Biden meets with G7, addresses US on response to Russia

US President Joe Biden says he will announce measures against Russia from the White House on Thursday

US President Joe Biden says he will announce measures against Russia from the White House. AFP/Brendan Smialowski

WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden met with G7 allies to hammer out a raft of new sanctions against Russia after it invaded Ukraine, and was shortly to speak to the American people on a crisis that he warns will cause "catastrophic loss of life."

After a virtual, closed-door meeting which lasted an hour and 10 minutes, the group of rich Western democracies -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States -- said in a joint statement that Russia posed "a serious threat to the rules-based international order." 

It said the seven industrial powers were "ready to act" to minimize disruptions to world energy markets as a result of Moscow's assault on Ukraine and with sanctions already targeting a major pipeline from heavyweight energy producer Russia.

READ: SA tells Russia to withdraw from Ukraine 'immediately'

Before the G7 gathering, Biden first huddled with his National Security Council in the Situation Room, the White House said. 

For weeks, as Russia built up tens of thousands of troops and heavy weapons on Ukraine's border, Biden has led NATO and other European allies in trying to craft a package of what Washington says are "unprecedented" sanctions as a deterrent.

Now that the deterrent has failed, the goal is to "hold Russia accountable," Biden said in his first comments late Wednesday in Washington, after Russian missiles began to rain down. Biden said US allies would "respond in a united and decisive way."

READ: World stocks plunge, oil tops $105 as Russia invades Ukraine

Biden also held a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, saying afterwards that he had promised to "provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people."

A first round of Western sanctions was unleashed on Tuesday after Putin announced he would send troops as "peacekeepers" to two small areas already controlled by Moscow-backed separatists. 

The US government joined European allies in imposing sanctions on two Russian banks, Moscow's sovereign debt, several oligarchs and other measures.

READ: Biden says 'world will hold Russia accountable' over Ukraine attack

On Wednesday, as the Russian invasion force became clearly primed to attack, Biden announced he was imposing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany -- one of Moscow's highest-profile geopolitical projects.

Germany had earlier announced it would block the pipeline from opening for deliveries.

Now, US officials are teeing up tougher new sanctions that could include targeting bigger banks, more oligarchs close to Putin and, crucially, a ban on exports to Russia of high-tech equipment and components. 

It was not clear how many of these measures would be announced Thursday.


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