US announces sanctions as Russia’s Putin recognizes Moscow-backed regions in Ukraine

Putin signed decrees on live TV recognizing the independence of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

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In its first response after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin unilaterally recognized two Moscow-backed rebel regions in Ukraine, the White House said US President Joe Biden would prohibit any new investment, trade, and financing by Americans to these areas.

Biden spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart as well. “President Biden held a secure call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy this afternoon from 14:05 to 14:40 EST,” a White House official told reporters.

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Biden also convened a “secure call” French President Macron and German Chancellor Scholz, the White House said.

“President Biden will soon issue an Executive Order that will prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by US persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “This EO will also provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine.”

Psaki announced that the US would “soon announce additional measures related to today’s blatant violation of Russia’s international commitments.”

Shortly before, Putin signed decrees on live TV recognizing the independence of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

More sanctions this week

A senior Biden administration official said that more sanctions would be announced on Tuesday. During a call with reporters, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Putin’s was not about Russia’s security.

“It was an attack on the very idea of a sovereign and independent Ukraine. This was a speech to justify a war,” the official said.

Asked about reports of Russian forces entering the Donbass and the possibility of this triggering more sanctions, the official said that would not be “a new step.”

“I want to take a step back and point out something that may be lost on people who have not been paying attention to this conflict throughout most of the last eight years, which is that Russia has occupied these regions since 2014,” the official said. “It has been Russia’s position that there are no Russian forces present in this part of the Donbass. The reality, as we pointed out on a number of occasions over these past years, has been quite different.”

Washington has been warning for months that Russia is planning to launch an invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of Russian troops have been deployed to borders with Ukraine in Belarus and Russia, according to US intelligence and satellite images.

Russia has denied that it has plans to attack Ukraine.

Read more: Russia’s Putin has made the decision to invade Ukraine, US President Biden says

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