Biden, European Leaders Double Down on Russia Sanctions

Russia, sanctions, Biden, EU

U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of the United Kingdom, dozens of European countries, Oceania and Japan announced sweeping sanctions on Thursday (Feb. 24) aimed at punishing Russia financially in response it its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The measures, disclosed in coordinated announcements Thursday, target Russia’s economy and the assets and incomes of specific wealthy Russians with connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Some sanctions took immediate effect; leaders said others will hit next week, according to The Wall Street Journal. They follow less drastic sanctions implemented in recent days in an unsuccessful effort to convince Putin to not invade Ukraine.

The sanctions did not include blocking Russia from the SWIFT payments system — a step called for by some political leaders in the U.K., the U.S. and Ukraine’s president. Biden said doing remains a possibility.

Read more: UK PM Boris Johnson Wants Russia Booted From SWIFT

“It is always an option, but right now that’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take,” he said.

The sanctions were designed to inflict “a severe cost on the Russian economy,” Biden said, adding: “I will do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump.”

“The sanctions we imposed exceed anything that’s ever been done,” Biden continued. “The sanctions we imposed have generated two-thirds of the world joining us. They are profound sanctions.”

Sanction targets include major Russian lenders Sherbank and VTB, along with Russia’s transportation sector. The U.S. and its allies are also taking steps to limit sales of some semiconductors and biotech technology to Russian enterprises.

Some countries implemented specific local sanctions, such as the U.K.’s move to bar Russia’s Aeroflot airline from using U.K. airports.