Biden imposes more sanctions against Russia for its military operation against Ukraine
Washington, February 25, 2022
Describing Russian President Vladimir Putin as the "aggressor" for launching a military operation against Ukraine, United States President Joe Biden on Thursday authorized more sanctions against Russia and imposed new limitations on what can be exported to it.
"Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences," Biden told journalists at the White House.
"Today, I’m authorizing additional strong sanctions and new limitations on what can be exported to Russia. This is going to impose severe costs on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time," he said.
Biden said Washington had purposefully designed the sanctions to maximise the long-term impact on Russia and to minimize the impact on the US and its Allies.
"And I want to be clear: The United States is not doing this alone. For months, we’ve been building a coalition of partners representing well more than half of the global economy. Twenty-seven members of the European Union, including France, Germany, Italy — as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and many others — to amplify the joint impact of our response," he said.
Biden said he had spoken to G7 leaders on Thursday morning and there were in full and total agreement.
"We will limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds, and yen to be part of the global economy. We will limit their ability to do that. We are going to stunt the ability to finance and grow the Russian military.
"We’re going to impose major — and we’re going to impair their ability to compete in a high-tech 21st century economy.
"We’ve already seen the impact of our actions on Russia’s currency, the ruble, which early today hit its weakest level ever — ever in history. And the Russian stock market plunged today. The Russian government’s borrowing rate spiked by over 15 per cent.
"In today’s actions, we have now sanctioned Russian banks that together hold around $1 trillion in assets. We’ve cut off Russia’s largest bank — a bank that holds more than one third of Russia’s banking assets by itself — cut it off from the U.S. financial system.
"And today, we’re also blocking four more major banks. That means every asset they have in America will be frozen. This includes V.T.B., the second-largest bank in Russia, which has $250 billion in assets.
"As promised, we’re also adding names to the list of Russian elites and their family members that that we’re sanctioning as well.
"As I said on Tuesday, these are people who personally gain from the Kremlin’s policies and they should share in the pain. We will keep up this drumbeat of those designations against corrupt billionaires in the days ahead.
"On Tuesday, we stopped the Russian government from raising money from U.S. or European investors. Now, we’re going to apply the same restrictions to Russia’s largest state-owned enterprises — companies with assets that exceed $1.4 trillion," he said.
Biden said some of the most powerful impacts of these actions would come over time as the US and its allies squeezed Russia’s access to finance and technology for strategic sectors of its economy and degrade its industrial capacity for years to come.
"Between our actions and those of our Allies and partners, we estimate that we’ll cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports.
"It will strike a blow to their ability to continue to modernize their military. It’ll degrade their aerospace industry, including their space program. It will hurt their ability to build ships, reducing their ability to compete economically. And it will be a major hit to Putin’s long-term strategic ambitions," he said.
"And we’re preparing to do more. In addition to the economic penalties we’re imposing, we’re also taking steps to defend our NATO Allies, particularly in the east," he said.
Biden said NATO would convene a summit to bring together the US and 30 allied nations and close partners to affirm their solidarity and to map out the next steps they would take to further strengthen all aspects of the NATO alliance.
"Although we provided over $650 million in defensive assistance to Ukraine just this year — this last year, let me say it again: Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict with Russia in Ukraine. 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.
"There is no doubt — no doubt that the United States and every NATO ally will meet our Article 5 commitments, which says that an attack on one is an attack on all," he said.
The US President said he had, over the past few weeks, ordered thousands of additional forces to Germany and Poland as part of the country's commitment to NATO.
"On Tuesday, in response to Russia’s aggressive action, including its troop presence in Belarus and the Black Sea, I’ve authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern flank Allies: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.
"Our Allies have also been stepping up, adding — the other Allies, the rest of NATO — adding their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.
"And today, within hours of Russia’s unleashing its assault, NATO came together and authorized and activated — an activation of response plans.
"This will enable NATO’s high-readiness forces to deploy and — when and where they’re needed to protect our NATO Allies on the eastern boundaries of Europe.
"And now I’m authorizing additional U.S. forces and capabilities to deploy to Germany as part of NATO’s response, including some of U.S.-based forces that the Department of Defense placed on standby weeks ago," he added.
"... this aggression cannot go unanswered. If it did, the consequences for America would be much worse. America stands up to bullies. We stand up for freedom. This is who we are.
"Let me also repeat the warning I made last week: If Russia pursues cyberattacks against our companies, our critical infrastructure, we are prepared to respond.
"For months, we have been working closely with our private — with the private sector to harden their cyber defenses, sharpen our ability to respond to Russian cyberattacks as well," he said.
Biden said he had spoken on Wednesday night to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine and assured him that the US, together with its Allies and partners in Europe, would support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country. "We’ll provide humanitarian relief to ease their suffering," he said.
"And in the early days of this conflict, Russian propaganda outlets will keep trying to hide the truth and claim success for its military operation against a made-up threat. But history has shown time and again how swift gains in territory eventually give way to grinding occupations, acts of mass civil — mass civil disobedience, and strategic dead-ends.
"The next few weeks and months will be hard on the people of Ukraine. Putin has unleashed a great pain on them. But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown that they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.
"This is a dangerous moment for all of Europe, for the freedom around the world. Putin has committed an assault on the very principles that uphold global peace.
"But now the entire world sees clearly what Putin and his Kremlin allies are really all about. This was never about genuine security concerns on their part. It was always about naked aggression, about Putin’s desire for empire by any means necessary — by bullying Russia’s neighbors through coercion and corruption, by changing borders by force, and, ultimately, by choosing a war without a cause.
"Putin’s actions betray his sinister vision for the future of our world — one where nations take what they want by force. But it is a vision that the United States and freedom-loving nations everywhere will oppose with every tool of our considerable power," he said.
"And Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will end up costing Russia dearly — economically and strategically. We will make sure of that. Putin will be a pariah on the international stage. Any nation that countenances Russia’s naked aggression against Ukraine will be stained by association.
"When 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," he said.