President Joe Biden on Tuesday described Russia’s occupation of separatist-backed territory in eastern Ukraine as “the beginning of an invasion,” while announcing sanctions on Russian sovereign debt and the nation’s wealthy elite.
“We’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” Biden said in address from the White House, speaking of the sanctions against Russian sovereign debt. “It can no longer raise money from the West and can not trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets, either.”
Happening Now: President Biden provides an update on Russia and Ukraine. https://t.co/V8cJPxz1cM
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 22, 2022
President Vladimir Putin on Monday recognized the independence of two separatist territories in eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk. He also sent troops into the territories to carry about “peacekeeping functions.” The move may be a pretext to carry out a broader incursion into Ukrainian territory.
“We still believe that Russia is poised to go much further and launch a massive military attack against Ukraine,” Biden said on Tuesday.
The announcement comes amid bipartisan pressure for the White House to retaliate against Putin’s actions on Monday. “It now appears increasingly likely that Russian forces will initiate hostilities against a free and peaceful Ukraine,” a delegation led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D.-R.I.) wrote. “No matter what happens in the coming days, we must assure that the dictator Putin and his corrupt oligarchs pay a devastating price for their decisions.”
Germany retaliated earlier on Tuesday by halting the certification of Nord Stream 2, a massive, natural gas pipeline running from Germany to Russia that had already been opposed by much of the West because of the boon it would provide to Russia’s energy industry. Chancellor Olaf Scholz cited Russia’s “serious break of international law” in blocking the pipeline.
The European Union also imposed sanctions on Tuesday, although they were modest. The E.U. said there will be more to come if Russia continues to move into Ukraine. Biden has said the same, describing the sanctions against Russian sovereign debt and the nation’s oligarchs as only the “first tranche” of retaliatory measures.