U.S. President Joe Biden has announced an additional round of sanctions on Russia intended to punish the country for its invasion of Ukraine.
"Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences," Biden said in a Thursday speech, where he laid out sanctions including export controls to “impose severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time.”
Despite the move, Biden said that he will not be cutting Russia off from the SWIFT payment system, which international banks use to transfer funds and carry out business, following objections from Germany, Hungary, Cyprus and Italy.
The move has angered Ukrainian officials, who claim that European and U.S. politicians will have “blood on their hands” if they decide against blocking Russia from the system, through which it receives foreign currency, the Guardian reported.
“I will not be diplomatic on this,” tweeted Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. “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. BAN RUSSIA FROM SWIFT.”
SWIFT is used by over 11,000 financial institutions to secure payment orders and is crucial for Russia’s trading partners to import and export goods and services from the country, including its oil and gas.
Removing Russia from the system would make it next to impossible for any financial institutions to do business with Russia, with consequences exceeding the country’s borders. Europe is highly dependent on Russian natural gas, which makes up a third of Europe’s supply of the source. Western Europe is also a major importer of Russian oil.
Speaking from the White House East Room, Biden included four Russian banks and “corrupt billionaires” and their families close to the Kremlin in the sanctions. During his speech, Biden announced a new round of ground and air forces to Europe’s eastern countries bordering Russia and Ukraine.
Despite reinforcing NATOs presence in the region, Biden reiterated his commitment not to directly engage in conflict with Russia.
“Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict,” he said. “Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the east.”
In addition to banning some banks, U.S. sanctions include new restrictions on technology exports and targets Putin’s closest allies in and out of the Kremlin.
To assuage concerns about rising gas prices in the United States, Biden said that he will limit the fallout new sanctions would have on energy prices. The president said the U.S. was ready to release barrels from the strategic petroleum reserve.
"I know this is hard and that Americans are already hurting," he said. "I'll do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump."
As reported by Rebel News, Russia launched a “special military operation” that soon evolved into a full-scale invasion of its neighbor, Ukraine, over years of hostilities in the country’s eastern province of Donbass