US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the “first tranche” of sanctions against Russia, including moves to starve the country of funding, saying Moscow had launched an invasion of Ukraine.
And Biden threatened that more drastic measures would be taken if Russia “continues its aggression”.
“We are enforcing sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt. This means we have cut Russia’s government from Western funding,” Biden said.
“It can no longer raise funds from the West and trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets.”
The measures also target the VEB, Russia’s State Development Bank and members of the country’s “elite”, the US leader said.
“They share the corrupt gains of Kremlin policies, and they must share in the pain as well.”
The announcement came after the European Union unveiled its own sanctions in a coordinated Western effort to pressure Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Biden said the responses were “closely coordinated with those of our allies and partners” and added, “We will continue to increase sanctions if Russia moves forward.”
However, Washington’s response did not go as far as the European Union, nor as far as some had hoped.
Biden announced “complete blocking sanctions” on both the VEB and Russia’s “military bank”, meaning foreign assets of institutions would be frozen and banned from accessing the US financial system.
However, the penalties cover fewer financial institutions, and do not appear to have decoupled the country from the SWIFT system used to transfer money around the world.
Nor did Biden resort to export controls, which would have cut Russian firms off key high-tech equipment and software, which some analysts said was a possibility.