Biden announces sanctions against Russia, calls Putin’s moves an ‘invasion’
The measures also would target financial institutions, and Russian "elites," the US leader said.
US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the "first tranche" of sanctions against Russia, including steps to starve the country of financing, saying Moscow had started an invasion of Ukraine.
"We're implementing sanctions on Russia's sovereign debt. That means we've cut off Russia's government from Western financing," Biden said, threatening tougher steps if Russia "continues its aggression."
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"It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either."
The measures target VEB, Russia's state development bank, and members of the country's "elites," the US leader said.
"They share the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies, and should share in the pain as well."
The announcement came after the European Union unveiled its own sanctions in a coordinated Western effort to pressure Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Biden said the responses "have been closely coordinated with our allies and partners" and added, "We'll continue to escalate sanctions if Russia escalates."
While choking off new financing for Moscow is an unusual and potentially harsh step, Washington's response did not seem to go as far as the European Union, nor as far as some expected, although a senior US administration official said "all options remain on the table" including targeting Putin himself.
"We are starting high. These are severe costs we are imposing," the official told reporters. "The pain is building."
The "full blocking sanctions" on VEB and PSB, another bank key to financing the military, as well as their subsidiaries means the financial institutions will have any foreign assets frozen and will be prohibited from using the US banking system.
Washington likewise is targeting five individuals and their families, with similar effect.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in statement, "We continue to monitor Russia's actions and if it further invades Ukraine, the United States will swiftly impose expansive economic sanctions that will have a severe and lasting impact on Russia's economy."
However, the initial US penalties cover fewer financial institutions than the EU's, omitting the country's largest and most important bank, and did not sever the country from the SWIFT system used to move money around the globe.
Nor did Biden resort to export controls, which would have cut Russian firms off from key high-tech equipment and software, which some analysts said was a possibility.