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Biden news - live: President speaks with Zelensky amid warnings Putin’s forces could storm Kyiv within hours

Follow the latest updates on President Joe Biden’s address to the nation about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Biden says that ‘Putin chose this war and he will pay’ as US ready to use ‘full force’

President Joe Biden has called Russian president Vladimir Putin an “aggressor” who “chose this war” as he announced a series of “major” sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine.

Mr Biden said the sanctions will have a “long-term” impact on Moscow as the US was restricting large Russian banks and targeting families who are close to the Kremlin.

Mr Biden’s address to the nation came after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning with a series of missile attacks on cities including the capital Kiev.

Since then, dozens of Ukrainians have been killed, civilians are fleeing their homes, global markets have plunged and Russian forces have seized the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

The United Nations meanwhile is expected to vote on a US-drafted resolution condemning Russia on Friday.

Though the resolution is likely to fail with Russia exercising its veto, US and its allies want to send the message that Russia stands isolated for its actions.

In addition, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley has also also had a phone conversation with allies in Europe today to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Mitch McConnell urges Biden to ‘ratchet up’ sanctions against Russia

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged president Joe Biden to “ratchet up” sanctions against Russian in the wake of its attack on Ukraine.

At a news conference today, Mr McConnell said he, along with Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, House majority leader Nancy Pelosi, and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, had been briefed by the president on the sanctions announced earlier in the day.

“My advice to the president, both publicly and privately, is ratchet the sanctions all the way up as far as you can,” McConnell was quoted as saying by the Bowling Green Daily News.

He added that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine may have been emboldened by the US withdrawal of Afghanistan last August.

He said that the US withdrawal was a message to the world’s autocrats that the US was “losing interest in playing a major role on the world stage.”

“I can tell you, in my opinion, Vladimir Putin wouldn’t be in Ukraine had we not precipitously left Afghanistan in August,” Mr McConnell said.

“The perception of weakness contributed to what we are experiencing now.”

(FILE) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to his office at the US Capitol

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Blinken 'convinced' Putin will try to overthrow Ukraine's government

Secretary of state Antony Blinken said he is convinced that Russian president Vladimir Putin will try to overthrow Ukraine’s government.

In an interview with ABC News presenter David Munir, shortly after the president’s address, Mr Blinken was asked: “You’re convinced Putin’s going to overthrow [Ukraine’s] government?”

He replied: “I’m convinced he’s going to try to do that.”

When asked if he knows who’s in control in the fighting that is underway at a military airbase in Kiev, Mr Blinken said he is not in a position to comment on what is going on.

However, he added that what is known is “part of the Russian plan has been to put Kiev in danger, to assault the capital to go after other major cities”.

“We are seeing forces come in from the north, east, from the south. And that’s all part of the Russian plan.”

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Biden says US is in ‘consultation' with India over Russia

President Joe Biden said today that his administration is “in consultation with India” on the issue of Ukraine and Russia, reported CNN.

The comments came in response to a question on whether India, a major US defence partner, was “fully in sync” with the United States, with Biden adding, “We haven’t resolved that completely.”

India is a major US defence partner and has a historic friendship with Russia.

Earlier on Thursday, secretary of state Antony Blinken held a phone conversation with India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

In the exchange, Mr Blinken stressed the importance of a “strong collective response” toward Russia's invasion of Ukraine, an official spokesperson said.

US President Joe Biden addresses the Russian invasion of Ukraine, from the East Room of the White House on February 24, 2022

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ICYMI: Highlights from Biden’s speech today

President Biden forcefully condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an address to the nation on Thursday afternoon, where he announced strong sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime.

“Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Mr Biden said from the White House.

“For weeks, we have been warning that this would happen, and now, it’s unfolding largely as we predicted.

“We have purposefully designed these sanctions to maximize the long-term impact on Russia and to minimize the impact on the United States and our allies.”

Read a recap of the speech from The Independent’s Eric Garcia:

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VOICES: Biden doesn’t have a lot of good options

President Biden doesn’t have a lot of good options for handling Vladimir Putin, The Independent’s Andrew Buncombe writes in a new column.

“Long ago, he ruled out sending US troops to help defend Ukraine. There is little appetite for such an intervention among the American public, and Biden was elected having promised to withdraw the country from foreign wars, not start new ones.

“As he told NBC News in an interview shortly before the Super Bowl, it would not do anyone any good to have US troops anywhere near Russian forces. Russia has around 6,250 nuclear weapons, while the US has 5,600.

“He was asked in what circumstances might be send troops to rescue trapped Americans. “There’s not [one],” he said. “That’s a world war — when Americans and Russians start shooting at one another, we’re in a very different world than we’ve ever been in.”

“All of this is wise and smart. But having so loudly ruled out the deployment of US troops — often leaders like to claim “all options” are on the table — it meant the avenues of leverage available to the president were relatively few.”

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What are the US sanctions meant to deter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

President Joe Biden announced his most severe measures yet aimed at the Russian Federation and its leaders, but many Americans remain unclear as to how the US government is specifically working to deter Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Sanctions are typically some of the hardest-to-describe economic measures, as they are often focused on specific persons and entities who themselves do not make the same headlines as world leaders whose actions are often the motivation behind the measures.

Here’s our explainer on what the US announced today:

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Bush and Obama back Biden

Two former presidents have issued harsh condemnations of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine - days after a third branded the dictator a “genius”.

George W Bush and Barack Obama released statements on Thursday, hours after Russia began its attack on multiple targets within Ukrainian territory, including its capital city.

In his statement, which followed a strong speech on the issue by his former vice president Joe Biden, Mr Obama accused Russia of launching “a brazen attack on the people of Ukraine, in violation of international law and basic principles of human decency”.

He continued: “People of conscience around the world need to loudly and clearly condemn Russia’s actions and offer support for the Ukrainian people.

“And every American, regardless of party, should support President Biden’s efforts, in coordination with our closest allies, to impose hard-hitting sanctions on Russia - sanctions that impose a real price on Russia’s autocratic elites.”

In a statement prior to Mr Biden’s remarks, Mr Bush called the attack “the gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II” and said people must “stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as they seek freedom and the right to choose their own future”.

“I join the international community in condemning Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” said Mr Bush. “We cannot tolerate the authoritarian bullying and danger that Putin poses.”

The former leaders’ statements, particularly their words about Mr Putin, were markedly different than the remarks Mr Trump made earlier this week. The Independent’s Megan Sheets reports:

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How many US troops could help Ukraine and where are they stationed?

President Biden is reportedly considering moving American troops in Europe further east in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after insisting the US military would not directly enter the conflict.

A senior US official disclosed the alleged considerations to CNN on Thursday morning as Mr Biden convened a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss developments in the crisis.

The US currently has roughly 90,000 troops on the continent, with Mr Biden steadily increasing the concentration in Eastern Europe in recent weeks as Russia ramped up its presence at the Ukrainian border.

The Independent’s Megan Sheets explains where the troops are station as of right now:

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Biden promises to ‘limit the pain’ on gas prices

President Biden acknowledged a wave of incoming turbulence for US gas prices and potentially other areas of the economy on Thursday but vowed that his administration would do “everything” it could to minimise the effects felt by Americans.

He made the remarks during a short national address and subsequent q&a session with reporters at the White House, his first address of the type since Russian forces invaded Ukraine late on Wednesday night.

“I will do everything in my power to limit the pain that the American people are feeling at the gas pump,” declared the president.

Gas prices around the nation were already reacting to news of the invasion on Thursday. The average price of standard gas in the US rose eight cents on the dollar overnight, according to AAA, and rose by 9 cents for mid-grade fuel.

The Independent’s John Bowden reports:

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Biden approval rating hangs in the balance

Ratings released earlier this week - prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine - showed more than half of Americans’ weren’t satisfied with Mr Biden’s handling of the crisis.

In a Gallup poll published on Monday, just over a third of Americans said they approved of the White House’s response so far to the Russian aggression towards Ukraine which culminated late Wednesday night in a full-scale invasion of the eastern European nation.

Thirty-six per cent of Americans said that Joe Biden was doing an OK job handling “the situation with Russia”, a number which could slip further in the coming days now that it is clear that Mr Biden and other western leaders failed to dissuade Vladimir Putin from invasion.

Fifty-five per cent disapprove of the president’s handling of Ukraine, and according to the Gallup poll the president’s overall approval rating among Democrats is now at nearly the lowest point of his presidency so far; it currently sits at 79 per cent, down 3 points in a month.

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