WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, charging that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “chose this war” and that his country will bear the consequences of his action.
The sanctions target Russian banks, oligarchs, and high-tech sectors, Biden said. The United States and its allies will block assets of four large Russian banks, impose export controls, and sanction oligarchs.
Biden also said the U.S. will be deploying additional forces to Germany to bolster NATO after the invasion of Ukraine, which is not a member of the defense organization.
The penalties fall in line with the White House’s insistence that it would look to hit Russia’s financial system and Putin’s inner circle, while also imposing export controls that would aim to starve Russia’s industries and military of U.S. semiconductors and other high-tech products.
“Putin is the aggressor,” Biden said. “Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences.”
More than 40 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and dozens wounded after Russia attacked airports and military installations in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials. https://t.co/hBZ9mlihnm pic.twitter.com/hqjnyve691
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 24, 2022
Biden Holds Off Most Severe Sanctions
Biden, for now, held off imposing some of the most severe sanctions, including cutting Russia out of the SWIFT payment system, which allows for the transfers of money from bank to bank around the globe, or Russia’s energy sector.
Biden announced the sanctions while Ukraine’s government reported mounting casualties as Russian forces attack from the east, north and south.
Biden spoke to Americans from the White House hours after holding a virtual meeting with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Italy and Japan. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also joined the meeting.
The president also met with his national security team on Thursday morning in the Situation Room as he looked to flesh out U.S. moves in the rapidly escalating crisis.
Happening Now: President Biden delivers remarks on Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine. https://t.co/ukEDuddOhQ
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 24, 2022
Ukraine Urges US to Act More Decisively
While Biden described the sanctions as severe, Ukrainian officials urged the U.S. and West to go further and cut the Russians from the SWIFT financial system.
— Jim Verros (@JimVerros) February 24, 2022
“We demand the disconnection of Russia from SWIFT, the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine and other effective steps to stop the aggressor,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a tweet.
The Biden administration, however, has shown some reluctance to cut Russia from SWIFT, at least immediately, because of concerns the move could also have enormous ramifications for Europe and other Western economies. Biden, answering questions from reporters, appeared to push a decision on SWIFT to European allies.
“It is always an option but right now that’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take,” Biden said. He also contended that the financial sanctions he announced would be more damaging to Russia.
European Union Agrees to Sanctions on Russia
European Union leaders agreed to impose sanctions against Russia on Thursday that will have “massive and severe consequences.”
During an emergency summit Thursday to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, the 27 member countries’ leaders approved punitive measures against Russia’s financial, energy and transport sectors and restrictions on exports and financing. They also added more Russian individuals to its earlier sanctions list.
The sanctions must still be legally approved and published before they become effective.
The EU leaders say they also want to draw up sanctions against Belarus because of its close links to Russia.
Canada also announced sanctions that will target 58 people and entities, including members of Russia’s elite and their families, the paramilitary Wagner Group and major Russian banks. The punitive measures, announced after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a virtual meeting of G-7 industrialized nations, will also affect members of the Russian Security Council, including key cabinet ministers.
In the days before the attack, Germany suspended approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.
Stoltenberg: We Will Defend ‘Every Inch’ of NATO Territory
From the U.S. to Western Europe and Japan, South Korea and Australia, countries lined up to denounce the Kremlin as the outbreak of fighting raised fears about the shape of Europe to come and sent stocks tumbling and oil prices surging on fears of higher costs for food and fuel.
Make no mistake. Ukrainians will prevail. We fought against the Russian and Soviet empires in the past and – always – freedom and democracy won the day. We need your support now. Support the Ukrainian Army and economy. Let’s #StopRussianAggression together https://t.co/pVX50pPtVd
— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) February 24, 2022
The West and its allies showed no inclination to send troops into Ukraine — a non-member of NATO — and risk a wider war on the continent. But NATO reinforced its member states in Eastern Europe as a precaution against an attack on them, too.
“Make no mistake: We will defend every ally against any attack on every inch of NATO territory,” said NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.