Biden terms Russia’s moves in Ukraine an invasion, sets new sanctions

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Declaring Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine constitute an “invasion,” U.S. President Joe Biden announced a series of punitive sanctions aimed at Russian banks and individuals, reported news agency UPI.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine as independent countries and his decision to send in Russian troops as “peacekeepers” on Monday amounted to an “invasion” of Ukraine, requiring a strong response.

“On Monday Vladimir Putin recognized two regions of Ukraine as independent states, and he bizarrely asserted that these regions are no longer a part of Ukraine and their sovereign territory,” he said. “To put it simply, Russia announced it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine.”

“Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belongs to his neighbors?” Biden asked. “This is a flagrant violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community.”

Biden noted Putin’s assertions that the rightful territory of the self-declared states of Donetsk and Luhansk “actually extend deeper than the two areas he recognized, claiming large areas currently under the jurisdiction of the Ukraine government.”

This, the president said, amounts to “a rationale to take more territory by force, in my view … [Putin is] setting up a rationale to go much further. This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

In response, Biden announced new sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions — VEB and the nation’s military bank — and introduced “comprehensive sanctions” on Russia’s sovereign debt under which Moscow will be unable to raise money or trade in its new debt in U.S. or European markets.

The sanctions will also apply to Russia’s top leaders and their family members who, Biden said, “share in the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well.”

Finally, he said, “We’ve worked with Germany to ensure that Nord Stream 2 [gas pipeline between Russia and Germany] will not … move forward.”

The pro-Russia, separatist-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk seceded from Ukrainian rule in 2014 and declare themselves “people’s republics.”

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