Following the United States sanctions on Ukraine’s so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republics on February 21, US President Joe Biden has now announced a new set of fiscal and economic sanctions against Russia after their recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent and sovereign countries, deeming the deployment of Russian ‘peacekeeper’ troops into the region as the beginning of a Russian invasion.  It is more accurately called an occupation of Ukrainian territory previously invaded in 2014.

“He’s setting up a rationale to go further. This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Biden said. “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. This is a flagrant violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community.”

Biden imposed the first tranche of sanctions on Russia that goes hand in hand with other sanctions made by US and other countries that support Ukrainian  These sanctions target Russia’s financial institutions, sovereign debt, and Russian elites and oligarchs that have allegedly supported Putin and pillaged the Russian state.  The administration believes that these sanctions will cripple Russia’s economy.

Biden also announced other moves, including providing more ‘defensive’ assistance to Ukraine of an unknown amount and additional support and movement of US forces who are already in Europe, strengthening US allies Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Eight hundred troops based in Italy were said to be deployed to the Baltics, with small numbers of aircraft also deployed to NATO allies. Biden emphasized that these military movements are to defend NATO territory and completely defensive and that there is no intention of fighting a war with Russia. Note that Ukraine is not a NATO member, and its membership has been more or less been on hold since they expressed interest in applying for membership.

“We have no intention of fighting Russia. We want to send an unmistakable message though — that the United States, together with our allies, will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made to NATO,” said the President.