United States President Joe Biden has vowed “support and assistance” for Ukraine in a call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shortly after Russia launched an overnight invasion of the country.
In the call early on Thursday, Biden said Washington will “continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people”.
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He condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces”.
In a statement, the US president said Zelenskyy asked Washington to “call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly” against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “flagrant aggression”.
Tomorrow, I will be meeting with the Leaders of the G7, and the United States and our Allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia.
We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 24, 2022
In a previous statement released early on Wednesday, Biden said he would meet his G7 counterparts on Thursday to map out more severe measures against Russia, saying the US and its allies would act in “a united and decisive way” and “will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia”.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said in the initial statement.
Reporting from Washington, DC, Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro said the US leader is expected to announce a “full raft of sanctions”, adding the White House had said earlier on Wednesday “there would be no financial institution in Russia that is safe from these potential sanctions”.
The White House has not offered further details of the planned actions.
Biden has for weeks been under pressure to increase sanctions against Moscow, with legislators in Congress voicing rare bipartisan support for such an escalation following the Russian attack.
“Congress is actually giving bipartisan support to the president. It is a rare thing these days that we’re hearing statements from senators of both parties saying that the US and its allies must respond to Russia’s aggression in a way that’s decisive and devastating,” Zhou-Castro added.
Earlier this week, Washington announced an initial package of Western sanctions against Russian oligarchs, financial institutions and exports.
On Wednesday, it further stepped up pressure on Putin by imposing sanctions on the firm building the $11bn Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and its corporate officers, a move Biden had waived for months.
Germany on Tuesday froze approvals for the pipeline, which has been built but was not yet in operation, amid concerns it could allow Moscow to weaponise energy supplies to Europe.
Biden also said that Washington would coordinate with NATO allies “to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the alliance”.
The State Department said early on Thursday that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg and discussed the alliance’s coordinated response to Russia’s attack.