Russia Has Launched ‘Beginning of an Invasion’ in Ukraine

  • A senior White House official said Russia’s actions toward Ukraine mark the “beginning of an invasion.”
  • The Biden administration was previously reluctant to call it an invasion.
  • The White House signaled more sanctions would be announced later on Tuesday.

The White House on Tuesday said that Russia’s military actions constitute the onset of an invasion, after initially stopping short of using such terminology.

“We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia’s latest invasion into Ukraine,” deputy national security advisor Jon Finer told CNN. He was referring to Russia moving so-called “peacekeepers” into separatist territories in eastern Ukraine that the Kremlin recognized as independent on Monday.

“I think ‘latest’ is important here,” Finer said. “An invasion is an invasion, and that is what is underway. But Russia has been invading Ukraine since 2014.”

“I don’t know how much more clear I can be,” he added. “This is the beginning of an invasion.”

Another Biden administration official featuring the situation differently on Monday. “Russian troops moving into Donbas would not itself be a new step. Russia has had forces in the Donbas for the past eight years,” an unnamed senior administration official told reporters, per Politico.

Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and annexed Crimea, and has since supported rebels in the eastern Donbas region in a war that’s claimed over 13,000 lives.

Moscow recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk — two rebel territories it’s been backing for eight years — as independent states on Monday. Subsequently, the Kremlin announced troops would be sent into the territories, which are located in the Donbas region. Russia has had a military presence in the Donbas since 2014, but has consistently denied it despite solid evidence to the contrary.

Map of Ukraine pointing to Donetsk and Luhansk

Map of Ukraine pointing to Donetsk and Luhansk, the two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine recognized by Russia as independent states.

Shayanne Gal/Insider

The Biden administration on Monday announced new sanctions against Russia for recognizing the breakaway territories as independent. The sanctions prohibit new US investment in the territories and ban imports and exports from the regions. In response to the latest moves from Russia, Germany also scrapped the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The White House applauded Berlin over the decision.

The US previously announced Russia it would face swift and severe sanctions if any of its troops Ukraine, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether Moscow’s decisions on Monday would trigger this response.

Finer on Tuesday signaled that additional sanctions would be announced later in the day. President Joe Biden is set to make remarks on Ukraine at 2 pm ET, CNN reported.

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