President Joe Biden says the world would “hold Russia accountable,” vowing "severe sanctions" on Moscow after it launched a military operation in Ukraine’s Donbass region.
In a televised address early on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin announced he had ordered the Russian Federation's military to carry out a “special military operation” in the Donbass region after the leaders of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk asked the Kremlin for military assistance in response to what they called “Ukrainian aggression.”
Following Putin’s address, Biden said in a statement that “the United States and our allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia."
He said he would meet with G-7 leaders on Thursday, noting, “We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine.”
"Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring. The world will hold Russia accountable," the US president said.
Meanwhile, US senators on both sides of the aisle also called on the Biden administration to turn up the pressure on Russia following its military operation.
"President Biden has already imposed an initial tranche of sanctions, and it is now time for us to up the pain level for the Russian government," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a statement.
"I urge the Biden administration to respond swiftly and in concert with our allies to impose crushing economic sanctions on Kremlin officials, Russian entities and other actors involved in his attack on Ukraine," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said.
The US and its allies must subject "Putin and Russia to the harshest economic penalties, by expelling them from global institutions, and by committing ourselves to the expansion and modernization of our national defense," Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said.
Also, Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman called “for the administration to lead the world in a unified response."
Republican lawmakers had earlier blamed Biden for the Ukraine crisis, saying his administration cleared the way for Russia’s actions in Ukraine with a series of foreign policy blunders.
“Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a renewed invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible. Sadly, President Biden consistently chose appeasement and his tough talk on Russia was never followed by strong action,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other House GOP leaders in a statement on Wednesday.
A day earlier, the Biden administration, in coordination with European allies, unveiled an initial tranche of sanctions on Russia over its decision to send troops into the Donbas.
Putin on Monday recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics as independent and afterward ordered troops into the Donbas region.
The recognition followed an address in which he referred to eastern Ukraine as “ancient Russian lands” being “managed by foreign powers.”
In his address on Thursday, the Russian leader emphasized that the goal of the military operation “will be to defend people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”