Just hours before his first speech after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said today that the G7 had agreed to impose “devastating” economic sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Europe.
“I met this morning with my G7 colleagues to discuss President Putin’s unprovoked attacks in Ukraine and we agreed to move forward with a devastating package of sanctions and other economic steps to hold Russia to account,” Biden said on social media.
The group brings together the world’s seven largest economic powers: bringing together leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States. Join.
Previously, the G7 had criticized Putin for attacking Ukraine.
“We condemn President Putin for his consistent refusal to engage in the diplomatic process to address issues relating to European security, despite our repeated offers,” read a statement issued by the G7.
In the US, the Biden administration is hoping to stem the escalation of the conflict with a series of sanctions far from the broader economic penalties that members of the US Congress have suggested in recent weeks.
Biden’s demonstration comes more than 12 hours after Russia decided to invade Ukraine, marking Europe’s most serious military crisis since World War II, and the largest such operation since the US invaded Iraq in 2003.
The invasion took place by air, land and sea, in a series of attacks on Ukraine, a European democracy of 44 million people.
The deployment of troops across Ukraine’s northern, eastern and southern borders comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin denied for months that he would attack a neighboring country.
Kiev (the seat of the Russian government) and NATO classify the move as a total invasion.
The invasion by land, air and sea began following a televised speech this morning (GMT) in which Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that the Ukrainian military lay down its arms.
Ukraine’s leader says his country “will not give up its freedom”: “Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself,” tweeted President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukraine declared martial law and cut all diplomatic relations with Russia.
Unrest since Putin ally was ousted
President Putin has frequently accused Ukraine of being taken over by anti-Kremlin extremists since his political ally, former President Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted in 2014 after months of protests against the government.
Russia then retaliated by seizing Crimea’s south and sparking an insurgency in the east by Russian-backed separatists battling Ukrainian forces in a war that has claimed 14,000 lives.
In late 2021, Putin began deploying a large number of Russian military units near the Ukrainian border.
This week, he scrapped a 2015 peace deal and recognized areas under rebel control as independent.
Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards the European Union and the Western defensive military alliance, NATO.
In announcing the invasion of Russia, Putin accused NATO of threatening “our historic future as a nation”.
More Responses from West
NATO has put warplanes on alert, but the Western alliance has made clear that there are no plans to send combat troops into Ukrainian territory. Instead, they offer state advisers, weapons, and a field hospital.
Meanwhile, 5,000 NATO troops are deployed to the Baltic states and Poland. Another 4,000 can be shipped to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia.
So far, the Western response to Russia has focused on actions against Russian finances and some individuals.
Soon after Putin tore up the 2015 Minsk peace deal with Ukraine, a series of sanctions were imposed with other measures on hold in hopes that Russia would not strike:
- Germany has suspended approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a major investment by Russian and European firms;
- The European Union has approved sanctions covering all 351 lawmakers who voted for Russia’s “illegal decision” to recognize territory controlled by pro-Kremlin rebels as an independent state;
- The US says it will cut off the Russian government from Western financial institutions;
- Britain targets five major Russian banks and three billionaires;
- The three Baltic countries have now called on the entire international community to disconnect the Russian banking system from the international Swift payment system. This could have an impact on the US and European economies.
What does Putin want?
In the weeks and months leading up to the invasion, Russia had made a series of demands for “security guarantees” from the West, most of which involved NATO. And President Putin has partly blamed his decision to attack NATO’s eastward expansion. He had previously complained that the Russians “had nowhere else to turn to — do they think we’re going to sit idly by?”
“For us, it is absolutely mandatory to ensure that Ukraine never becomes a member of NATO,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.
Putin’s other core demands were that NATO not deploy “attack weapons near Russia’s borders” and that NATO remove troops and military infrastructure from member states that have joined the alliance since 1997.
Last year, President Putin wrote a lengthy text describing Russia and Ukraine as “one country”, and described the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 as the “historic disintegration of Russia”.
He claims that modern Ukraine was created entirely by communist Russia and is now a puppet state, controlled by the West.
President Putin also argued that if Ukraine joined NATO, the alliance could try to retake Crimea.
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