own financial punishment of Russia Tuesday: Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he plans to halt the crucial $11 billion Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Germany and Russia.
Biden warned the Russian invasion of Ukraine is already underway during his Tuesday speech: “This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine…so I’m going to begin to impose sanctions in response.”
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