US President Joe Biden announced “devastating” Western sanctions against Russia on Thursday and was shortly to address the American people on the unfolding invasion of Ukraine.
After a virtual, closed-door meeting which lasted an hour and 10 minutes, the group of rich Western democracies — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — said it was standing firm against Russia’s “threat to the rules-based international order.”
In a joint statement, the seven industrial powers also said they were “ready to act” to minimize disruptions to world energy markets as a result of Moscow’s assault on Ukraine and with sanctions already targeting a major pipeline from heavyweight energy producer Russia.
For weeks, as Russia built up tens of thousands of troops and heavy weapons on Ukraine’s border, Biden has led NATO and other European allies in trying to craft a package of what Washington says are “unprecedented” sanctions as a deterrent.
US officials are teeing up new sanctions that could include targeting huge banks, more oligarchs close to Putin and, crucially, a ban on exports to Russia of high-tech equipment and components.
And Germany’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, signalled Thursday there would be a “strong sanctions package” that will “cut off the Russian economy from industrial progress, will attack and freeze assets and financial holdings, and will dramatically limit access to the European and American markets.”
A first round of Western sanctions was unleashed Tuesday, after Putin announced he would send troops as “peacekeepers” to two small areas already controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.
Then on Wednesday, as the Russian invasion force became clearly primed to attack, Biden announced he was imposing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany — one of Moscow’s highest-profile geopolitical projects.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price warned this week that “no Russian financial institution is safe.”
Among the more controversial sanctions would be directly targeting Putin, who is widely reported to have amassed a vast, secret fortune during his two decades running Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking Thursday as Russian troops broadened their attack on his country, appealed directly for Moscow to be yanked from SWIFT.
Originally published as Biden says G7 will impose ‘devastating’ sanctions on Russia