Biden to address nation as Russia invades Ukraine – US politics live – The Guardian

As we await Joe Biden’s remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the secretary-general of the United Nations has weighed in on the crisis.

António Guterres reiterated that Vladimir Putin’s military actions in Ukraine directly violate the UN charter, which prohibits members from using force to threaten the territorial integrity or political independence of another country.

CSPAN (@cspan)

.@UN Secretary-General @antonioguterres on Russian Invasion of Ukraine “It is wrong. It is against the Charter. It is unacceptable, but it is not irreversible…It’s not too late to save this generation from the scourge of war. We need peace.” pic.twitter.com/c2s8oaEQtU

February 24, 2022

“It is wrong. It is against the charter. It is unacceptable, but it is not irreversible,” Guterres said, repeating his plea to Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukraine.

“The decisions of the coming days will shape our world,” Guterres added. “It’s not too late to save this generation from the scourge of war. We need peace.”

Chris Michael

My colleague Leyland Cecco is talking to the huge Ukrainian diaspora community in Canada.

I have a knot in my stomach. I can only imagine what it’s like for people in Ukraine who are living with the shelling,” said Taras Kulish, a Toronto-based charity lawyer and member of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress and Ukrainian Canadian Social Services. “We’re all concerned and there’s a definitely a shock factor in processing it.”

A number of organizations across Canada are quickly raising funds for relief projects. Kulish, who works closely with humanitarian organizations in Ukraine, says colleagues on the ground have described the surreal experience of shelling near their homes and the constant worry of loved ones:

I’ve been checking in with colleagues telling them we’re here. We’re praying for you. We’re looking to see what we can do in response. We’re trying to give them that knowledge that people are concerned about them and who love them. But you can’t imagine what it’s like. It’s almost unfathomable.”

He adds that since 2014 he has worked for trauma therapy clinics in the country’s eastern region. “We’ve been living this for the last seven years, so in one way, we’re terribly prepared for it.”

Cecco adds:

In addition to solidarity rallies across Canada condemning the invasion by Russia, the prairie province of Alberta announced it would donate C$1m to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, a recognition of the large diaspora population in the region – and the long history Ukrainian residents have farming the area.

Updated

Chris Michael

Is Putin unwell?

My colleagues Julian Borger in Washington and Angelique Chrisafis in Paris have reported on new questions being raised about the mental status of the leader of a country with 6,000 nuclear warheads.

His decision to voluntarily start a land war, and the “sheer weirdness” of his recent public appearances, has worried leaders and Russia watchers in western capitals, they say:

They worry about a 70 year-old man whose tendency towards insularity has been amplified by his precautions against Covid, leaving him surrounded by an ever-shrinking coterie of fearful obedient courtiers. He appears increasingly uncoupled from the contemporary world, preferring to burrow deep into history and a personal quest for greatness.

The French president Emmanuel Macron is well-placed to analyse changes to Putin’s demeanour. Macron once drove a cooperative, if self-conscious, Putin round the gardens of the palace of Versailles in a tiny electric golf cart in the summer of 2017 and welcomed him to his holiday residence at a fortress on the Mediterranean coast the following summer, where Putin descended from a helicopter carrying a bunch of flowers and complemented the Macrons on their tans.

After Macron held five hours of talks with the Russian leader in Moscow at opposite ends of a 15-metre table, he told reporters on the return flight that “the tension was palpable”. This was not the same Putin he had last met at the Elysée palace in December 2019, Macron said. He was “more rigid, more isolated” and was off on an “ideological and security drift”.

Following Putin’s speech on Monday, an Elysée official made an unusually bold assessment that the speech was “paranoid”. Bernard Guetta, a member of the European parliament for Macron’s grouping, told France Inter radio on Thursday morning, after military invasion began: “I think this man is losing his sense of reality, to say it politely.” Asked by the interviewer if that meant he thought Putin had gone mad, he said “yes”.

Stay tuned for their full report.

Chris Michael

Bernie Sanders has responded to the recent praise of Vladimir Putin’s naked aggression toward Ukraine expressed by a former US president.

Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders)

It is outrageous, if unsurprising, that Trump would praise Putin’s murderous invasion of Ukraine as an act of “genius.” It should concern us all that Putin is exactly the kind of leader Trump would like to be, and that so few Republicans have the courage to say this out loud.

February 24, 2022

The Democratic senator said:

It is outrageous, if unsurprising, that Trump would praise Putin’s murderous invasion of Ukraine as an act of “genius.” It should concern us all that Putin is exactly the kind of leader Trump would like to be, and that so few Republicans have the courage to say this out loud.

The former president in question had described the supposed “peacekeeping force” entering eastern Ukraine as “the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen”, adding: “There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right.”

He had also become confused on the Laura Ingraham show last night, appearing to believe that US troops were landing in Ukraine (rather than Russian ones) – and saying he thought that that news should be kept secret.

Updated

Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, said after a National Security Council briefing on Capitol Hill that he wanted to see the US remove Russia from the SWIFT international banking system in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia has begun an unprovoked, unjustified and brutal campaign against Ukraine,” Schiff said. “We must provide Ukraine with support to defend itself. We are also going to need to dramatically escalate the sanctions we place on Russia for this act of naked aggression.”

The chairman of the House intelligence committee said he believed the US needed to cut off Russia from the international banking system and its ability to access western capital, its ability to gather technology for weapons systems, and sanction the country’s oligarchs.

Schiff said the US needed to take additional steps to end Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas to prevent Putin from using energy as a geopolitical weapon. He added that Russia’s attack on Ukraine “ought to spell, at a minimum, the final death of Nord Stream 2.”

The unclassified NSC briefing that took place shortly before midday on Thursday indicated that Russia had the military capability to overwhelm Ukraine’s forces, Schiff told reporters, and that he anticipated Russia would very quickly overrun the country.

Schiff said that NSC officials were concerned about the possibility of a Russian cyber attack against not only Ukraine, but US and NATO allies. He added that he had not seen evidence of a cyber attack directed at the US, but noted it was still early in the conflict.

Chris Michael

NBC reports that Joe Biden has been given various options for American cyberattacks to disrupt Russia’s military action in Ukraine. According to the news network:

Two US intelligence officials, one Western intelligence official and another person briefed on the matter say no final decisions have been made, but they say U.S. intelligence and military cyber warriors are proposing the use of American cyber weapons on a scale never before contemplated. Among the options: Disrupting internet connectivity across Russia, shutting off electric power, and tampering with railroad switches to hamper Russia’s ability to re-supply its forces, three of the sources said.

“You could do everything from slow the trains down to have them fall off the tracks,” one person briefed on the matter said.

A cyberattack would be something of a turning point for the US, given its cyber efforts have prioritised counterterrorism – mainly information and intelligence gathering – though it did also attack the Iranian nuclear program a little over a decade ago.

Russia and China have used much more extensive cyberattacks against American infrastructure, however, and experts say the US has been quietly preparing to fight fire with fire.

Chris Michael

The White House has released a statement from Joe Biden saying the G7 leaders have agreed to move forward on “devastating packages of sanctions”.

President Biden (@POTUS)

This morning, I met with my G7 counterparts to discuss President Putin’s unjustified attack on Ukraine and we agreed to move forward on devastating packages of sanctions and other economic measures to hold Russia to account. We stand with the brave people of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/dzvYxj7J9w

February 24, 2022

The tweeted statement from the president said:

This morning, I met with my G7 counterparts to discuss President Putin’s unjustified attack on Ukraine and we agreed to move forward on devastating packages of sanctions and other economic measures to hold Russia to account. We stand with the brave people of Ukraine.

Biden will be delivering an address to the American people from the White House in less than an hour, at 1:30pm ET.

McConnell: withdrawal from Afghanistan was an invitation to autocrats to make a move

Chris Michael

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on the Ukraine invasion with some criticism for Joe Biden.

Gladys Bautista WLKY 🏁 (@GladysMBautista)

#NOW: @LeaderMcConnell on Russian invasion of Ukraine: Make sanctions as significant as possible @WLKY pic.twitter.com/IkmnVqJa3s

February 24, 2022

“What we have in Europe now is the first shooting war since world war 2,” the Republican from Kentucky said, continuing:

“I have earlier criticised the president and I will repeat some of that. I think the precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan in August was a signal, to Putin and maybe to Chinese president Xi as well, that America was in retreat – that America could not be depended upon – and was an invitation to the autocrats of the world that maybe this was a good time to make a move.”

Despite his words, McConnell nevertheless claimed to be united with Biden in response.

“We are where we are. The president will be addressing this issue again shortly. We’re all together at this point and we need to be together about what should be done.

“But I have some advice. Ratchet the sanctions all the way up, don’t hold any back. Every single available tough sanction should be employed and should be employed now. There’s no such thing as a little invasion.”

Updated

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden will deliver a national address on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in about an hour. The US president’s speech comes as Russian forces launched a fuller-scale invasion of Ukraine, attacking major cities, including the capital of Kyiv.
  • Biden held a virtual meeting with other G7 leaders this morning to discuss the invasion. The president also met with his National Security Council in the Situation Room to assess the Russian attack and outline potential responses to the invasion.
  • The House intelligence committee chairman is calling for tougher US sanctions against Russia in response to the latest developments. Two days after Biden announced the first tranche of sanctions against Russia, Democrat Adam Schiff called on the US to sanction the largest Russian banks and cut off the country from the international financing system to deprive it of access to Western capital.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Schedule update: Joe Biden’s speech on the Russian invasion of Ukraine is now expected to start at 1.30pm ET, instead of 12.30pm ET, so it will get underway in about an hour.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is also scheduled to hold a briefing with reporters at 3pm ET and will take questions about the likely escalation of US sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion.

Stay tuned.

Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the US, delivered a defiant message on behalf of her country in response to the Russian invasion.

“Ukraine has activated our right to self-defense in accordance with international law,” Markarova told reporters at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington.

“The combat spirit of Ukrainian military is high. We are fighting, we will be fighting — not only our brave and motivated military but all Ukrainians. We are protecting our home, and we will not stop.”

The Recount (@therecount)

“The combat spirit of Ukrainian military is high … We are protecting our home, and we will not stop.”

— Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova announces that Ukraine has activated their right to self defense pic.twitter.com/3DqxFeWMM7

February 24, 2022

House intelligence chairman calls for tougher sanctions against Russia

Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, said US sanctions on Russia need to be “dramatically” escalated in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia has begun an unprovoked, unjustified campaign against Ukraine with a full-on invasion,” Schiff told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“Civilians are being killed. Ukraine is mobilizing its opposition to the Russian invasion, and we must provide Ukraine with support to defend itself.”

ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics)

NEW: Rep. Adam Schiff says sanctions need to be “dramatically” escalated in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine, including sanctioning Russia’s largest banks, cutting off Russia’s access to financial systems, and targeting oligarchs. https://t.co/jAHxHy8kA4 pic.twitter.com/rf7jpi80DG

February 24, 2022

Attacking Vladimir Putin as a “Kremlin dictator,” Schiff called on the US to sanction the largest Russian banks and cut off Russia from the international financing system, depriving the country of access to Western capital.

“We need to attack its ability to gather sophisticated technology for its weapons systems,” Schiff said. “We have to go after more of its oligarchs, and we need to continue to strengthen our Nato defenses in the region to protect our Nato allies.”

Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver a speech on the invasion in about 30 minutes, and he is expected to outline tougher sanctions against Russia. Stay tuned.

Updated

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina, said he just spoke to Wendy Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, about the US response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Graham, who criticized Joe Biden’s first tranche of sanctions against Russia as insufficient, told Sherman there is “broad bipartisan support for an emergency supplemental to include aid to the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian military”.

Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC)

Just spoke with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman about the Biden Administration’s plans to push back against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

February 24, 2022

“It is important Congress unite to punish and crush Putin and his cronies. Not only will this help prevent further damage in Europe, but it will discourage other bad actors from going down the same road,” Graham said on Twitter.

“If we do not treat Putin and his cronies as the war criminals they are, we will be making a huge mistake and sending the wrong message to other bad actors around the world.”

Marco Rubio, the Republican vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, has been sending tweets about Vladimir Putin’s expected strategy in Ukraine.

Rubio said that Russian forces plan to encircle the capital city of Kyiv, forcing the legitimate Ukrainian government to flee, and then install a pro-Putin puppet government in its place.

Airstrikes are expected to be a crucial part of that plan, and Russia may begin to follow through on that strategy “within a matter of hours,” Rubio said.

Marco Rubio (@marcorubio)

#Russia plans to encircle #Kyiv, force the legitimate govt of #Ukraine to flee & install “Vichy Ukranian”puppets

Key to this plan is a large #Russian Airborne Forces operation

We may see an attempt to execute on that operation within a matter of hours #UkraineRussiaConflict

February 24, 2022

The White House has shared a photo of Joe Biden’s meeting with his National Security Council in the Situation Room this morning to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Biden’s meeting with his national security team came just before the president participated in a virtual discussion about the invasion with other G7 leaders.

The US president is scheduled to deliver a national address about the invasion in about an hour, so stay tuned.

The White House (@WhiteHouse)

Earlier this morning, President Biden convened a meeting of the National Security Council in the White House Situation Room to discuss the unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/QcZ5N2fcAa

February 24, 2022

Joe Biden’s virtual meeting with other G7 leaders to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine concluded after an hour and 10 minutes, the White House said.

The leaders who participated in the meeting were German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The White House will likely soon release a readout of the meeting, so stay tuned.