US President Joe Biden described events now underway in Ukraine as "the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine" as he unveiled harsh new sanctions to punish Moscow.
"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 neighbors?”
"I'm going to begin to impose sanctions in response, far beyond the steps we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014. And if Russia goes further with this invasion we stand prepared to go further as with sanctions," Biden said in White House remarks.
"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 neighbors?” Biden asked. "This is a flagrant violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community."
"I'm announcing the first tranche of sanctions to impose costs on Russia in response to their actions yesterday," Biden said in remarks from the White House. "These have been closely coordinated with our allies and partners and we'll continue to escalate sanctions if Russia escalates."
Here are the sanctions as detailed by Biden:
"We're implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions: VEB and their military bank."
"We're implementing comprehensive sanctions on Russia's sovereign debt. That means we've cut off Russia's government from Western financing. It can no longer raise money from the West and can not trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either."
"We'll also impose sanctions on Russia's elites and their family members. They share in the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well."
"We've worked with Germany to ensure that Nord Stream 2 will not ... move forward."
Biden also noted that if Russia "continues its aggression," additional sanctions could follow.
The US President pledged his administration was using “every tool at our disposal” to limit the effect of sanctions against Russia on domestic gas prices, acknowledging that Americans will likely see rising prices at the pump in the coming months.
“As I said last week, defending freedom will have costs, for us as well and here at home,” Biden said. “We need to be honest about that. But as we do this, I'm going to take robust action to make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at the Russian economy, not ours.”
Moving forward, Biden said the administration is “closely monitoring energy supplies for any disruption.”
Last week, Biden signaled Americans should expect to see rising prices in the event of further sanctions against Russia, currently the second largest oil producer in the world. JPMorgan has warned of $120 or even $150 per barrel crude oil if Russian exports are disrupted. The current price is less than $100 per barrel.
Biden’s description of Russia’s actions in Ukraine immediately ups the stakes for his response. He and other senior officials have vowed to impose severe economic consequences if Russian troops cross into Ukraine, including on members of Putin’s inner circle and Russian financial institutions.
But Biden is also expecting to reserve some of his toughest measures, hoping to use them should Putin wage the type of bloody and sustained attack US officials have been warning about for weeks.
The administration began describing events in eastern Ukraine as an "invasion" earlier Tuesday after assessing the situation on the ground there, according to administration officials.
The White House declined to provide specific intelligence that might further explain the shift in tone. See Biden's full speech below.