“Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will suffer the consequences,” Biden said, outlining a set of measures that “will impose a significant cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and in the long term”.
The new sanctions include blockages on technology exports, a centerpiece of Biden’s approach that he said would severely limit Russia’s ability to advance its military and aerospace sector. He also applied sanctions to Russian banks and “corrupt billionaires” and their families close to the Kremlin.
Biden has insisted his threat to directly sanction Putin remains “on the table” and is “not a bluff”, but he didn’t respond when asked why he hasn’t yet directly sanctioned the Russian president.
Asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins what could stop Putin if sanctions can’t, Biden replied, “I didn’t say sanctions couldn’t stop him.”
“The threat of sanctions… imposing the sanctions and seeing the effect of the sanctions are two different things,” Biden said. “He will start to see the effect of the sanctions.”
New sanctions targets are not limited to Russia. The United States has also prosecuted individuals in Belarus, including the country’s defense minister, for that country’s role in facilitating the Russian attack.
“Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict,” he said, addressing the nation from the East Room of the White House in his first public appearance since the start of the Russian attack Wednesday night. “Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but to defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the east.”
The president then briefed the top four congressional leaders on the situation in Ukraine, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said at a press conference in Kentucky.
In his public remarks, Biden framed his neighbor’s Russia invasion as a generational moment with the potential to upend the world order.
“Putin’s actions betray a grim vision for the future of our world, a vision where nations take what they want by force,” he said.
He said the Russian president’s actions would “end up costing Russia dearly, economically and strategically.”
Biden’s sanctions are now aimed at punishing Putin’s actions, rather than preventing them, by attacking Russia’s economy, its military capabilities and those closest to the Russian president. However, to what extent they can alter Putin’s decision-making in the future remains an open question.
“Nobody expected the sanctions to stop anything from happening. It’s going to take time. We have to show resolve. He knows what’s coming,” Biden said.
Mindful of rising gas prices in the United States, Biden said he was working to limit the fallout from the new sanctions on energy prices. He said the United States was ready to release barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve alongside its allies.
“I know it’s tough and Americans are already hurting,” he said. “I will do everything in my power to limit the pain that Americans are feeling at the gas pump.”
Biden also insisted that he hadn’t underestimated Putin, saying that “he has much bigger ambitions than Ukraine. He wants, in fact, to restore the former Soviet Union. C that’s what it’s all about”.
“I think his ambitions are completely opposite to where the rest of the world has arrived,” the president added.
Later Thursday, at a White House swearing-in ceremony, Vice President Kamala Harris called Russia’s actions in Ukraine “unprovoked” and “unwarranted.”
“All eyes around our country and the world are on Ukraine – and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And I want to make it clear that we know and believe this is ‘a war of choice,’ the vice president said.
Ahead of Biden’s announcement of new sanctions, he spoke with leaders of the Group of 7 industrialized nations about the sanctions they plan to impose, hoping to coordinate a response that projects unity among allies. Westerners. US and European officials spoke by phone overnight Thursday to coordinate their responses.
In a joint statement after the virtual meeting, G7 leaders said Putin had “reintroduced war on the European continent”.
“He got on the wrong side of history,” the executives wrote.
On Thursday morning, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, promised “to weaken Russia’s economic base and its ability to modernize” following Russia’s “barbaric attack” against Ukraine.
“We will freeze Russian assets in the European Union and prevent Russian banks from accessing European financial markets,” she said.
Biden also called a meeting of his National Security Council on Thursday morning to discuss the situation in Ukraine, a White House official said.
Biden’s top national security aides called emergency meetings Wednesday night as Putin announced plans to launch a “military operation” against Ukraine in a televised address. The speech was broadcast in Russia just as the United Nations Security Council was meeting to condemn Moscow’s behavior, catching some delegates off guard.
Huddled in the West Wing, Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan and other top officials prepared a statement from Biden condemning Russia’s attack as “unprovoked and unwarranted.”
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will result in catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden wrote in the statement, released at 10:25 p.m. ET just as explosions began in Kyiv.
An hour later, Biden was on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who contacted the White House as his country was under siege.
“He asked me to call on world leaders to speak out clearly against President Putin’s blatant aggression and to stand with the people of Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement. He said the United States and its partners planned “to impose severe sanctions on Russia.”
This story and headline were updated with additional developments on Thursday.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez, Nikki Carvajal and Allie Malloy contributed to this report.