Joe Biden Sanctions Russia; But Not Vladimir Putin or Russian Oil

US President Joe Biden makes a statement from the East Room of the White House about Russia's invasion of Ukraine February 24, 2022, in Washington, DC. - Biden announced "devastating" Western sanctions against Russia on Thursday. After a virtual, closed-door meeting, the G7 democracies said they stand firm against Russia's …
Brendan Smialowski /AFP/Getty Images

President Joe Biden announced Thursday he would level economic sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine, but not on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“For weeks, we have been warning that this would happen, and now, it’s unfolding largely as we predicted,” Biden said during a speech at the White House.

The president was uniquely focused on Putin’s attack against Ukraine, repeating that it was a war of choice by Russia.

“Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war and now he and his country will bear the consequences,” he said.

Biden predicted the sanctions would take time and said the United States and Europe had to be united in their resolve to punish Russia.

“This is going to take time, and we have to show resolve so he knows what’s coming and so the people of Russia know what he’s brought on them,” Biden said. “This is going to take time.”

Biden’s administration finally leveled sanctions on Russian banks after over a month of threatening severe economic pain if he attacked Ukraine. But the president admitted he did not expect Putin to change his mind soon as a result.

“It’s not going to occur — he’s going to say ‘oh my god, these sanctions are coming, I’m going to stand down,'” Biden continued.

The Biden administration also indicated earlier Thursday they would not sanction Russian oil, at a time when prices were already high.

When the president was asked by reporters if he was bluffing by hinting at direct sanctions against Putin weeks ago, Biden replied, “It’s not a bluff, it’s on the table.”

But he refused to answer multiple questions about why he decided against sanctioning Putin directly.

He also did not answer a question about whether he was communicating with China to isolate Russia financially.

“I’m not prepared to comment on that at the moment,” he said.


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