Biden unveils sanctions, says Russia will 'bear the consequences' of Ukraine attack
Sanctions will limit Russia's ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen, U.S. president says
U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled harsh new sanctions against Russia on Thursday after Moscow launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine, imposing measures to impede Russia's ability to do business in the world's major currencies — along with sanctions against banks and state-owned enterprises.
"This is a premeditated attack," Biden told reporters at the White House, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected attempts by the West to engage in dialogue and had violated international law.
"Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences."
Biden said the sanctions were designed to have a long-term impact on Russia and to minimize the impact on the United States and its allies. And he said Washington was prepared to do more. He added that the sanctions would limit Russia's ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen.
Biden said NATO would meet on Friday to map out further measures. He reiterated that the U.S. would not engage in war with Russia but that it would meet its Article 5 commitments to defend partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The U.S. president said this was a dangerous moment for all of Europe and that he had authorized troops that had been placed on standby to deploy to Germany.
"Putin's aggression against Ukraine will end up costing Russia dearly," Biden said. "Putin will be a pariah on the international stage."
On Friday, the United Nations Security Council will vote on a draft resolution that would condemn Russia for invading Ukraine and require Moscow to immediately and unconditionally withdraw, but the measure is set to fail because Moscow can cast a veto.
Although action will be blocked in the 15-member Security Council, Washington and allies see a vote as a chance to show Moscow is isolated over its actions. Diplomats said it appeared at least 11 members would vote in favour, while it was unclear how China, India and the United Arab Emirates would vote.
Canada, EU announce sanctions
Canada also announced more sanctions on Thursday, targeting 62 individuals and entities connected to Russia, including members of the elite and major banks, and cancelled all export permits following the attack on Ukraine.
"Today, in light of Russia's reckless and dangerous military strike, we are imposing further, severe sanctions," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference.
"These sanctions are wide-reaching. They will impose severe costs on complicit Russian elites, and they will limit President Putin's ability to continue funding this unjustified invasion," Trudeau said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said hundreds of export permits covering goods worth more than $700 million will be immediately cancelled — a blow to Russian companies that import valuable Canadian goods such as aerospace parts, technology and minerals.
European Union leaders, too, pledged on Thursday to impose new economic and financial sanctions on Russia.
The EU will freeze Russian assets in the bloc and halt its banks' access to European financial markets as part of what EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described as "the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented."
The sanctions will also target Russia's energy and transport sectors among others, and seek to stifle its trade and manufacturing with export controls.
"Our sanctions will hurt the Russian economy in its heart," Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.
However, the bloc held back from taking the harshest measures sought by Ukraine and split over just how far to take the sanctions, leaving details to be worked out in the coming days.
U.S. had warned about wave of sanctions
Biden met with his counterparts from the Group of Seven earlier on Thursday to map out more severe measures against Russia after Putin launched the attack. Biden, who spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky late on Wednesday, also convened his National Security Council on Thursday to discuss the situation.
His announcement represented the second major tranche of sanctions against Russia since Putin earlier this week declared two breakaway regions of Ukraine independent and sent troops there.
The U.S. had warned it would initiate waves of sanctions against Moscow if it further invaded Ukraine, and Russia's full-on military assault launched on Thursday led to the latest round of penalties in co-operation with Western allies.
Britain unveiled new measures targeting banks, members of Putin's inner circle and the very wealthy who enjoy high-rolling London lifestyles. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament that leaders had agreed to work together to "maximize the economic price" Putin will pay.
In addition, Britain will also prohibit Russia's flagship airline, Aeroflot, from landing at British airports.
On Wednesday, Washington imposed sanctions on the company in charge of building Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and on Tuesday it sanctioned two large Russian financial institutions and Russian sovereign debt, along with some members of the Russian elite and their family members.
Biden had faced political pressure at home to impose sanctions before Putin invaded. The White House has held open the door to diplomacy, even agreeing in principle earlier to a summit between the president and Putin if Russia did not invade.
NATO summit Friday
NATO moved to beef up its eastern flank facing Russia and planned a virtual leaders' summit for Friday after Putin warned anyone listening that any interference would "lead to consequences you have never seen in history."
In a joint statement earlier, G7 leaders said Putin had reintroduced war to the European continent.
"This crisis is a serious threat to the rules-based international order, with ramifications well beyond Europe," the leaders said.
"He has put himself on the wrong side of history," the leaders said in the statement released by Germany.
The leaders also earlier said they supported consistent and constructive engagement and co-ordination among major energy producers and consumers toward stable global energy supplies and were ready to act to address potential disruption.
French President Emmanuel Macron said France and its European allies did everything they could to try to head off the attack on Ukraine.
In a televised address to the nation, Macron said that Russia's attack is a "turning point in European history" and as a result, "there will be profound consequences for our continent and changes in our lives."
"To this act of war, we will reply without weakness," he said. "We will reply calmly and in a determined and united manner.
"We have tried everything to avoid this war, but it is here, and we are ready."
Macron said that sanctions will be "proportionate" to Russia's military operations, targeting its economy and its energy sector.
"We will show no weakness," he said. "We will take all measures necessary to defend the sovereignty and stability of our European allies."
Lithuania declares state of emergency
Lithuania, a member of the EU and NATO, declared a state of emergency since the Baltic nation borders Russia's Kaliningrad region to the southwest and Russia's ally Belarus to the east. NATO nations have 100 jets and 120 ships on high alert as deterrence.
"Make no mistake: We will defend every ally against any attack on every inch of NATO territory," NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called it a "barbaric attack" on an independent nation that also targeted "the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order." The EU will hold an emergency summit in Brussels.
But no one promised to move in militarily and defend Ukraine, as it could touch off a major European war.
The goal instead is to make Moscow pay so high a price by other means that the Kremlin will change course.
"Our mission is clear: Diplomatically, politically, economically and eventually militarily, this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure," Britain's Johnson said.
China, Iran did not condemn invasion
Highlighting a widening rift in superpower relations, China failed to condemn the attack and instead accused the U.S. and its allies of worsening the crisis.
It put its friendship in practice on Thursday by approving imports of wheat from Russia, a move that could help reduce the impact of possible increased Western sanctions. Russia is one of the world's biggest wheat producers, but it would be vulnerable if foreign markets block shipments.
In defence of Moscow, China "called on parties to respect others' legitimate security concerns."
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that "all parties should work for peace instead of escalating the tension or hyping up the possibility of war" — language China has consistently used to criticize the West in the crisis.
"Those parties who were busy condemning others, what have they done? Have they persuaded others?" Hua said.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told Putin in a phone call on Thursday that NATO's expansion was a "serious threat" to the region's security and stability, the semi-official Nour News reported.
"NATO's expansion eastward creates tension and is a serious threat to the stability and security of independent states in various areas," Raisi was quoted as saying following Russia's military attack on Ukraine.
"I hope what is happening will benefit peoples and the entire region," he said.
Stock markets plunge
The turmoil from the beginning of a long-feared act of aggression rippled from Europe to Asia. Stock markets plunged, oil prices surged and European aviation officials warned of a high risk to civilian aircraft over Ukraine, reminding air operators that "this is now an active conflict zone."
Russia's attack and uncertainty about the intensity of the Western response sent stocks tumbling and oil prices surging by more than $5 US per barrel. Market benchmarks in Europe and Asia fell by as much as four per cent, while Brent crude oil briefly jumped above $100 per barrel in London for the first time since 2014 on unease about possible disruption of supplies from Russia, the world's No. 3 producer.
In New York, the UN Security Council held an extraordinary emergency meeting meant to dissuade Russia from sending troops into Ukraine.
Secretary General Antonio Guterres's plea to "give peace a chance" came just as Putin appeared on Russian TV to announce the military operation.
To avoid international civilian casualties, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency said that "there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft" and that "the presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a HIGH risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes."
The invasion has touched all sectors of society across the globe. The director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention openly worried that global attention will now shift even further from helping the world's least vaccinated continent respond to COVID-19.
"The conflict in Ukraine definitely will draw attention, political attention, towards that crisis," John Nkengasong said.
A source told The Associated Press that the UEFA European soccer federation will no longer stage this season's May 28 Champions League final in St. Petersburg.
With files from The Associated Press and CBC News