Biden punishes Russia with ‘first installment’ of economic sanctions | Politics

President Joe Biden, citing the “beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” announced a series of sanctions on Russian financial institutions and the country’s elites on Tuesday, and threatened to further squeeze the Russian economy if President Vladimir Putin – as Biden expects – is moving further.

“This is a flagrant violation of international law and demands a strong response from the international community,” Biden said, referring to Putin’s speech on Monday in which the Russian leader “bizarrely asserted” that two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine “are no longer part of Ukraine.”

Not only did Putin move aggressively toward an all-out invasion of his western neighbor, but “he directly attacked Ukraine’s right to exist,” Biden said. “He indirectly threatened territory once held by Russia, including nations that are now thriving democracies and members of NATO, explicitly threatened war unless his extreme demands were met.”

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Putin demanded that NATO agree to never allow Ukraine to join the Western military alliance, although there are no plans to admit Ukraine. NATO members, who have become more unified in the face of Putin’s moves towards Ukraine, have refused to back down and warn that allowing Putin to succeed will threaten democracies around the world.

There is “no question that Russia is the aggressor,” Biden said in brief but fiery remarks.

On Monday, a senior White House official who briefed reporters seemed reluctant to characterize Putin’s actions as an all-out invasion, the standard the president set last week for imposing sanctions. But the US president made it clear in his remarks on Tuesday that the White House indeed views Putin’s troop movement into breakaway regions of Ukraine as an invasion.

Putin won Russian Duma approval on Tuesday to send what the Russian government calls “peacekeeping” troops to breakaway regions that Putin recognized as independent on Monday. This, Biden said, means “he’s setting up a rationale for taking more territory by force.”

The sanctions – the “first installment” of Russia’s economic punishment – target two Russian financial institutions and sovereign debt. On Wednesday, Biden said, sanctions against Russian elites and their families would be imposed. These latest measures are notable because often when economic sanctions are imposed on a country, it is the grassroots citizens who suffer instead of the country’s power structure.

Biden also said he was sending more troops to the Baltic states to bolster the defenses of NATO allies such as Poland. The NATO charter means that the United States is obligated to protect other NATO members. Biden has repeatedly said he will not send US troops to Ukraine.

A recent poll conducted by YouGovAmerica found that half of Americans think economic sanctions are a “good idea”, with 20% calling them a “bad idea”. Americans overwhelmingly oppose sending US troops to Ukraine to defend the country, with 55% opposing such action and 13% saying it is a “good idea”.

The president said more and tougher economic sanctions would come if Putin continued to act against Ukraine. While some have called for more immediate and comprehensive sanctions, Biden’s defenders note that would not entice Putin to step down.

“When it’s all said and done, we’re going to judge Russia by its actions, not its words,” Biden said from the White House. “Whatever Russia does next, we stand ready to respond with unity, clarity and conviction. … I hope diplomacy is still available.”

Germany has already agreed to shut down Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany. It hurts Russia, which relies on energy sales to support its economy, but the move – along with sanctions imposed on Tuesday – is expected to hit energy consumers in the United States and Europe.

Biden acknowledged the imminent pinch in the pocketbooks of American consumers already facing high inflation.

“Defending freedom will have costs for us too and here at home,” the president said. “We have to be honest about it.” He said he would take “strong action” to ensure that “the pain of our sanctions is aimed at the Russian economy, not ours.”

He said the United States was working with allies and partners to stabilize the energy market and that would “mitigate” the impact on gas prices. Higher gasoline prices not only mean more expensive gas station bills, but also higher commodity prices due to higher transportation costs.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was tentatively scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on Thursday. But measures taken by Russia over the President’s Day weekend mean that event is cancelled, Blinken said on Tuesday.

“Now that we see the invasion starting, it doesn’t make sense to go ahead with this meeting right now,” Blinken said in a joint appearance with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro. Kuleba.

“We will not allow Russia to claim the pretext of diplomacy” while marching towards war, Blinken said.

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