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President Joe Biden issued a continuation of an executive order that declared a “national emergency” in the United States linked to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, according to a White House notice.
Signed in March 2014 by then-President Barack Obama, Executive Order 13660 declared “a national emergency” amid the “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of persons that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets,” said Wednesday’s notice.
The order was signed after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. However, it has been expanded over the years with additional executive orders, including the taking of additional sanctions.
Just days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Biden signed another executive order that “further expanded the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13660” and “relied on for additional steps taken” in other orders.
“The actions and policies addressed in these Executive Orders continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” the White House said, adding that Biden will continue “for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13660.”
The White House added that executive orders “deal with” individuals who “undermine Ukraine’s democratic processes” as well as threaten the country’s security, peace, and sovereignty.
The statement comes as the war between Russia and Ukraine intensified in recent weeks as both sides battle in Bakhmut, located in eastern Donetsk Oblast.
Ukrainian forces held out in the eastern city of Bakhmut against Russian attackers on Thursday, while President Vladimir Putin said Russia had been hit by what he called a terrorist attack in its southern Bryansk region bordering Ukraine.
Putin vowed to crush what he said was a Ukrainian sabotage group that had fired at civilians. Russia’s FSB security force said later that the situation there was “under control.”
Bakhmut has been reduced to a blasted wasteland, with a few thousand of its 70,000 pre-war civilian population still there as armies battle street-by-street. Russian troops, bolstered by mercenaries of the Wagner private army, have been advancing north and south of the city to cut it off.
Ukraine says the city has limited strategic value but it is exhausting Russia’s invasion force in what has become the bloodiest battle of the war.
“Sooner or later, we will probably have to leave Bakhmut. There is no sense in holding it at any cost,” Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Rakhmanin said late on Wednesday. The aim was to “inflict as many Russian losses as possible.”
Also Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley said he spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, according to a Pentagon readout.
“They discussed the unprovoked and ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and exchanged perspectives and assessments. The chairman reaffirmed unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” U.S. Army Col. Dave Butler said in a statement about the call.
In Washington, national security spokesman John Kirby said Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will discuss Ukraine assistance when they meet on Friday at the White House. The United States will announce another military aid package for Ukraine on Friday, Kirby told reporters at the White House on Thursday.
Reuters contributed to this report.