News You Need to Know: 2022-02-22
Putin on the fritz
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Vladimir Putin gave a speech that alarmed international watchers.
Russia has recognized two breakaway regions of Eastern Ukraine as independent.
Russia has sent troops into those regions.
The United States responded with weaker sanctions than expected.
After a slight delay, Germany, the UK, and the EU are responding with sanctions.
Expect gas prices to climb fast.
The Russian stock market is in the toilet.
However, America is energy independent again.
Learn how to prepare for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Putin Speech
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech that made clear his intentions toward Ukraine. I encourage you to watch the speech for yourself or read the partial transcript from the Kremlin. It’s a speech that will be remembered for a long time.
Here are direct quotes from the speech, provided by Reuters:
“Those who embarked on the path of violence, bloodshed, lawlessness did not recognize and do not recognize any other solution to the Donbass issue, except for the military one. In this regard, I consider it necessary to take a long overdue decision to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic.”
Donetsk and Luhansk are two Russian-affiliated regions in the Donbas area of Eastern Ukraine. Soon after the speech, Putin sent a “peacekeeping” force into the Donbas.
Putin began with his view of Ukrainian history:
“Ukraine never had a tradition of genuine statehood.”
“Modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia, more precisely, Bolshevik, communist Russia.”
“From the very first steps [Ukraine] began to build their statehood on the denial of everything that unites us. They tried to distort the consciousness, the historical memory of millions of people, entire generations living in Ukraine.”
Putin then explained why he sees the United States and Ukraine as a threat:
“If Ukraine was to join NATO it would serve as a direct threat to the security of Russia.”
“Let me explain that U.S. strategic planning documents contain the possibility of a so-called preemptive strike against enemy missile systems. And who is the main enemy for the U.S. and NATO? We know that too. It's Russia. In NATO documents, our country is officially and directly declared the main threat to North Atlantic security. And Ukraine will serve as a forward springboard for the strike. If our ancestors had heard about it, they probably would simply not have believed it. And today we don't want to believe it, but it's true.”
“They are trying to blackmail us again. They are threatening us again with sanctions, which, by the way, I think they will introduce anyway as Russia's sovereignty strengthens and the power of our armed forces grows. And a pretext for another sanctions attack will always be found or fabricated.”
“Regardless of the situation in Ukraine. There is only one goal - to restrain the development of Russia. And they will do it, as they did before. Even without any formal pretext at all. Just because we exist, and we will never compromise our sovereignty, national interests and our values.”
“…when our proposals for an equal dialogue on fundamental issues have actually remained unanswered by the United States and NATO, when the level of threats to our country is increasing significantly, Russia has every right to take retaliatory measures to ensure its own security. That is exactly what we will do.”
Putin also accused Ukraine of developing nuclear weapons.
International Response to the Putin Speech
The Biden administration was quick to respond:
President Biden has issued, today, an executive order that will prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions. This EO will also provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine.
To be clear: These measures respond to Russia’s recognition gambit; they are not the swift and severe economic measures we have been preparing in coordination with Allies and partners should Russia further invade Ukraine. We are pleased with the historic coordination we have had with our Allies and partners on developing these measures and will continue to stay closely coordinated in the days ahead.
The Biden administration published a bullet-point list of what the sanctions do. It seems like Europe held up tougher sanctions.
However, since that tweet was sent, Germany has halted certification of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia, the United Kingdom is sanctioning Russian banks and oligarchs, and the European Union is planning sanctions later today.
The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting, during which the United States called Russia’s “peacekeeping” force in Ukraine “nonsense.” Russia is presiding over the Security Council this month, and tried to halt the meeting, but was overruled.
The United States hesitated to call Putin’s actions an “invasion” at first but is doing so now.
Consequences of the Putin Speech
And the US stock market isn’t doing great today.
I leave you with a bit of good news: The United States is, at the moment, energy independent again.