US President Joe Biden announced what he called the “first tranche” of sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, beginning by cutting off Western financing for the country’s sovereign debt.
“Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to its neighbors?” Biden said in his first televised remarks since Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the independence of two Moscow-backed regions in Ukraine.
“This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Biden said. “He’s setting up a rationale to take more territory by force.”
Two Russian banks and Russia’s sovereign debt will be hit first, Biden said. Russian oligarchs and their families will be sanctioned in the coming days, he added.
Today, in close coordination with our Allies and partners, I am announcing the first tranche of sanctions to impose costs on Russia in response to yesterday’s actions.— President Biden (@POTUS) February 22, 2022
We will continue to escalate sanctions as Russia escalates.
“That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing. They can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either,” the US president said.
As for Russia’s elites and their family members, Biden said: “They share in the corrupt… of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well.”
Nord Stream 2 will go to waste
Speaking to reporters after Biden’s remarks, a senior administration official said that Nord Stream 2 would not become operational.
“That’s an $11 billion investment and gas pipeline controlled by Russia that will now go to waste. This decision will relieve Russia’s geostrategic chokehold over Europe through supply of natural gas,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
“It’s a major turning point in the world’s energy independence from Russia,” he said.
Germany had announced a temporary halt to the underwater pipeline that would see gas sent from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine.
A US official told Al Arabiya English earlier that the pipeline was “killed for good” in a development that had not been previously reported.
Still time for diplomacy, Biden says
Despite warning that Putin planned to further invade Ukraine, Biden said the door for diplomacy was still open. “There is still time to avert the worst-case scenario that will bring untold suffering to millions of people if they move as suggested,” he said.
Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea played down Biden’s moves.
For those who are interested, here is the 2014 action on VEB and the Biden Admin’s own expanded sanctions on sovereign debt, already in place since April 2021.— Marshall S. Billingslea (@M_S_Billingslea) February 22, 2022
Not much bark today, and very little bite. This will not deter Putin.https://t.co/A7Or28Oe9ohttps://t.co/4llh5jbFHE
“Not much bark today, and very little bite. This will not deter Putin,” he tweeted, adding that VEB had already been under select restrictions since 2014.
Britain sanctions Russian oligarch Timchenko, five banksBritain on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Gennady Timchenko and two other billionaires with close links to Vladimir Putin after the Russian president ... World News
Russia decides to evacuate diplomats from Ukraine soon to ‘protect their lives’Russia said it will soon evacuate its diplomatic staff from Ukraine to “protect their lives”, hours after lawmakers approved President Vladimir ... World News
Blinken-Lavrov meet up in the air, France cancels invite for Russia's FMPentagon chief Lloyd Austin condemned Russia’s “latest invasion” of Ukraine but said Washington was working with allies to prevent the conflict from growing. World News