(The Hill) – The Biden administration will sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top officials in Moscow in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Friday.
The move follows an announcement from the European Union earlier in the day that it would sanction Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov directly for the country’s attack on neighboring Ukraine.
Prior to the announcement, President Biden spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Psaki said. Biden a day earlier didn’t rule out sanctioning Putin directly, but would not say whether he would pursue such a step.
“The president’s strong view and strong principle from the beginning of this conflict… has been to take action in steps in alignment with our European partners and this is evidence of that,” Psaki said when asked what changed.
Sanctioning a world leader directly is a rare step that comes days after Putin authorized military attacks on Ukraine. Russian military forces have moved closer to the capital of Kyiv, and U.S. officials have warned Russia may attempt to decapitate the Ukrainian government and replace it with pro-Russian leaders.
The Biden administration has rolled out phased sanctions in recent days in response to the attacks on Ukraine. Biden announced Tuesday sanctions on multiple Russian financial institutions and Russian oligarchs.
The president on Thursday hit two of Russia’s biggest banks with sanctions, said the U.S. would limit exports of certain goods to Russia, and froze the assets of additional Russian oligarchs.
The administration has said sanctions announced alongside European allies are meant to project a unified front and cripple the Russian economy over time to make the invasion of Ukraine untenable.