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Washington: US President Joe Biden on Monday signed an executive order blocking trade and investment in parts of Ukraine that have been recognised as independent by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The White House, which described the Russian actions as blatant violation of Moscow’s international commitments, said that economic sanctions are in the pipeline.

The move came as Putin escalated the Ukrainian crisis by recognising two Russian separatist-held regions in Ukraine as independent.

We have anticipated a move like this from Russia and are ready to respond immediately, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

The Executive Order signed by Biden prohibits new investment, trade and financing by US persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine, she said.

The executive order also provides authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine.

To be clear: these measures are separate from and would be in addition to the swift and severe economic measures we have been preparing in coordination with allies and partners should Russia further invade Ukraine, she said, adding that the US is continuing to closely consult with allies and partners, including Ukraine, on next steps and on Russia’s ongoing escalation along the border with Ukraine.

Biden on Monday spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about Russia’s ongoing escalation along the borders of Ukraine.

The leaders strongly condemned President Putin’s decision to recognise the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine as independent. They discussed how they will continue to coordinate their response on next steps, the White House said.

Soon thereafter, Biden also spoke with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Biden strongly condemned Russian President Putin’s decision to purportedly recognise the independence of the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine. He updated President Zelenskyy on the United States’ response, including our plan to issue sanctions, the White House said.

Biden reiterated that the United States would respond swiftly and decisively, in lock-step with its allies and partners, to further Russian aggression against Ukraine, it added.

In a joint statement, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul and House Armed Services Committee Lead Republican Mike Rogers demanded that the US must immediately impose real costs for this blatant act of aggression and flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Unfortunately, the sanctions previewed by the White House thus far are the definition of impotence. With reports that Putin is now sending troops into the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk under the guise of peacekeepers,’ now is not the time for symbolic pinpricks that will serve only to embolden Putin and endanger our friends in Ukraine, they said.

Now is the time for President Biden to impose sanctions that strike at the heart of the Russian economy, and permanently end Nord Stream 2 once and for all, as he promised the world he would do, the two Republicans said.

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