Biden announces new ‘crushing’ sanctions on Putin’s Russia
President Joe Biden launched a new attack on Russia’s economy on Friday in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, joining forces with allies to slap tariffs on Russian goods and shut down development programs.
He also announced a ban on Russian seafood, vodka, and diamond imports.
In a battle of wills with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden said the steps would deal “another crushing blow” to Russia’s economy, which is already being weighed down by global sanctions that have cratered the rouble and caused the stock market to close.ru
“Putin is an aggressor. Putin is the aggressor. And Putin must pay a price,” Biden said at the White House, noting he had earlier spoken by phone to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
But Biden criticised voices in the United States clamouring for an active U.S. military presence in Ukraine or U.S. backing of a “no-fly zone” to protect Ukrainians from the Russian onslaught.
“The idea that we’re gonna send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with America pilots and American crews …that’s called World War III, OK? Let’s get it straight here, guys,” he told Democrats in Philadelphia.
“We will defend every inch of NATO territory, every single inch,” including NATO members bordering Russia, Biden said,
“Granted, if we respond it is World War III, but we have a sacred obligation on NATO territory … although we will not fight the Third World War in Ukraine,” he said.
At the White House, Biden joined fellow Group of Seven leaders in calling for revoking Russia’s “most favoured nation” trade status, which would allow G7 nations to increase tariffs and set quotas on Russian products.
The U.S. Congress would need to pass legislation to revoke the trade status, and lawmakers recently have been moving in that direction.
“We remain resolved to isolate Russia further from our economies and the international financial system,” the G7 said in a statement.
Trade made up about 46% of Russia’s economy in 2020, much of that with China or linked to energy exports that European nations depend on for heat and electricity, making it unclear how deeply these moves will impact Russia’s economy.
Biden also banned the U.S. import of Russian vodka, seafood and diamonds.
He warned that Russia would pay a “severe price” should it use chemical weapons against Ukraine. The United States has expressed fears that Russia could be paving the way for a chemical weapons attack, without citing evidence.
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told reporters on Air Force One that if Russia is targeting civilians in Ukraine “that would be a war crime.”
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation.”
Biden said the United States would add new names to a list of Russian oligarchs who are sanctioned, and ban the export of luxury goods to Russia.
In a separate statement, the White House said Biden would ban U.S. investment in Russia beyond the energy sector, and that G7 nations would move to block Russia from funds from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
“Those are the latest steps we’re taking but they’re not the last steps we’re taking.” Biden said.
The coordinated moves by Washington, London and other allies come on top of a host of unprecedented sanctions, export controls and banking restrictions aimed at pressuring Putin to end the largest war in Europe since World War Two.
The moves have already caused the Russian economy to collapse, and the IMF is now predicting that it will plunge into a “deep recession” this year.
On Thursday, Moscow banned the export of telecom, medical, auto, agricultural, electrical and tech equipment, as well as some forestry products, in retaliation.
The United States is expanding sanctions on Russia to include executives of sanctioned banks and Russian banker Yuri Kovalchuk, as well as Russian lawmakers.
“Russia cannot grossly violate international law and expect to benefit from being part of the international economic order,” the White House said in a statement.
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