President Joe Biden has announced a new wave of sanctions against Russia and said the US is deploying additional forces to Germany to bolster NATO in the face of “naked aggression” from President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking during a press conference at the White House, the US president said “freedom will prevail” after Mr Putin “chose this war”.
President Biden said the sanctions the US was imposing today aim to “maximise long-term impact” on Russia, while minimising the impact on allies.
Explosions near major Ukrainian cities including the capital Kyiv – follow live updates
US deploys 7,000 troops to Germany
He made clear that American troops would not fight in Ukraine, but the US would help defend “every inch of NATO territory” – as he authorised additional US forces to Germany.
Key developments at a glance:• 40 Ukrainian soldiers and dozens of civilians ‘killed’• 50 Russian troops reportedly dead• PM unleashes UK’s ‘largest set of sanctions ever’ on Russia• New US sanctions announced and 7,000 troops heading to Germany• Ukrainian president: Russian attack ‘like fascist Germany in WWII’• Champions League final set to be moved from Russia
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A US defence official later confirmed that the US will send 7,000 troops to Germany to help reassure NATO allies who are part of a larger contingent that had already been put on alert earlier this year.
The troops would be made up of an armoured brigade combat team and would leave for Germany in the coming days, the official added.
Mr Biden confirmed that NATO will convene a summit tomorrow with the leaders of 20 allied nations and close partners.
This will “affirm our solidarity and map out the next steps we’ll take to further strengthen all aspects of our NATO alliance”.
Image: Russia has launched three main axes of assualt
‘Strong limitations’ on exports to Russia
The US president said “strong limitations” will be imposed on what can be exported from the US to Russia, which will hammer its access to global exports of everything from commercial electronics and computers to semiconductors and aircraft parts.
He said: “This is going to impose a severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time.
“We have purposefully designed these sanctions to maximise a long-term impact on Russia and to minimise the impact on the United States and our allies.
“I want to be clear, the United States is not doing this alone.
“For months we’ve been building a coalition of partners representing well more than half the global economy.”
Further sanctions on Russian banks
Mr Biden said the US will hinder the ability of Russians to finance and grow the Russian military – and reduce their ability to “compete in a high-tech 21st-century economy”.
He added: “We have now sanctioned Russian banks that together hold around one trillion dollars in assets. We’ve cut off Russia’s largest bank, a bank that holds more than one-third of Russia’s banking assets by itself. We cut it off from the US financial system.
Image: Joe Biden announced tougher sanctions on Russian banks
“And today we’re also blocking four more major banks. That means every asset they have in America will be frozen. This includes VTB, the second largest bank in Russia which has $250bn in assets.
“As promised, we’re also adding names to the list of Russian elites and their family members that we’re sanctioning as well.”
He explained that these are people who “personally gain” from the Kremlin’s policies.
“Some of the most powerful impacts of our actions will come over time,” he said. “Between our actions and those of our allies and partners we estimate that we’ll cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports.”
Putin will be a ‘pariah’ on the world stage
The US president said he estimates the sanctions will cut off “more than half” of Russia’s high-tech imports after previously promising “swift and severe costs” if Russian forces moved into Ukraine.
He said Putin will be a “pariah” on the world stage after the Russian president authorised a “flagrant violation of international law”.
“For weeks, we have been warning that this would happen, and now it’s unfolding largely as we predicted,” the president said.
But Mr Biden warned Putin’s aggression would cost Russia dearly and that NATO was “more united than ever”.
Concluding his statement, he said: “America stands up to bullies. We stand up [for] freedom – this is who we are.”
First wave of sanctions announced earlier this week
Mr Biden announced the first wave of US sanctions against Russia in retaliation for Moscow’s actions in Ukraine on Tuesday.
He said the penalties would be slapped on Russian banks, oligarchs and the country’s sovereign debt.
He told reporters that Russian troops being ordered to eastern Ukraine after Vladimir Putin recognised the independence of two separatist regions marked the “beginning of an invasion”.
The sanctions targeted Russia’s VEB bank and the country’s military bank, Promsvyazbank, which does defence deals, and were also applied to Russia’s sovereign debt.
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‘This is the beginning of a Russian invasion’
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was hitting Russia with what he called the “largest set of sanctions ever imposed anywhere by the UK government” – targeting individuals including President Vladimir Putin’s former son-in-law.
On Thursday morning, Moscow’s stock exchange briefly suspended trading on all its markets.
When trading resumed, the ruble-denominated MOEX stock index tumbled more than 20% and the dollar-denominated RTS index plunged by more than one-third.
Source : Sky News