President Biden announced new sanctions against Russia as a result of actions recently undertaken by President Vladimir Putin concerning Ukraine.
“This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, … so I’m going to begin to impose sanctions in response,” Mr. Biden said at the White House, in response to Putin’s decision to send “peacekeeping” forces into Ukraine’s eastern breakaway regions hours after he formally recognized Luhansk and Donetsk as independent from Ukraine on Monday.
Mr. Biden said the sanctions, closely coordinated with allies and partners, will target two large banks in Russia and its sovereign debt.
“That means we cut off Russia’s government from western financing,” the president said.
A White House official said the sanctions the president announced Tuesday would be “swift and severe.” Starting Wednesday, the U.S. will also impose sanctions on Russia’s elite and their family members, Mr. Biden said.
The U.S. is also moving its forces already deployed in Europe to NATO countries bordering Russia on the west, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in response to Putin’s refusal to withdraw troops from Belarus. The move is intended to reassure those countries that they will be protected if Russia attacks.
“Let me be clear — these are totally defensive moves on our part,” Mr. Biden said. “We have no intention of fighting Russia.”
The president added, “Whatever Russia does next, we’re ready to respond with unity, clarity and conviction.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that a previously scheduled meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, would no longer take place “now that we see the invasion beginning.” The meeting was intended to lay the groundwork for a potential diplomatic solution — or at least see if it was possible for Mr. Biden and Putin to hold a summit.
”It does not make sense to go forward with that meeting at this time,” Blinken said.
The recognition of the breakaway territories as independent was soon followed by new U.S. sanctions ordered by Mr. Biden Monday night. The executive order he signed Monday bars new investment and trade and financing by individuals in the U.S. in Luhansk and Donetsk, both in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine.
European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders called Russia’s declaration of Donetsk and Luhnask’s independence — and the decision to send forces into the breakaway regions — an “act of war.”
Meanwhile, Germany has halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was constructed under the Baltic Sea to bring natural gas directly from Russia to Germany. Mr. Biden had said there wouldn’t be a Nord Stream 2 if Russia invades Ukraine, but that decision ultimately rested with Germany. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had initially resisted making an explicit promise to suspend the pipeline, despite pressure from allies, since the pipeline would provide natural gas at a lower cost to Germany.
— CBS News’ Sara Cook contributed to this report