Biden said two Russian financial institutions, VTB and Russia’s military bank, will face sanctions. He also said Russia’s sovereign debt will be sanctioned so Russia ‘can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade its new debt on our markets, or European markets either.’
He also promised financial restrictions on a slew of Russian oligarchs and their families and announced plans to send more troops to the region.
‘I think again, the challenge here is, Vladimir Putin doesn’t seem to care. He knew that these sanctions were coming,’ the former White House advisor said on MSNBC. ‘I think the U.S. had communicated to Russia precisely the kind of sanctions that would be coming, so I don’t think he’s in any way caught off guard by this announcement.’
‘I think again, the challenge here is, Vladimir Putin doesn’t seem to care. He knew that these sanctions were coming,’ the former White House advisor said on MSNBC
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds an impromptu press conference to discuss the recognition of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk at the Kremlin Grand Palace, February 22
The Biden administration has for weeks said it is drawing up a sanctions package, as Putin amassed some 190,000 troops at the Ukraine border.
Rhodes further explained on Twitter: ‘The Putin we saw yesterday quite clearly won’t be deterred by sanctions. So this is more about imposing a cost over time, which is why it’s important to focus above all on Russian elites who have participated in kleptocracy and aggression.’
Biden had been under full pressure to utilize every sanction in his arsenal after Putin on Monday declared to regions in Ukraine independent and move troops in. The Russian president claimed his troops were being sent in on a peacekeeping mission.
The two financial institutions ‘hold more than $80 billion in assets and finance the Russian defense sector and economic development,’ the White House noted in a fact sheet. ‘These measures will freeze their assets in the United States, prohibit U.S. individuals and businesses from doing any transactions with them, shut them out of the global financial system, and foreclose access to the U.S. dollar.’
And there could be more to come.
‘No Russian financial institution is safe if this invasion proceeds,’ a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call.
Meanwhile Sec. of State Antony Blinken canceled his upcoming meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
‘Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called ‘countries’ on territory that belonged to his neighbors?’ Biden questioned in his Tuesday afternoon remarks. The map above shows a large eastern region of Ukraine now occupied by pro-Russian separatists that Putin has legitimized with his decree on Monday
‘Now that we see the invasion is beginning and Russia has made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy it does not make sense to go forward that meeting at this time,’ he said in a news conference.
In a rare sign of trans-Atlantic coordination, the U.S. sanctions on Tuesday overlapped with those announced by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
But Germany made the first big move, taking steps to halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, cutting off what Biden’s administration called a ‘cash cow’ for Moscow.
The international reaction was fast and furious after Putin recognized the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics – including portions still under the Ukrainian government’s control. And after making treaties with these so-called states, he moved his forces onto Ukrainian soil.
In response to Russia’s latest actions, Biden said he will ‘begin to impose sanctions’ that go ‘far beyond the steps we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014.’
‘And if Russia goes further with this invasion, we stand to go further with sanctions,’ he said.
He also said that since Russia rejected demands it withdraw forces from Belarus, the U.S. will send more forces to the region to help.
‘I have authorized additional movements of U.S. forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic allies – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,’ Biden said. ‘Let me be clear, these are totally defensive moves on our part.’
‘We have no intention of fighting Russia,’ he assured. ‘We want to send an unmistakable message though – that the United States together with our allies will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made to NATO.’
There are already thousands of U.S. forces from the 82nd and 18th Airborne Corps that have deployed from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Poland and Germany. Other U.S. forces that were already in Germany were repositioned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s eastern flank in Romania.
More than 10,000 Russian soldiers entered separatist-occupied areas overnight, a source with links to Ukrainian military intelligence told MailOnline, with 6,000 sent to Donetsk, 5,000 to Luhansk and 1,500 to the city of Horlivka. ‘It is difficult to believe [Putin] could have moved that quickly – but he had a long time to prepare,’ the source said.
During his news conference on Tuesday, Putin called on Ukraine to pledge neutrality, abandon its goal of joining NATO and demilitarize.
A tank drives along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine
Military vehicles drive along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops
He said a further incursion of Russian troops will not happen ‘right now’ but added, ‘predicting specific possible actions is impossible, it depends on the situation.’
Putin made clear he recognized rebels’ sovereignty over the entire Donetsk and Luhansk regions — despite only a small portion already being under their control. That would include the city of Mariupol, a major port, which as it stands is held by the Ukrainian government.
The Russian leader publicly advised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to sit down with the rebel leaders, something Kiev officials have repeatedly refused.