Biden Calls Putin’s Action ‘The Beginning of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine’

WASHINGTON – President Biden on Tuesday announced harsh new sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for what he called the “beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” along with European leaders. Europe causes serious economic consequences for flagrant violations of national sovereignty.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Mr. Biden condemned Russian President Putin for aggression against Ukraine, calling Russia’s actions “a clear violation of international law and demanding a response from the international community”. rigid. ”

Mr. Biden said the US was imposing a “complete blockade” on two major Russian financial institutions and “comprehensive sanctions” on Russia’s debt.

“That means we have cut off the Russian government from Western finance,” he said. “It is no longer able to raise money from the West nor can it trade its new debt on our market or the European market.”

He also said that the United States would impose sanctions on Russian elites and their families, an effort to ensure that those closest to Putin do not escape the financial pain given to them. would have a devastating effect on ordinary Russian citizens.

Biden’s speech came less than a day after Putin issued a decree sending troops into two separatist-held regions in Ukraine. Russia’s parliament authorized the use of military force abroad on Tuesday, taking another step toward what Western officials fear could be an all-out assault on Ukraine.

Western leaders say Russian troops have entered Ukraine in what the president called an “invasion”.

“Who does Putin think in the name of God give him the right to declare a so-called new state on the territory belonging to his neighbours?” Mr. Biden asked during his speech.

But as a tough global response took shape, Mr. Biden and his counterparts struggled to balance the need to take swift and draconian action while maintaining the ability to take action. sanctions against Russia should Putin escalate the conflict by trying to take over the entire country – a war that could kill tens of thousands of people.

Mr. Biden said he would step up sanctions against Mr. Putin if Russia went further than it already has.

“There is no denying that Russia was against Ukraine,” he said. “Today, I am announcing the first round of sanctions aimed at imposing costs on Russia.”

“We will continue to escalate sanctions if Russia escalates,” he added.

On Tuesday, Germany announced that it would stop certifying the natural gas pipeline linking it to Russia. The UK government has said it will punish members of Russia’s parliament who voted to recognize the independence of the breakaway regions and will create legislation to ensure that no British individual or company can do business in the country. business with the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament on Tuesday: “This is the first wave, the first wave of what we are going to do.

In the United States, Jon Finer, Mr. Biden’s deputy national security adviser, said that Russian forces had already begun entering Ukraine, declaring on CNN that “an invasion is an invasion and that’s it. what is being done”. However, he and Mr Johnson also share a similar sentiment, saying that “we always envision waves of sanctions that will unfold over time in response to the steps Russia actually takes”.

Two European officials said on Tuesday that Russia had sent troops to the region, but the Russian Foreign Ministry denied this.

Putin remains firmly in the face of worldwide condemnation for his decision to recognize the independence of the two People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, created after Russia broke out a separatist war in eastern Ukraine in December. year 2014.

In what sounded like an ultimatum, he demanded that Ukraine recognize Russia’s claim to Crimea and give up its advanced weapons.

Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said that Ukraine has gathered 60,000 troops to attack Russian-backed separatist enclaves in the east of the country – a step Ukraine denies it has any plans to take.

“Negotiations have reached a dead end,” Pankov said in a televised address. “Ukrainian leadership has followed the path of violence and bloodshed.”

There was no immediate sign of a major military escalation in eastern Ukraine, but frightened Ukrainians boarded buses leaving the separatist regions as Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, called for the nation to be seen as a “keep a cool head” during the crisis.

Mr. Zelensky insisted that Ukraine would not give in to territory and that his Defense Minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, appeared to be sending his country’s army into the war.

“Ahead will be a difficult test,” Reznikov said in a sad message released by the army. “There will be losses. You will have to go through the pain and overcome the fear and despair.”

A day earlier, Mr. Putin gave a long and fiery speech describing Ukraine as part of Russia, calling the government in Kyiv more than a “puppet” of the United States and its leaders complete. fully responsible for whatever “bloodshed” may occur next.

“To those arrested and holding power in Kyiv,” he said, referring to the Ukrainian capital, “we ask them to immediately stop their military actions.”

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