President Joe Biden responded Thursday afternoon to Russia's rapid full-scale invasion of Ukraine by announcing new sanctions against the warring nation. However, when pressed on what else he would do to confront Russia over its warmongering, the president suggested only that the U.S. wait "another month or so" to see if the sanctions "are working."
The lackluster response is sure to spark widespread criticism amongst the American people and allies around the world for not matching the urgency of the moment.
Biden delivered the remarks while speaking with reporters in the East Room of the White House Thursday in response to Russia's military invasion of Ukraine.
During the speech, Biden announced that the U.S. and its NATO allies would swiftly sanction more major Russian banks and impose export controls to curtail Russia's access to high tech as a way to punish the Kremlin for its "premeditated attack." He declared the new measures would be "devastating" for Russia by limiting the country's ability to do business "in dollars, pounds, euros, and yen."
But when a reporter noted that Putin had thus far been undeterred by sanctions and that Biden was in fact still withholding other sanctions at his disposal — such as removing Russia from SWIFT, a prominent international banking cooperative — Biden balked.
"Respectfully, sir, what more are you waiting for?" the reporter asked. In under 24 hours, Russia has reportedly destroyed 74 Ukrainian military installations and begun attacking civilian facilities en route to overthrowing the government in Kyiv.
Biden answered by alleging that his new sanctions are plenty powerful and suggested that before taking any more aggressive action against Russia, the U.S. should adopt a wait-and-see approach.
"Let's have a conversation in another month or so to see if they are working," he said of the current sanctions.
Other reporters pressed Biden on his refusal so far to personally sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin. In response, the president refused to answer why he hasn't taken such an approach, saying only that it remains "on the table."
At another time during the press conference, Biden acknowledged that sanctions were never expected to prevent Russia from attacking. But he said they may prove, in time, to sting Russia for their bad behavior.
Meanwhile, a senior U.S. defense official is reporting that Russia is advancing on Ukraine's capital with "every intention of basically decapitating the government and installing their own method of governance."
According to Ukraine, at least 40 troops and up to 10 civilians have been killed thus far in the assault. Many more casualties are expected.