Biden unveils new Russia sanctions over Ukraine invasion…

US president says Russia will face ‘severe cost’ for attacking Ukraine, accusing Vladimir Putin of choosing war.

United States President Joe Biden has announced new sanctions against Russia, vowing to impose a “severe cost” on the country for its invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking from the White House on Thursday, Biden voiced support for Ukraine and said the sanctions package will limit international trade with Moscow and penalise Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

“Putin is the aggressor; Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said.

The sanctions target four Russian banks that hold more than $1 trillion in assets, including the country’s largest bank, Sberbank. “That means every asset they have in America will be frozen,” the US president said.

Biden also said the sanctions will target wealthy Russians close to Putin. “We will keep up this drumbeat of those designations against corrupt billionaires in the days ahead,” he pledged.

Thursday’s measures did not target the Russian president personally, but Biden said sanctioning Putin is “on the table”.

The US move comes after Russia launched a large-scale military operation in Ukraine late on Wednesday after a months-long impasse in the region that saw Moscow amass as many as 200,000 troops near the Ukrainian border.

European countries began imposing sanctions on Russia over the invasion on Thursday, with the United Kingdom announcing measures targeting dozens of Russian banks, businesses and wealthy elites, and banning Russia’s national airline Aeroflot from the country’s airspace.

Putin said Russia is aiming for the “demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine” but does not plan on occupying the country. Russian forces bombed targets across Ukraine throughout the night.

Ukrainian officials have said fighting also is taking place on the ground, with Russian forces on Thursday capturing the former nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, in the country’s north.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared martial law late on Wednesday, and pledged that Ukrainians would defend themselves against the invasion. “When you will be attacking us, you will see our faces, not our backs, but our faces,” Zelenskyy said.

Putin had accused the Ukrainian government of committing atrocities in the east of the country where government forces had been battling Russia-backed separatists since 2014, but Ukrainian officials have repeatedly denied attacking the pro-Moscow rebels.

Russia initially denied US and European allegations that it was planning to invade Ukraine, insisting that it has legitimate security concerns over Kyiv’s deepening alliance with the West – and demanding guarantees that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO.

Numerous rounds of talks between Russian, European and American officials had failed to end the impasse. US and European officials had argued that NATO is a defensive alliance that does not pose a threat to Russia, stressing that it would be a violation of Kyiv’s sovereignty to allow Moscow to veto its efforts to join.

Before Biden’s announcement, US lawmakers from both major parties had condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and called for swift and “painful” sanctions against Moscow.

Asked whether the sanctions failed to stop Putin from invading Ukraine, Biden said on Thursday: “The threat of the sanctions – and imposing the sanctions and seeing the effects of the sanctions – are two different things.”

Biden also said his administration will work to stablise the energy market and minimise the effects of the crisis on fuel costs in the US. Russia is one of the world’s top producers of oil and natural gas.

“I know this is hard and that Americans are already hurting. I will do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump,” Biden said. “But this aggression cannot go unanswered. If it did, the consequences for America would be much worse.” Read More..

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