WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will impose economic and trade sanctions against Russia, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday, in response to Russia’s escalating moves to invade Ukrainian territory.
“This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Biden said.
“I’m going to begin to impose sanctions in response far beyond the steps that we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014, and if Russia goes further with this invasion, we’re prepared to go further as with sanctions.”
This first round of sanctions, which Biden said were coordinated with NATO allies, includes fully blocking two Russian financial institutions and enforcing sanctions on Russian foreign debt — meaning the government cannot access Western financing — and on the country’s political elites and their families.
“They share in the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well,” Biden said.
The new sanctions come after the White House issued narrow sanctions that blocked new US investments in two regions of Eastern Ukraine, which are controlled by Russian-backed separatists, on Monday.
In line with the US sanctions, German authorities announced on Tuesday that they will halt approval for the Nord Stream 2, an important natural gas pipeline for the Russian energy industry.
Biden added that US reinforcements, troops, and equipment already in Europe will be moved to support NATO allies in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
“These are totally defensive moves on our part. We have no intention of fighting Russia,” Biden said. “We want to send an unmistakable message that the United States, together with our allies, will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made to NATO.”
Biden’s moves on Tuesday came after Putin announced intentions on Monday night to move troops into Eastern Ukraine. The Russian president signed a document on Monday that would allow him to establish military bases in the two disputed territories of Donetsk and Luhansk. Until a few days ago, Russia had acknowledged that the two territories were part of Ukraine, despite both regions self-declaring as independent republics allied with Russia.
The root of the conflict is Putin’s request that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization not expand to include Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and to roll back current military deployments to other parts of Eastern Europe. The US and other NATO members have refused to concede to those demands, seeing them as an attempt to weaken NATO and expand Russia’s unilateral influence.