On Monday, the United States announced financial sanctions against rebel territories recognized by Russia in eastern Ukraine, and warned that more sanctions would be imposed, if necessary. Referring to the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden issued an executive order to “prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by US persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine.” Psaki added that the order will “provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine,” saying that the measures are separate to wider Western sanctions ready to go “should Russia further invade Ukraine.”
For weeks, the Kremlin has denied invasion plans, but has built up their troops and heavy weaponry on three sides of Ukraine. During Vladimir Putin’s speech on Monday, in which he declared recognition for independence of the two rebel areas, the chances of invasion seemed to increase. Putin charged Ukraine with being a Western puppet, a threat to Russian security, and claimed that people in the Russian-controlled separatist enclaves needed protection.
What remains in question is whether Russian troops will cross borders to defend the two entities and, if so, whether they will stop at the current frontline in fighting between the separatists and Ukraine’s government, or push further into Ukrainian territory. The extent of a Russian offensive would determine the level of Western sanctions.
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