'Putin wants to reestablish the former Soviet Union'

Imposing new sanctions, Biden vows to turn Putin into ‘pariah’ for unjustifiable war

Measures target Russian banks, oligarchs, high-tech sectors, but not Russian leader; Biden stresses no US military forces will be sent to Ukraine, but NATO states will be defended

US President Joe Biden speaks about the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 24, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
US President Joe Biden speaks about the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 24, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, charging that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “chose this war” and that his country will bear the consequences of his action.

“Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will end up costing Russia dearly, economically and strategically,” Biden said. “We will make sure that Putin will be a pariah on the international stage.” Countries that do not separate themselves from the Russian president, he said, “will be stained by association.”

“The history of this era is written. Putin’s choice to make a totally unjustifiable war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.”

The sanctions target Russian banks, oligarchs and high-tech sectors, Biden said. The US and its allies will block assets of four large Russian banks, impose export controls and sanction oligarchs.

Biden also said the US will be deploying additional forces to Germany to bolster NATO after the invasion of Ukraine, which is not a member of the defense organization. “Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict with Russia in Ukraine,” he stressed. “Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but to defend our NATO Allies and reassure those Allies in the east. As I made crystal clear, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power.  And the good news is: NATO is more united and more determined than ever.

The penalties fall in line with the White House’s insistence that it would look to hit Russia’s financial system and Putin’s inner circle, while also imposing export controls that would aim to starve Russia’s industries and military of US semiconductors and other high-tech products.

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

“He has much larger ambitions than Ukraine. He wants to reestablish the former Soviet Union. That’s what this is all about,” the US president added.

In this image made from video released by the Russian Presidential Press Service, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation in Moscow, Russia, on February 24, 2022. (Russian Presidential Press Service via AP)

Biden, for now, held off imposing some of the most severe sanctions, including cutting Russia out of the SWIFT payment system, which allows for the transfers of money from bank to bank around the globe, or Russia’s energy sector.

Biden announced the sanctions while Ukraine’s government reported mounting casualties as Russian forces attack from the east, north and south.

Biden spoke to Americans from the White House hours after holding a virtual meeting with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Italy and Japan. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also joined the meeting.

The president also met with his national security team on Thursday morning in the Situation Room as he looked to flesh out US moves in the rapidly escalating crisis.

While Biden described the sanctions as severe, Ukrainian officials urged the US and West to go further and cut the Russians from the SWIFT financial system.

“We demand the disconnection of Russia from SWIFT, the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine and other effective steps to stop the aggressor,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a tweet.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the nation in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 24, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

The Biden administration, however, has shown some reluctance to cut Russia from SWIFT, at least immediately, because of concerns the move could also have enormous ramifications for Europe and other Western economies. Biden, answering questions from reporters, appeared to push a decision on SWIFT to European allies.

“It is always an option, but right now that’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take,” Biden said. He also contended that the financial sanctions he announced would be more damaging to Russia.

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