President Biden announced on Tuesday sanctions against Russia in response to President Vladimir Putin’s move to recognize the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR) in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
Biden said the US was implementing “full blocking” sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions, the VEB bank and Russia’s “military bank.” The US is also sanctioning Russia’s sovereign debt.
“That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” Biden said. “It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade its new debt on our markets, or European markets either.”
Biden said the US will also start sanctioning Russia’s “elites and their family members.” He said this was only the first “tranche” of sanctions and warned they would “escalate” if Russia “escalates” against Ukraine.
The president said that the sanctions were coordinated with the US’s allies. EU ministers agreed on sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, including measures against the 351 Russian State Duma members who voted to recognize the DPR and LPR. The UK published a list of Russian individuals and entities it is hitting with sanctions. Australia, Japan, and Canada also joined the US in sanctioning Russia.
The most significant announcement of the day came from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said the certification process for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that connects Russia and Germany has been suspended. “We worked with Germany to ensure Nord Stream 2 will not — as I promised — will not move forward,” Biden said.
Biden described Putin’s actions, which include ordering troops to deploy as “peacekeepers” to the Donbas, as the “beginning of a Russian invasion” of Ukraine.
The DPR and LPR first declared independence from Ukraine after the Obama administration supported a coup in Kyiv that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. The separatists made renewed calls for Russian recognition and military assistance amid a spike of ceasefire violations in the Donbas.