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President Biden Announces Sanctions Against Russian Oligarchs and Banks

President Biden Announces Sanctions Against Russian Oligarchs and Banks

President Joe Biden ordered heavy U.S. financial sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs on Tuesday, stepping up the West’s confrontation with Moscow, even as Russian lawmakers authorized President Vladimir Putin to use military force outside their country.

In a brief address from the White House, President Biden accused Putin of flagrantly violating international law in what he called the “beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” and promised that more sanctions would be coming if Putin proceeds further.

 

Condemnation from around the world was quick. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he would consider breaking diplomatic ties with Russia and Kyiv recalled its ambassador in Moscow.

President Biden joined the 27 European Union members who unanimously agreed on Tuesday to levy their own initial set of sanctions targeting Russian officials over their actions in Ukraine. Germany also announced it was halting the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, a lucrative deal long sought by Moscow but criticized by the U.S. for increasing Europe’s reliance on Russian energy. President Biden announced what he called “the first tranche of sanctions” as Russian troops rolled into rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine after Putin said he was recognizing the areas’ independence on Monday.

It was unclear how large the Russian deployment was, and Ukraine and its Western allies have long said Russian troops were already fighting in the region, allegations that Moscow always denied.

President Biden said he was also moving additional U.S. troops to the Baltic states on NATO’s eastern flank bordering Russia. The prime minister of Estonia and presidents of Latvia and Lithuania on Friday had made a direct plea to Vice President Kamala Harris for the U.S. to step up its presence in the Baltics.

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Putin has said the crisis could be resolved if Kyiv recognizes Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, renounces its bid to join NATO and partially demilitarizes. The West has decried the annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law and has previously flatly rejected permanently barring Ukraine from NATO.

[This is a continuing and developing story, please check back for updates]

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