The sanctions include the freezing of assets of four major Russian banks, including VTB, which Biden said held more than $ 250 billion in the US.
“Putin is the aggressor… he chose the war… and now he has to face consequences,” Biden said in a White House speech, announcing a raft of sanctions and punitive economic measures after convening a meeting of his national security council and G7 leaders earlier in the day.
Russia-Ukraine crisis LIVE
Accusing Putin of “naked aggression” against Ukraine in pursuit of his dreams of a Russian Empire, Biden said the Russian leader had chosen a war without cause and he would eventually lose because of mass civil disobedience and strategic ends. The United States, he said, will stand by Ukraine and defend it short of putting boots on the ground.
“America stand up to bullies and for freedom. This is who we are,” Biden said. He also announced deployment of more US troops which were on standby to Germany,
Biden also had a word of advice to nations that supported Russia. The United States would make Putin a “pariah” and any country that supports him, he said, will be stained by their association.
The warning will be particularly stark for Pakistan, whose leader Imran Khan, was in Moscow even as Putin launched the Ukraine invasion. Asked if India was on the same page as US on the Ukraine situation, Biden said “We’re speaking with India today, that hasn’t been entirely resolved yet…”
New Delhi has so far chosen as cautious middle path in the row.
Washington and its western allies ramped up the sanctions and strengthened their defense of Nato frontline on Thursday after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday brought Europe to its gravest crisis since World War II.
Faced with an invasion under a nuclear cover, Biden rallied Nato allies, G7 partners, and domestic opinion to tighten the screws on Putin after Moscow shrugged off the first round of sanctions to proceed with the long forecast invasion — which Russia called “special military action” — of Ukraine.
The US President acknowledged that the first round of sanctions were ineffective and sanctions would take time to bite. “No one expected the sanctions to prevent anything from happening. This could take time, and we have to show resolve so he knows what’s coming and so the people of Russia know what he’s brought on them,” he said.
Biden also had a word of advice to nations that supported Russia. The United States would make Putin a “pariah” and any country that supports him will be stained by their association.
In remarks ahead of the invasion, Putin implicitly invoked a nuclear response if the US and its allies intervened.
“Whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history.” Putin said in a television address, adding, “All relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me.”
In New York, the United Nations also came down on Russia, its Secretary General Antonio Gutteres describing the invasion as the “saddest moment in my tenure”, while appealing to Putin, “in the name of humanity, please bring your forces back to Russia”. Putin’s announcement of “special military action” in Ukraine came even as the UN was discussing Moscow’s earlier moves into the Donbas region.
In one of the most vivid moments in geo-political television history, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, directly addressed his Russian counterpart Vasily Nebenzya who was presiding over the session, calling him to relinquish his chair, and phone Putin and Lavrov (Russia’s foreign minister) to “ask them to stop the aggression on my people”.
“There is no purgatory for war criminals, ambassador… they go straight to hell,” he told the Russian chair. Envoys from the US and the UK were later seen comforting an emotional Ukrainian envoy.
Earlier, President Biden accused Putin of choosing a “premeditated war” that he predicted will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.
“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable,” Biden said in a late night address.
In the morning, Biden convened an in-person meeting of his National Security Council in the White House situation room, followed by a virtual meeting of G7 leaders to consider the western response to Putin’s move that surprisingly has some support among right-wingers in the Trump camp who argue that the US has no stakes in a fight that is primarily European, and that Washington should focus on its southern borders and its internal problems.
Trump in fact called Putin “smart” “savvy” and a “genius” for his move into Ukraine while claiming with typical bombast that this would have never happened on his watch.
Trump critics agree it wouldn’t have, only because he would have gift-wrapped Ukraine and handed it over to Putin. Others went further back to even Barack Obama to explain Washington’s timid response, which some attributed to the attrition Washington suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The alternative narrative is that successive US Presidents allowed Atlantic militarists in the US establishment to push Nato to Russia’s doorstep, leaving Putin feeling cornered. Trump’s British surrogate Nigel Farage, in fact, tweeted that Putin’s Ukraine invasion was “a consequence of EU and NATO expansion, which came to a head in 2014. It made no sense to poke the Russian bear with a stick”.
Before ramping up sanctions, the US and its allies got a shellacking for choosing the path of incremental measures following initial Russian incursion into Ukraine, hoping to ward off a full-scale invasion. Some experts said that was akin to “bringing a pea-shooter to a gun-fight” and argued that it simply emboldened Putin to go all in.
The US officials defended the approach. “We’re not cowboys applying arbitrary and capricious sanctions to the rest of the world.” Daleep Singh, President Biden’s point man on sanctions said, explaining that the US was following a set of guiding principles with regards to sanctions, which he promised would eventually hurt Moscow.