President Biden imposed economic sanctions Friday on Russian leader Vladimir Putin as the U.S. sought to bolster an economic pressure campaign aimed at punishing Moscow for launching its unprovoked war with Ukraine, the White House said.
Biden’s move came after a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has expressed frustration that the U.S. and other democratic nations were leaving his country’s military “all alone” to fight the Russian onslaught.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Friday that the administration was imposing individual sanctions on Putin, one of his country’s richest men. The move follows the European Union’s announcement early in the day that it was sanctioning the Russian president and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.
The move continues a gradual ratcheting up of economic sanctions and export controls this week as Putin authorized the invasion of Ukraine, which has been an independent country since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The White House has so far targeted Russia’s largest banks and several oligarchs who are close to Putin. It has avoided hitting the country’s energy sector out of concern about the impact on energy markets and stopped short of barring Russia from the SWIFT banking system, a secure communications network vital to international transactions that connects more than 11,000 banks.
The U.S., with Germany leading the way, also moved to halt the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that Putin has long sought in order to deepen Europe’s dependence on Russia’s energy resources.
Biden and NATO allies have moved mostly in lock step in responding to Putin’s aggression. But with Russian bombs exploding in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, a clearly exhausted Zelensky pleaded on Friday for the U.S. and Europe to do more to back Ukraine’s military and the citizens who are taking arms and massing in the streets.
Following his first phone call with Biden since the invasion began in earnest, Zelensky tweeted his gratitude for additional U.S. assistance, suggesting that more sanctions and defense aid from Washington were in the offing.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.