US gives limited initial response to Russia as it introduces tougher sanctions

WASHINGTON – Russia’s decision to send troops into Ukraine on Monday has challenged the United States and Europe to decide how quickly to proceed with the imposition of tough sanctions on Moscow. balance between sanctions, deterrence, and maintaining unity among allies.

President Biden’s initial reaction was cautious, limited to enacting a narrow set of sanctions targeting two regions in eastern Ukraine, which are controlled in part by Russian-backed separatists. backed and recognized as independent by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

The targeted nature of the penalties appears to be intended to allow the United States and its European allies to withhold the harshest sanctions they have threatened to impose on Moscow if Mr. an all-out offensive to bring down Ukraine’s democratically elected government. .

On the private front, administration officials acknowledged that Mr. Putin appeared uninterested in further talks that did not address his core demand that NATO stop expanding eastward, and speculated that he mostly accepted diplomatic actions to buy time to muster his forces.

White House officials said a further Western response would almost certainly be announced on Tuesday, when some of Mr Biden’s aides said they expected to see Russian forces overflow across the border into Ukraine, across the line set by Mr. Biden. imposed “severe and swift” sanctions on Moscow.

The harshest include cutting Russia’s biggest banks from the global economic system, starving Russia’s heavy semiconductor industry and other advanced technology, and – if any – holding a meeting. uprising as Ukrainians fight for their freedom.

But it is unclear whether Mr. Biden or his reluctant allies – particularly Germany and Italy, which depend on Russian gas imports – are ready to roll out the full sanctions package.

Mr. Putin’s incremental approach to ramping up pressure on Ukraine appears to be aimed at exploiting any cracks in a fairly unified posture between NATO and Europe. Some countries may be reluctant to hit the harshest of sanctions if Mr. Putin’s forces remain in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, where Russia has been a major influence in the eight-year conflict.

However, the limited geographical scope of Mr. Putin’s initial statement on Ukraine’s territory stands in stark contrast to the implication in his tortuous, hour-long speech on Monday that the country as a whole is one. part of Russia.

He made it clear his bigger ambition was to take back Ukraine and continue rebuilding the empire that fell with the end of the Soviet Union three decades ago. At one point he said bluntly: “Today’s Ukraine was completely created by Russia – Bolshevik, Communist Russia to be exact,” he said.

Speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity on Monday night, a senior administration official called Putin’s speech a speech to the Russian people to justify the war and said that The authorities have no illusions about what might happen next.

But it is unclear whether Mr. Putin is interested in the next round of sanctions, believing his economy can withstand whatever Biden and other Western leaders throw at him. In his speech, he called Mr Biden’s threats of sanctions “extortion”, saying they would be “applied to Russia no matter what happens in Ukraine.”

“The goal is to ‘keep Russia,’ he argues, to prevent it from developing. And they will do it even without any official reason. Just because we exist”.

Mr. Putin’s crooked, disgruntled speech was filled with accusations that Ukraine was seeking its own nuclear arsenal – with no corroborating evidence – and that NATO was plotting Tomahawk missiles on its territory. Ukraine, where they can hit Russia in minutes.

“I have no doubt that they have calculated how to realize these plans,” Putin said.

U.S. officials have said for months that there is no such plan, and Biden told a news conference in January that Ukraine was still years away from qualifying for NATO membership. However, Putin was not willing to comply with Putin’s demand that NATO stop accepting new members and he made a binding commitment in writing that Ukraine would never be part of the Western alliance. .

Mr. Biden’s options to counter any military move into Ukraine in the coming days are limited. He has repeatedly said that he will not allow American forces to enter the war in Ukraine. But there is no guarantee that the conflict will not spill over the Ukrainian border.

Europe is waiting for refugees fleeing a modern, if corrupt, democracy, whose president Volodymyr Zelensky, was in Munich on Saturday and defended his case that NATO must open up. door to his country – and thus protect it. Mr. Biden’s own national security officials have warned US utilities, banks and other businesses to beef up their networks in the face of what they fear will be a wave of cyber attacks and ransomware of Russian origin, which they have publicly warned could be launched in response to sanctions.

While Mr. Biden’s actions on Monday night were restrained, his administration condemned Russia’s decision as a violation of the rules governing the global order.

In a statement, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, called Putin’s move “a flagrant violation of Russia’s international commitments.”

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, called the move a violation of his organizational charter. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting late Monday night in which the United States and its allies condemned Moscow’s actions – but Russia retained a veto in that body, ensuring that they can stop any action.

In a joint statement, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, wrote that the European Union would “respond with punitive measures against those involved regarding this illegal act” and “reiterate its steadfast support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders. ”

White House officials said Biden spoke with Zelensky about 35 minutes after Putin’s speech. Psaki did not provide any details about the call, but said the United States was “continued in close consultation with allies and partners, including Ukraine.”

Mr. Biden’s decision to withhold full sanctions – for now – comes as voices across the political spectrum have called for the US and its European allies to roll out economic measures. is under threat over Moscow on Monday, before Mr Putin extends his control outward. Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

“Putin’s decision must immediately be met with strong sanctions aimed at destroying the ruble and crushing Russia’s oil and gas industry,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and a longtime Russian supporter, wrote on Twitter immediately after the Russian President finished his remarks.

Even close allies of Mr Biden, such as Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who regularly consults with the president on foreign policy issues, said Monday night that the timing was right. to inflict economic sanctions on Russia has begun.

“The time has begun to take action to impose significant costs on President Putin and the Kremlin,” he said in a statement while touring NATO countries in Eastern Europe. He said Putin “has made it clear that he intends to invade Ukraine further in a blatant attempt to redraw the borders of Eastern Europe to Moscow’s will.”

Michael A. McFaul, who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Russia, also urged Biden and US allies not to wait.

“Let’s be clear, this action is an invasion of the sovereign country of Ukraine,” he wrote on Twitter. “The West must react strongly not ‘proportionately’ and fully implement the sanctions it has promised.” US gives limited initial response to Russia as it introduces tougher sanctions

Fry Electronics Team

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