“We still believe that Russia is poised to go much further and launch a massive military attack against Ukraine,” Biden said.
The sanctions will target the Russian bank VEB and Russia’s sovereign debt, cutting the country off from Western financing. In the coming days, the sanctions will also target “Russia’s elites and their family members,” Biden said.
Biden also said that he was moving some US troops and equipment that are already in Europe to strengthen the Baltic allies, but said that it was a “defensive” move. “We have no intention of fighting Russia,” Biden said.
“As Russia contemplates this next move, we have our next move prepared as well. Russia will pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression, including additional sanctions,” Biden warned.
Putin on Monday formally recognized the independence of two Moscow-backed breakaway regions in the eastern part of Ukraine and ordered troops into the territories to carry out what he called “peacekeeping functions.”
The order was seen by the United States and its European allies as a dramatic provocation after weeks of warning that Moscow was trying to create a pretext to invade, and raised concerns that Russia could soon move further into Ukrainian territory.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced earlier Tuesday that he would halt the regulatory approval process for Nord Stream 2, a pipeline that bypasses Ukrainian transit infrastructure to deliver Russian gas directly to Germany. During a visit to the White House earlier this month, Scholz had been unwilling to clearly commit to stopping the pipeline if Russia invaded.
Biden on Friday had warned that Russia could attack Ukraine’s capital within the coming days, but said that there was still room for diplomacy if Russia’s president wanted to “de-escalate and return to the negotiating table.”
The chances of finding a diplomatic resolution looked increasingly narrower Tuesday, with a planned meeting later this week between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “in real jeopardy,” according to a senior Biden administration official.