WASHINGTON – President Biden on Thursday denounced President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and his “sinister vision for the future of our world,” vowing that Putin and his country would pay back price as the United States imposed a new round of economic sanctions on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Putin is an aggressor. Putin chose this war,” Biden said in brief remarks from the White House. “And now he and his country will suffer the consequences.”
Just hours after Russian missiles and bombs began to rain down on Ukrainian cities, ushering in Europe’s first major land war in more than 70 years, Mr Biden lashed out at the Russian leader in language reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s 1983 speech on the Soviet Union, in which the former president criticized “the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.”
On Thursday, Mr. Biden said: “It is now clear to the whole world what Putin and his Kremlin allies really are. This is not a real security concern on their part. It has always been about naked aggression, about Putin’s imperial aspirations, by any means necessary. “
Mr. Biden said he has authorized sending more troops to Eastern European countries in the NATO alliance. While he stated again that the US military would not engage with Russia in Ukraine, he said that the US would support its NATO allies if Russia went beyond Ukraine’s borders.
“The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of America,” he said.
Mr. Biden announced the US had cut off top Russian banks and some of its biggest companies from Western financial markets, and restricted technology exports to Russia. He said that economic actions will significantly reduce Russia’s ability to develop in the coming weeks, months and years.
Mr. Biden also said the US had frozen trillions of dollars in Russian assets, including funds controlled by Russian elites and their families, seeking to make them pay for what Mr. called “a brutal attack on the Ukrainian people without provocation, without justification, without necessity. ”
The president did not order economic sanctions against Putin himself, and he declined to answer questions about that decision. And he said European allies have resisted taking further action to block Russia’s access to a global financial network known as Fastnotes that “right now, that’s not the position the rest of Europe wants to be in.”
Mr. Biden has been defensive about his strategy – which has been publicly repeated in recent weeks – to thwart a Russian invasion by threatening Mr. Putin with severe sanctions. In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. Biden denied that this strategy had failed, despite the full-scale offensive underway in Ukraine.
“Nobody expected sanctions to stop anything from happening,” Biden told reporters.
But Mr. Biden and his top aides have been pressing deterrence for weeks. On February 11, Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, said that “the president believes the sanctions are intended as deterrence.” Six days later, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said he was at the United Nations “not to start a war, but to prevent one.”
Asked on Thursday whether the administration thought its strategy of using sanctions could deter Russia’s attack, Daleep Singh, deputy national security adviser, told reporters that Economic penalties often influence leaders because they affect people’s living standards.
In this case, Putin made the wrong choice.
Mr. Biden appeared to change his rationale for using economic penalties, predicting they would strangle Russia’s economy over time and force Mr. Putin to withdraw his military forces before causing too much damage to the country. Ukrainians.
“This is going to take a long time,” Biden said. “He will test the determination of the West to see if we stay together and how we will.”
Mr. Biden acknowledged that conflict in Eastern Europe would be at home. White House officials have warned for days that economic penalties against Russia could boost oil prices, even as the United States grapples with soaring inflation.
“I will do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are suffering from pumping gas,” he said. “This is very important to me. But this aggression cannot go unanswered.”
“America is against bullies,” he added. “This is who we are.”
But even as Mr. Biden suggested it was “very unlikely” that Americans would feel economic hardship “for a long time” as a result of the sanctions, he acknowledged that the sanctions would not. immediately prevented Putin from continuing to serve in the military. assault.
“The sanctions that we imposed have made two-thirds of the world join us. They are profound sanctions,” he said. “Let’s have a chat in a month or so to see if they’re active.”
Biden’s speech made it clear that the purpose of the sanctions changed after Putin’s invasion, according to William B. Taylor Jr., a longtime diplomat who served as acting ambassador to Ukraine under the presidency. Trump administration.
Understanding Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
What is the root cause of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine to be inside its natural sphere of influence, and it became irritated by Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the prospect of it joining NATO or the European Union. Although Ukraine is not included in this category, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
Mr. Taylor said of the Russian leader: “He is not discouraged and maybe he will not be. “And now the sanctions are to weaken his economy to make it harder for him to pursue this fight. The wars rob him of resources and sanctions designed to damage his economy make it impossible for him to pursue the war.”
But Mr. Taylor agrees with Mr. Biden’s assessment that those economic penalties are unlikely to provide immediate amnesty for those on the ground. “Ukrainians are on a long way,” Mr. Taylor said.
Richard Fontaine, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for a New American Security and a former foreign policy adviser to Senator John McCain, said “attempts to prevent an invasion have failed. ” But he added that the economic penalties Mr. Biden announced Thursday could still be an important tool “by imposing costs on Putin.”
“What you try to do is at least reduce his appetite when trying to do such things,” Mr. Fontaine said. “Though I doubt that too.” He added that Mr Biden would face a choice in the coming weeks over whether he should support a potential uprising in Ukraine.
The administration is likely to focus on NATO countries near Ukraine, where Mr. Biden is deploying US troops, Mr. Fontaine said.
“There is so much uncertainty about the end game they are aiming for here,” he said of Putin.
Mr. Biden on Thursday reiterated that US troops would not be involved in the war in Ukraine but warned that if Russian forces entered NATO allied countries, “we will be involved”.
“The only thing that concerns me is that if we don’t stop him now, he will be encouraged,” the president added.
Earlier, on Thursday, Mr. Biden met with his national security team in the Situation Room. Officials said they discussed “how we will hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine.” He also met via video with leaders of the Group of Seven in an effort to coordinate the global response.
Mr. Biden for weeks has threatened severe sanctions that could cripple Russia’s economy, in the hopes that Mr. Putin will reject his plans to invade his neighbour. Earlier this week, Mr. Biden authorized the start of those sanctions when the Russian leader announced his intention to wage war.
However, the president and his European allies withheld the toughest sanctions and warned Putin that sanctions would increase if his tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border.
In his speech on Thursday, Mr Biden said the new actions would go further, in part by imposing restrictions aimed at cutting off Russia’s access to technology such as semiconductors, computers, lasers and telecommunications equipment.
The goal is to reduce or even cripple industries that Putin values, including defense, aerospace and maritime. The new restrictions would prohibit the sale to Russia of basic technologies manufactured outside the United States but based on American technology or equipment.
Such products can no longer be exported to Russia, he said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/us/politics/biden-putin-sanctions-ukraine.html Biden denounces Putin’s actions in Ukraine