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Biden Unveils New Sanctions Against Russia After Its 'Brutal Assault' on Ukraine

The president says Putin's aggression will cost Russia dearly.

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Carrie Mihalcik, Marcos Cabello
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Ukrainian military vehicles move past Independence Square in central Kyiv on Feb. 24.

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US President Joe Biden on Thursday condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and announced new economic sanctions and export limits against Russia. 

"The Russian military has begun a brutal assault on the people of Ukraine without provocation, without justification, without necessity," Biden said during remarks at the White House. Russian President Vladimir Putin "chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences."

Biden said the new sanctions will cut off major Russian banks and businesses from western financial markets and restrict the export of technology to Russia, a move the president said strikes at the country's military and aerospace industries. 

Biden stressed that NATO allies and other international leaders are working together to impose severe costs. 

"We have purposely designed these sanctions to maximize the long-term impact on Russia and to minimize the impact on the United States and our allies," Biden said. "I want to be clear, the United States is not doing this alone. For months, we've been building a coalition of partners representing well more than half the global economy."

The US sanctions will also extend to a list of Russian elites and their families who personally gain from the Kremlin's policies. "They should share the pain," Biden said.

Tensions had been building for months, marked by angry speeches by Putin and the buildup of Russian forces along Ukraine's borders. Leaders in Washington and across Europe engaged in diplomatic efforts, but a peaceful resolution wasn't reached. 

Ukraine, which had been part of the Russian-led Soviet Union for much of the 20th century, declared its independence in 1991. Since then, the country has been establishing closer ties with Western European nations and the US.

Putin declared the start of a "special military operation" in Ukraine early Thursday. Shortly after, explosions were reported in multiple cities, including Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, and Kyiv, the country's capital, which is home to nearly 3 million people.

On Thursday, Ukrainian officials also said Russian forces seized the Chernobyl nuclear power site, according to the Associated Press. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia's actions are a "declaration of war" against the whole of Europe.

Biden on Thursday accused Putin of wanting to reestablish the former Soviet Union, saying the conflict is "about naked aggression, about Putin's desire for empire by any means necessary."

The new sanctions build on economic penalties Biden announced earlier in the week aimed at Russian banks, including the country's military bank, as well as at its sovereign debt and Russian elites and their family members. They were imposed in response to Putin on Monday recognizing two Russia-backed regions in eastern Ukraine -- Donetsk and Luhansk -- as independent entities, which Biden said was a flagrant violation of international law.