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.
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.
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”.
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Mr Biden announced the first wave of US sanctions against Russia in retaliation for Moscow’s actions in Ukraine earlier this week.
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.
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.