Joe Biden has announced the first wave of US sanctions against Russia in retaliation for Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
The president said Russian troop deployments in eastern Ukraine after Vladimir Putin recognised the independence of two breakaway regions marked the “beginning of an invasion”.
He warned Moscow that it would “pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression”.
Mr Biden said his Russian counterpart was “setting up a rationale to take more territory by force”.
Ukraine key developments:
- UK targets five Russian banks and three oligarchs with sanctions
- EU sanctions Russian MPs who voted in favour of recognition
- White House refers to Russian troop deployments as an ‘invasion’
- Ukrainian president considering breaking off diplomatic ties with Russia
- Germany halts approval of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
Mr Biden said: “I’m going to begin to impose sanctions in response, far beyond the steps we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014.”
The latest sanctions target VEB bank and Russia’s military bank, Promsvyazbank, which does defence deals.
The sanctions are also being applied to Russia’s sovereign debt.
“We have cut off Russia’s government from Western financing. It can no longer raise money from the West,” he told reporters at the White House.
Mr Biden also said that tomorrow and in the coming days he would impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs and their families.
And the US leader said he had authorised the movement of additional American forces and equipment to bolster Baltic states in response to Russia’s activity in eastern Ukraine.
“We will defend every inch of NATO territory,” he said, adding: “We have no intention of fighting Russia.”
In a fast-moving crisis, Russian legislators earlier gave Mr Putin permission to use armed forces abroad, with the move a possible sign towards a broader attack on Ukraine.
Moscow recognised the independence of Russian-backed rebel regions in eastern Ukraine on Monday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Boris Johnson said the UK is sanctioning five Russian banks and three oligarchs, freezing their UK assets and banning travel to Britain.
The prime minister told the House of Commons it was the “first tranche” and “first barrage” of measures, in response to Russian troops moving into two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.