Telegraphing Russia’s playbook didn’t deter President Vladimir Putin from ordering troops into Ukraine.
An initial round of sanctions wasn’t enough to stop him from launching a full-scale attack.
Now, President Joe Biden will lay out the U.S. plan to hold Russia accountable for what could be the biggest military battle in Europe since World War II.
“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday after Putin announced a military operation in eastern Ukraine.
U.S. officials have estimated the invasion could cause major loss of life and injury. It could prompt a refugee crisis across Europe, test the NATO alliance, raise energy prices and turn Russia into a pariah state in the eyes of the West.
Biden is scheduled to consult with America’s most powerful allies Thursday morning, before addressing the nation in the afternoon on a coordinated response.
He is expected to announce a new round of sanctions that White House officials have cast as unprecedented. They could include targeting more Russian banks beyond the two already hit and imposing export controls to deprive Russia of technologies it needs to grow its high-tech industry.
“Security, economic, political, diplomatic: All of that will be forthcoming,” Blinken told ABC’s “World News Tonight” Wednesday. “All things that President Putin says he wants to prevent will be happening.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the new actions must include one of the most severe penalties contemplated: cutting Russia out of the SWIFT financial system, which shuffles money from bank to bank around the globe.
Lawmakers in both parties also urged Biden bring the hammer down on Putin.
“Today must mark a historical shift in how the world views and deals with the despot in Moscow,” Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.
The U.S. needs to “exact maximum costs on Putin, the Russian economy, and those who enabled and facilitated this trampling of Ukraine’s sovereignty,” Menendez said.
At the same time, Biden has promised to mitigate the impacts Russia’s invasion will have on the U.S. economy, particularly on energy prices. Russia is one of the world’s largest suppliers of oil and gas.
As he’s done repeatedly, Biden is likely to warn Americans that standing up to Russia is not without cost.
“Defending freedom will have costs for us as well,” Biden said on Tuesday. “We need to be honest about that.”
Putin warned on Wednesday that any attempt to interfere with the Russian assault would lead to “consequences they have never seen.”
The Russian leader’s announcement came not long after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an emotional address, said his people want peace.
“But if we come under attack that threaten our freedom and lives of our people we will fight back,” Zelensky said in a televised plea to avoid war.
During an emergency meeting at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield urged Russia to “back away from the brink before it is too late.”
“This is a perilous moment and we are here for one reason and one reason only,” Thomas Greenfield said, “to ask Russia to stop.”
Barbara Woodward, Britain’s ambassador to the U.N., said a full-scale conflict in Ukraine will bring “immense suffering, casualties on both sides, and devastating humanitarian consequences.”
“For months, Russia has been holding a gun to Ukraine’s head,” said Barbara Woodward, Britain’s ambassador to the U.N. “Now, President Putin’s finger is on the trigger.”
U.S. officials have been warning for weeks that Russia was poised for an imminent attack.
Satellite imagery and intelligence gathering had shown 80% of Russian forces moved into forward positions. Ten Russian amphibious landing ships were in the Black Sea to get boots on the ground, according to the Defense Department.
“Everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on “NBC Nightly News” Wednesday.
On Monday, Putin ordered troops into two pro-Russian separatist regions in eastern Ukraine that he declared “independent” from Ukraine and in need of military protection.
In response, the U.S. imposed “full blocking sanctions” on two major Russian financial institutions, as well as on the country’s sovereign debt.
The U.S. also imposed sanctions on Russia’s elites and their family members, and on the company and corporate officers overseeing the Russian-owned gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2. Germany has blocked certification of the pipeline that runs from Russia underseas to Germany.
Blinken said the U.S. and its allies are “doubling down on our support to Ukraine.”
Biden has repeatedly made clear, however, that the U.S. will not be sending troops into Ukraine. He has vowed the U.S. will move forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to bolster America’s Baltic allies, including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
“We’re going to do a number of things that Russia is not going to like, including reinforcing the NATO defensive alliance, including right near Russia’s borders to make sure we’re protecting allies and partners,” Blinken said.
A member of the Ukrainian military takes items from the back of a car in Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden says world will hold Putin accountable for ‘unprovoked and unjustified attack’ on Ukraine