US President Joe Biden has revealed that he cannot rule out imposing direct personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin if Moscow decides to invade Ukraine.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Biden said he “could see” targeted, personal measures against the Russian leader being a possibility. His comments come as Western leaders begin to make preparations to impose a wide range of sanctions against Moscow, with the aim of deterring Russia from attacking Ukraine. Thus far, suggested ideas include banning the import of certain goods and imposing severe restrictions against Russian banks.
The idea of personally targeting Putin was initially proposed earlier this month by a group of US senators from Biden’s Democratic Party, led by Robert Menendez. The bill pushed by politicians also targeted other senior Russian officials, like Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, as well as measures aimed at crippling the economy. This is the first time, however, that Biden himself has admitted that Putin is a possible target.
At the same time, the US president also noted that 8,500 American troops had been put on high alert, noting that there could be some American military movement in Eastern Europe in the “nearer term” to protect the country’s NATO allies in case of spillover effects from the Ukraine crisis.
Western news publications and leaders have accused Russia of placing 100,000 troops on the border, with some claiming that the Kremlin is planning an attack in the near future. Moscow has repeatedly denied all suggestions of a possible invasion.
Despite Russian reassurances that it poses no threat, the US, the EU, and the UK have all stepped up military preparations, with some countries sending hardware and manpower to Ukraine.