Biden hits Russia with sanctions, puts more troops in Europe

US President Joe Biden makes a statement from the East Room of the White House about the conflict in Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022, in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

WASHINGTON/LONDON – US President Joe Biden announced on Thursday additional sanctions against Russia and the deployment of more troops to Europe as conflicts in Ukraine continue to evolve.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Biden said the new measures will target major Russian banks, limit the country's "ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds, and yen," and curtail Moscow's high-tech imports and its ability to upgrade the military.

The US president said he had authorized "deployment of ground and air forces stationed in Europe to the eastern flank," as well as "additional US force capabilities to deploy to Germany" as part of the response of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The US president said he had authorized "deployment of ground and air forces stationed in Europe to the eastern flank," as well as "additional US force capabilities to deploy to Germany" as part of the response of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

"Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict with Russia in Ukraine, our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the east," he reiterated, adding that NATO will convene a summit "tomorrow."

A senior US defense official said in a statement on Thursday afternoon that the Pentagon had ordered the deployment to Europe of approximately 7,000 additional service members and that they are expected to "depart in the coming days."

The troops, the official added, will deploy to Germany to reassure NATO allies, "deter" Russia's military operations and be prepared to support a range of requirements in the region.

Biden also addressed concerns that oil prices may further go up as a result of US sanctions against Russia.

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"We've been coordinating with major oil-producing and consuming countries toward our common interest to secure global energy supplies," he said. "The United States will release additional barrels of oil as conditions warrant."

The announcement was made hours after leaders of the Group of Seven countries met virtually to coordinate their responses to Russia's military actions in Ukraine.

This photo taken on Feb 24, 2022 at the Elysee Palace in Paris shows (from the left up) US President Joe Biden, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, President of the European Council Charles Michel, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron take part in a video-conference on Ukraine. (LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL VIA AP)

Biden tweeted he and his G7 counterparts had agreed to move forward on what he called "devastating packages of sanctions and other economic measures" against Russia.

We've been coordinating with major oil-producing and consuming countries toward our common interest to secure global energy supplies … The United States will release additional barrels of oil as conditions warrant.

Joe Biden, US President

Earlier on Thursday, Biden convened a meeting of the National Security Council in the White House Situation Room to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine.

$600 weapon assistance

Meanwhile, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to provide Ukraine with "lethal defense weapons" worth $600 million to help Kyiv defend itself against Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized "a special military operation" in Donbass on Thursday and Ukraine confirmed that military targets across the country were under attack.

In a televised speech, Putin said the "plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories" and that Russia is "not going to impose anything on anyone by force."

Russia's move, he explained, is in response to "fundamental threats" of NATO which has expanded to eastern Europe and brought its military infrastructure closer to Russian borders.

ALSO READ: Ukraine urges talks over Russia's decision on Donetsk, Luhansk

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that the United States and NATO have broken their commitments, continuously expanded eastward, refused to implement the new Minsk agreement, and violated the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2202.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that Kyiv decides to sever diplomatic relations with Moscow.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers an address on the crisis in Ukraine, in Downing Street, London on Feb 24, 2022. (JEFF MITCHELL / POOL PHOTO VIA AP)

Britain's new round of sanctions

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday announced a new round of "severe" sanctions against Russia, aimed at excluding Russian banks from the British financial system.

Britain will impose asset freezes on more than 100 new entities and individuals, ban Aeroflot Airline from Britain, and limit the amount of money that Russian nationals will be able to deposit in their British bank accounts

Speaking to Parliament, Johnson said his country is announcing "the largest and most severe package of economic sanctions that Russia has ever seen," including imposing a full asset freeze on Russian state-owned VTB Bank.

Furthermore, Britain will impose asset freezes on more than 100 new entities and individuals, ban Aeroflot Airline from Britain, and limit the amount of money that Russian nationals will be able to deposit in their British bank accounts.

The British government will also introduce legislation to prevent Russian companies from raising funds on British markets, and ban the export of "dual-use" equipment that can have military uses in the electronics, telecommunications and aerospace sectors, Johnson said.

READ MORE: Ukraine declares martial law amid Russia's military operation

On Tuesday, Britain had already announced its "first barrage" of sanctions against Russia as a response to the development of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. These sanctions targeted five Russian banks and three very high net worth individuals.