White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has announced that a proposed meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “certainly is not in the plans” anymore after the latter’s decision to declare the rebel regions in Ukraine as independent states and push more troops towards Kiev.
Addressing reporters late Tuesday, Psaki did not explicitly rule out a meeting in the future but said Biden would not meet Putin unless Russia de-escalates the situation in Ukraine by pulling back troops.
The Press Secretary’s remarks come after Biden Biden announced earlier on Tuesday the first round of tougher sanctions against Russian banks, oligarchs and others, with plans to escalate sanctions if Moscow advances its invasion.
The sanctions have been imposed on two large Russian financial institutions: V.E.B. and their military bank, as well as on Russian sovereign debt, which according to Biden is to “cut off Russia’s government from Western financing”.
Russia “can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either”, the President said while announcing the sanctions.
Biden said that his administration “will also impose sanctions on Russia’s elites and their family members. They share in the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well”.
Also on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also called off a Thursday meeting with his Russian counterpart, saying it no longer makes sense since Washington believes that a Russian invasion of Ukraine has begun.
Meanwhile, the 27 European Union (EU) member states agreed a range of anti-Russia measures, targeting all 351 members of Russia’s upper house that voted to recognise the two breakaway regions of Ukraine as independent states.
The EU’s response also targets 27 individuals and entities involved in the decision.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned on Wednesday that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine was “likely to occur within the next 24 hours”, the BBC reported.
More countries, including Canada and Japan, have now imposed financial and economic sanctions against Russia, following the lead taken by the EU and the US.