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US sanctions Russia-backed Ukrainians as Biden, Blinken issue warnings

Jan 20, 2022


The Treasury Department announced the sanctions of four Ukrainian officials accused of being part of an effort from Russia to set the pretext for an invasion of Ukraine Thursday. Two of the four officials are current members of Ukraine’s parliament.

“The individuals designated today act at the direction of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), an intelligence service sanctioned by the United States, and support Russia-directed influence operations against the United States and its allies and partners,” the department said in a news release. “The four individuals have played various roles in Russia’s global influence campaign to destabilize sovereign countries in support of the Kremlin’s political objectives.”

The sanctions come as both President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine Thursday. Their comments, shown in the video above. According to the White House, President Biden’s comments came ahead of a meeting with his infrastructure implementation task force. There he clarified comments he made at a Wednesday news conference, which some interpreted as Biden giving Russia the green light to commit “a minor incursion.”

“I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin.  He has no misunderstanding.  If any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion,” Biden said Thursday. “And it would be met with severe and coordinated economic response that I’ve discussed in detail with our allies, as well as laid out very clearly for President Putin.”

Blinken’s comments came during and after a meeting with European allies in Berlin Thursday.

“It’s no accident that I’m offering these thoughts here in Berlin. Perhaps no place in the world experienced the divisions of the Cold War more than this city. Here, President Kennedy declared all free people citizens of Berlin. Here, President Reagan urged Mr. Gorbachev to tear down that wall,” Blinken said, according to the State Department. “It seems a time that President Putin wants to return to that era. We hope not. But if he chooses to do so, he’ll be met with the same determination, the same unity that past generations of leaders and citizens brought to bear to advance peace, to advance freedom, to advance human dignity across Europe and around the world.”

Blinken is set to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Friday. The high-stakes bid to ease tensions appears likely to fail.


Joe Biden, U.S. President: “Well, let me start by first saying a few words about Russia and Ukraine. I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding, if any, any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion. But and it will be met with severe and coordinated economic response that I’ve discussed in detail with our allies, as well as laid out very clearly for President Putin. But there is no doubt, let there be no doubt at all, that if Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price. That’s also not the only scenario we need to be prepared for. Russia has a long history of using measures other than overt military action to carry out aggression. Paramilitary tactics, so-called gray zone attacks and actions by Russian soldiers not wearing Russian uniforms. Remember when the movement of the Donbas from little green men? They weren’t, they were dealing with those who were Russian sympathizers and said that Russia had nobody in there. Well, that includes little green men in uniforms as well as cyber attack. We have to be ready to respond to these as well and in a decisive and united way with a range of tools at our disposal. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister said this morning that he’s confident of our support and resolve and he has a right to be.”

Anthony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State: “I have come to Berlin at a moment of great urgency for Europe, for the United States and, I would argue, for the world. Russia is continuing to escalate its threat towards Ukraine. We have seen that again in the just the last few days with increasingly bellicose rhetoric, building up its forces on Ukraine’s borders including now in Belarus. Russia has repeatedly turned away from agreements that kept the peace across the continent for decades and it continues to take aim at NATO, a defensive, voluntary alliance that protects nearly a billion people across Europe and North America.”