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Ukraine latest 'Russia has undeniably moved against Ukraine,' says Biden as US and EU impose sanctions

 'Who in the lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belongs to his neighbours?'

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Joe Biden

Joe Biden

Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden has said that Russia’s has “now undeniably moved against Ukraine” after Vladimir Putin ordered troops into the eastern part of the country.

"This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Mr Biden said.

The US President said they will begin to introduce sanctions, saying “who in the lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belongs to his neighbours?”.

President Biden said Russia “was trying to carve out a large swathe of Ukraine” and said Mr Putin’s claims on Tuesday that the territories extend beyond the regions under separatist control are “setting up a rationale to go much further”.

Mr Biden announced a suite of sanctions that the US will impose on Russia and said the US would go further should Russia go "further with its invasion of Ukraine".

"I told Putin to his face more than a month ago that we would act together [US and EU] the moment Russia moved against Ukraine. Russia has now undeniably moved against Ukraine by declaring these independent states".

Mr Biden said the US was implementing "full blocking sanctions" on two Russian banks; VEB and Sberbank - a Russian military bank.

"We have also cut off Russia's government from Western finances. Russia can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in our new markets, or European markets, either," Mr Biden said.

Russia's elites and their families will also be targeted by sanctions, Biden said, as they "share in the corrupt games along with the Kremlin's policies and should share in the pain as well".

"As Russia contemplates our next move, we have our next move prepared, as well. Russia will pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression, including further sanctions".

It comes as the European Union agreed new sanctions on Russia that will blacklist more politicians, lawmakers and officials, ban EU investors from trading in Russian state bonds, and target imports and exports with separatist entities.

The package of sanctions includes all members of the lower house of the Russian parliament who voted in favour of the recognition of the breakaway regions, freezing any assets they have in the EU and banning them from travelling to the bloc.

The UK also moved to sanction three Russian oligarchs and five banks as Boris Johnson said Russia was moving towards “pariah status”.

Rossiya, IS Bank, GenBank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank - were being sanctioned, along with three people - Gennady Timchenko, and the brothers Igor and Boris Rotenberg.

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Demonstrators hold placards and wave Ukrainian flags during an anti-war protest in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin, Germany. Photo: REUTERS/Christian Mang.

Demonstrators hold placards and wave Ukrainian flags during an anti-war protest in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin, Germany. Photo: REUTERS/Christian Mang.

Demonstrators hold placards and wave Ukrainian flags during an anti-war protest in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin, Germany. Photo: REUTERS/Christian Mang.

 

It was not immediately clear when the sanctions would take effect, but diplomats expect them in the coming hours or days, when names and details will be made public.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was not personally sanctioned by EU foreign ministers, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said following a meeting in Paris on Tuesday.

Russia's formal recognition of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine was “an unacceptable breach of Ukraine's sovereignty”, Borrell said.

"This package of sanctions that has been approved by unanimity by the member states will hurt Russia, and it will hurt a lot," Borrell told a news conference alongside France's foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at a meeting in Paris.

“The EU sanctions package will hit 351 members of the Russian State Duma who voted for the recognition of the so-called LPR and DPR.

“No more: Shopping in Milan. Partying in Saint Tropez. Diamonds in Antwerp. This is a first step. We Stand United,” Mr Borrell said.

Separately, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told Reuters that further Russian aggression in Ukraine would result in more sanctions, in coordination with the United States.

Borrell also said: "We are going to target 27 individuals and entities who are playing a role in undermining or threatening Ukrainian territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence."

Borrell said those individuals and entities were in Russia's defence, banking and financial sector.

"We target the ability of the Russian state and government to access our capital and financial markets and services," Borrell said.

Banks involved in financing separatist activities in eastern Ukraine would also be targeted.

The two regions could also be removed from a free-trade deal between the EU and Ukraine, "to ensure that those responsible clearly feel the economic consequences of their illegal and aggressive actions," an EU statement said.

Borrell congratulated Germany's decision to put the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project on ice, arguably the most far-reaching reaction to Moscow's move late on Monday. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also praised Berlin.

The EU had repeatedly said it was ready to impose "massive consequences" on Russia's economy if Moscow invaded Ukraine but has also noted that, given the EU's close energy and trade ties to Russia, it wanted to move in stages.

Not all of the bloc's 27 member states have the same relation to Russia or dependency on its gas, which could eventually complicate the adoption of further sanctions.

EU officials and diplomats have said some EU countries, including Austria, Hungary and Italy, Russia's closest allies in the bloc, would prefer more limited sanctions in response to Putin's move on eastern Ukraine.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, whose country relies on Russia for much of its gas, told a news conference in Rome that any sanctions should not include energy imports.

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