The Biden administration, which has tried to leave room for diplomacy while adopting an aggressive stance toward Russia, said Tuesday that it saw President Vladimir Putin’s movement of troops into the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine as the start of an invasion.
In response, Biden plans to announce sanctions against Russia from the White House later on Tuesday, Feb. 22, according to administration officials, Wall Street Journal reported.
On Monday, Feb. 21, Putin recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, two breakaway, pro-Russian regions in Eastern Ukraine, and he ordered a deployment of military forces to go in as peacekeepers.
Biden said on Friday, Feb. 19 that he was convinced Putin had decided to invade Ukraine, but that there was still room for diplomacy. He said he expected an attack in the coming days, with targets including the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. U.S. officials said a Russian attack could involve jet fighters, tanks, ballistic missiles and cyberattacks to overpower Ukraine leadership.
The Biden administration has said in the past that if Russia attacked Eastern Ukraine, the U.S. would blacklist some of the largest state-owned companies and banks in Russia, sanction powerful Putin allies, ban trading in new sovereign debt and impose strict export controls on some advanced tech sectors.
Biden signed an executive order Monday prohibiting new investment, financing and U.S. trade in the separatist regions of Ukraine. Investors or executives who do business with the breakaway areas will have their U.S. assets blocked, Wall Street Journal reported.
Biden has been under pressure from fellow Democrats to impose sanctions ahead of any further military action by Putin. “The time for taking action to impose significant costs on President Putin and the Kremlin starts now,” Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.) said Monday night.
Biden plans to impose “waves of sanctions” against Russia, said Jonathan Finer, White House principal deputy national security adviser, Tuesday morning on CNN.
Russia has had a presence in the Donbas region for eight years.
Germany announced that it has halted certification of the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline to Russia, the most forceful move so far to impose economic and financial penalties on Russia since Putin recognized two parts of Eastern Ukraine as independent.
Photo: President Joe Biden speaks about Ukraine at the White House, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)