WASHINGTON, DC (WRIC/AP) — President Joe Biden addressed the crisis in Ukraine in a speech Tuesday afternoon amid escalating tensions with Russia.
The White House is calling Russia’s troop deployments in eastern Ukraine an “invasion” after initially being hesitant to use the term. Around the world, leaders condemned Putin and prepared to hit his administration with sanctions.
“We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia’s latest invasion into Ukraine,” said Jon Finer, principal deputy national security adviser. He said “latest” was important. “An invasion is an invasion and that is what is under way.”
The Biden administration resisted initially calling the deployment of troops an invasion because the White House wanted to see what Russia was actually going to do, but that changed after assessing Russian troop movements, said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Russian lawmakers on Tuesday authorized President Vladimir Putin to use military force outside the country — a move that could presage a broader attack on Ukraine.
Several European leaders said Russian troops rolled into rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine after Putin recognized their independence. But it was unclear how large the deployment was, and Ukraine and its Western allies have long said Russian troops were fighting in the region, allegations that Moscow always denied.
Members of Russia’s upper house, the Federation Council, voted unanimously to allow Putin to use military force outside the country — effectively formalizing a Russian military deployment to the rebel regions, where an eight-year conflict has killed nearly 14,000 people.
Shortly after, Putin laid out three conditions to end the crisis that has threatened to plunge Europe back into war, raising the specter of massive casualties, energy shortages across the continent and economic chaos around the globe.
He called for international recognition of Crimea as part of Russia, an end to Ukraine’s NATO membership bid and a halt to weapons shipments there. The West has decried Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law and has previously flatly rejected permanently barring Ukraine from the NATO alliance.
The AP contributed to this report.