Biden Says Russia’s Actions Are Beginning of an ‘Invasion,’ Announces Sanctions – CNET

Biden Says Russia’s Actions Are Beginning of an ‘Invasion,’ Announces Sanctions – CNET


President Joe Biden speaks on Russia and Ukraine in the East Room of the White House.

Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced new sanctions against Russia for its moves against Ukraine, calling it the “beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.” The sanctions come as Russia authorized the deployment of troops into two Russia-backed regions in eastern Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin recognized them as independent entities

“This is a clear violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community,” Biden said Tuesday.

Speaking from the White House, Biden said the “first tranche” of sanctions will include blocking two large Russian financial institutions and cutting off the government from Western financing. The US sanctions follow rising tensions in recent weeks as diplomatic efforts to defuse the conflict failed to find a resolution. Biden said there are over 150,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders.

Biden and NATO allies have said they’re prepared to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia. This includes potentially banning exports to Russia in key areas like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and defense and aerospace technologies, reported NPR, citing a senior administration official. The US and allies are also reportedly preparing contingency plans in case Russia cuts off its natural gas or crude oil exports to Europe in response to Western sanctions.

The Pentagon said 8,500 US troops had been put on “high alert,” in order to be swiftly deployed if needed to bolster NATO’s response force. 

On Feb. 18, US officials also said they believe Russia was responsible for cyberattacks against Ukraine’s banks and military earlier this month. They were the latest in a string of digital incursions that have been blamed on Russia, including attacks that defaced government websites and planted destructive malware on Ukrainian computer networks.

“This recent spate of cyberattacks in Ukraine are consistent with what a Russian effort would look like, and laying the groundwork for more disruptive cyberattacks accompanying a potential further invasion of Ukraine sovereign territory,” said Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser, during a briefing at the White House. 

The US and NATO in December rejected a Russian proposal that called for “a Cold War-like security arrangement,” according to The New York Times, including demands for “ironclad” guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia never become members of NATO. The admission of either country would increase the military alliance’s presence along Russia’s border. 

Earlier in January, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman pushed back on Russia’s demands, saying the US would “not allow anyone to slam closed NATO’s open door policy.”

Russia invaded Ukraine – which was part of the Soviet Union until it declared independence in 1991 – back in 2014 before annexing Crimea. Russia has also backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, two regions in eastern Ukraine that Russia now recognizes as independent. Approximately 14,000 people have reportedly been killed in ongoing conflicts in eastern Ukraine.

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