President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that the United States is ready to respond to Russia’s actions with unity, clarity and conviction. The Democrat, speaking from the White House, announced ‘the first tranche of sanctions to impose costs on Russia in response to their actions’ in Ukraine. 

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Biden said that the US is going to judge Russia by its actions. Moscow on Monday had recognised seperatist regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities and deployed troops for ‘peacekeeping’. On Tuesday, the Russian upper house voted unanimously, allowing President Vladimir Putin to send army abroad, a move that could trigger an invasion in Ukraine. Russia also announced diplomatic ties with the rebel-led areas. 

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“When all is said and done we’re going to judge Russia by its actions, not its words. Whatever Russia does next, we’re ready to respond with unity, clarity and conviction. I’m hoping diplomacy is still available,” President Joe Biden said. 

One Ukrainian soldier died and at least six were wounded  in the Lugansk region as fears of a Russian invasion grow, AFP reported quoting a military spokesman. 

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Meanwhile, Putin laid out three conditions to end the crisis that has threatened to plunge Europe back into war. He said the crisis could be resolved if Kyiv recognizes Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, renounces its bid to join NATO and partially demilitarizes. The West has decried the annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law and has previously flatly rejected permanently barring Ukraine from NATO.

Announcing the new sanctions on Russia, Biden said that he will go far and beyong the steps ‘we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014’. 

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“And if Russia goes further with this invasion we stand prepared to go further as with sanctions,” he said, adding that Russian actions are in violation of international law. 

“Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belongs to his neighbors? This is a flagrant violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community,” Biden added.

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Joe Biden said he was also moving additional U.S. troops to the Baltic states on NATO’s eastern flank bordering Russia. The prime minster of Estonia and presidents of Latvia and Lithuania on Friday had made a direct plea to Vice President Kamala Harris for the U.S. to step up its presence in the Baltics.

With inputs from the Associated Press