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Biden announces sanctions on 2 Russian financial institutions

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Feb 23, 2022 - 01:07 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – US President Joe Biden announced Tuesday the first tranche of sanctions against Russia after Moscow recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and sent troops to keep peace.

“We’re implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions; VEB and their military bank,” Biden said in a White House address, adding that the sanctions will target Russian sovereign debt.

“That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing. It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either,” said the US president.

He said starting Wednesday that Washington will impose sanctions on Russia’s elites and their family members,’ and warned Russia will pay a “steeper price” for its aggression.

“They share in the corrupt gains of Russian policies and should share in the pain as well,” he said.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized, as independent, the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, and announced that Moscow would send troops to those areas to “maintain peace.”

“He’s setting up a rationale to go much further. This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” said Biden. “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?”

There are still more than 150,000 Russian troops surrounding Ukraine, said Biden, who added that Russian forces remain in position in Belarus to attack Ukraine from the north, with war planes and offensive missile systems.

“Russia has moved troops closer to Ukraine’s border with Russia. Russia’s naval vessels are maneuvering in the Black Sea to Ukraine’s south,” said the US president.

He also claimed Russia is sending blood supplies to the Ukrainian border and said, “you don’t send blood unless you are starting a war.”

Regarding Putin’s authorization he sought from the Russian parliament to use military force outside of Russian tourism territory, Biden said the move sets the stage for further pretext, a further provocation by Russia to try to justify further military action.

“None of us should be fooled. None of us will be fooled. There is no justification. If Russia proceeds, it is Russia and Russia alone that bears the responsibility,” he added.

After Russia’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk, Biden signed an executive order barring new investment, trade and financing to, from, or in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Ahead of his address, Biden had a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the White House, during which he reaffirmed the US’ commitment to Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Biden also reaffirmed that the United States would continue providing security assistance and macroeconomic support to Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.

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