The US has confirmed what it says are the “first tranche” of sanctions against Russia, following Moscow’s deployment of troops in eastern Ukraine. According to an AFP report, President Joe Biden announced the sanctions against 2 banks, as well as Russian oligarchs, describing the troop deployment as an invasion. Biden says the sanctions are in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin “carving out a big chunk of Ukraine”, warning that more will follow if Russia moves any further into Ukraine.
The sanctions target Russia’s sovereign debt, removing the country’s access to Western financing, while also targeting 2 Russian banks and a number of wealthy individuals, or “elites”. Biden says the US will continue to equip the Ukrainian military with “defensive weapons”, but has not given up on diplomacy, adding that there’s still time for talks and the possibility of averting a “worst case scenario”.
In a statement on Monday, Putin confirmed his recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk, 2 breakaway areas in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which are already controlled by Russian-backed separatists. He then announced the deployment of Russian troops to the region, in what he describes as a “peacekeeping” mission.
In response, there has been a flurry of talks between the US, various European countries, and Ukraine, as they try to determine how best to respond to Russia, which controls much of the gas supply that fuels the European Union. Germany has announced it’s putting a stop to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which was to supply Europe with natural gas from Russia. The US has welcomed Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s decision as the pipeline is fundamental to Russia’s commercial and geostrategic goals, AFP reports.
US Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Biden had made it clear that any Russian invasion of Ukraine would see the US working with Germany to ensure the Nord Stream 2 project was halted.
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