Updated Feb 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils new Russia sanctions: Putin must "bear the consequences"

President Biden on Thursday declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin "will be a pariah on the international stage" for his unprovoked attack on Ukraine, and he announced severe new sanctions that include sweeping export controls and a freeze on billions of dollars' worth of Russian assets.

Why it matters: The new sanctions are coordinated with the G7 — countries that together make up 50% of the world's GDP — and are designed to "maximize a long-term impact on Russia and to minimize the impact on the United States and our allies."

  • "Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences," Biden said.
  • Moments after Biden finished speaking, the Pentagon announced that an additional 7,000 U.S. troops would be deployed to Europe to shore up NATO's defenses.

Details: Sberbank — which is Russia's largest financial institution and holds nearly one-third of the overall Russian banking sector's assets — will be cut off from the U.S. financial system.

  • "Full-blocking" sanctions will be imposed on four additional Russian banks, freezing the U.S.-based assets of VTB, Bank Otkritie, Sovcombank OJSC, Novikombank and 34 subsidiaries.
  • New debt restrictions will be imposed on 13 Russian state-owned enterprises and entities that together hold nearly $1.4 trillion in assets: Sberbank, AlfaBank, Credit Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank, Russian Agricultural Bank, Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Transneft, Rostelecom, RusHydro, Alrosa, Sovcomflot, and Russian Railways.
  • The U.S. will impose sweeping export controls on technologies critical to the Russian defense sector and broader economy, including semiconductors, telecommunication, encryption security, lasers, sensors, navigation, avionics and maritime technologies.
  • Seven Russian elites and their family members who hold "some of the highest position of powers in the country" will also be sanctioned.

Zoom out: The European Union, Australia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom plan similar actions, acting as a "force multiplier," according to the White House.

Between the lines: Biden did not announce that Russia would be disconnected from SWIFT, which is akin to the central nervous system for international financial transactions.

  • SWIFT sanctions were viewed as among the harshest under consideration, but some European allies feared that disconnecting Russia would cause collateral economic damage.
  • Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted earlier Thursday: "Everyone who now doubts whether Russia should be banned from SWIFT has to understand that the blood of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children will be on their hands too."
  • Pressed by a reporter, Biden said cutting Russia off from SWIFT is "always an option" but "right now that's not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take."

The big picture: Biden said there is "a complete rupture right now in U.S. and Russia relations" and that sanctioning Putin himself remains on the table.

What he's saying: "The Russian military has begun a brutal assault on the people of Ukraine without provocation, without justification, without necessity. This is a premeditated attack. Vladimir Putin has been planning this for months, as we've been saying all along," Biden said.

  • Biden emphasized that U.S. forces "are not and will not be engaged in a conflict with Russia in Ukraine, and our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but to reassure those allies in the East."
  • "This aggression cannot go unanswered, and if it did, the consequences for America would be much worse. America stands up to bullies. We stand up to freedom."

Go deeper: Ukraine-Russia crisis latest developments

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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