U.S., OTHER WESTERN NATIONS IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA: The U.S. and other Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia Tuesday (February 22nd), one day after President Vladimir Putin declared two separatist regions of Ukraine to be independent and ordered troops to be sent in to them. Saying that Putin had begun a, quote, “invasion of Ukraine,” President Biden announced sanctions on banks and Russian officials close to Putin and their sons, saying the U.S. would impose “full blocking” of two large Russian financial institutions and comprehensive sanctions on Russian debt, stating, “That means we’ve cut of Russia’s government from Western finance.” He said even tougher sanctions would be imposed if Putin goes further with the invasion into Ukraine.
In a major action, Germany moved to stop certification of their new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia. The European Union announced sanctions targeting the legislators of Russia’s Duma who voted in favor of recognizing the two separatist regions, and 27 other Russian officials and institutions in the worlds of defense and banking, and sought to limit Russia’s access to E.U. capital and financial markets. The U.K. sanctioned five Russian banks and three wealthy Russian businessmen, and Australia and Japan also announced sanctions. As did Biden, the Western leaders said this is a first group of sanctions, and more would be coming if Russia continued with further aggression.
During his remarks from the White House, Biden also said he was moving additional U.S. troops to the Baltic nations in the eastern part of NATO, but emphasized that they were purely defensive, stating, “We have no intention of fighting Russia.” Biden additionally warned Americans that gas prices could rise due the crisis, saying, “Defending freedom will have cost for us as well, and here at home. We need to be honest about that.” But he said the administration was using every, quote, “tool at our disposal” to protect U.S. businesses and consumers from rising gas prices.
Biden on Putin: [“He’s setting up a rationale to take more territory by force, in my view. And if we listen to his speech last night, and many of you did, I know, he’s setting up a rationale to go much further. This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as he indicated and asked permission to be able to do from his Duma.”] SOUNDCUE (:19 OC . . . from his Duma.)
[“I’m gonna begin to impose sanctions in response far beyond the steps we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014. And if Russia goes further with this invasion, we stand prepared to go further as with sanctions.”] SOUNDCUE (:14 OC . . . as with sanctions.)
On Putin: [“He directly attacked Ukraine’s right to exist. He indirectly threatened territory formerly held by Russia, including nations that today are thriving democracies and members of NATO. He explicitly threatened war unless his extreme demands are met. And there’s no question that Russia is the aggressor.”] SOUNDCUE (:21 OC . . . is the aggressor.)
THREE DEFENDANTS CONVICTED IN FEDERAL HATE CRIMES TRIAL FOR ARBERY’S KILLING: The three men who were convicted in state court in Georgia of killing Ahmad Arbery in February 2020 as the Black 25-year-old jogged through their neighborhood were found guilty in their federal hate crimes trial yesterday (February 22nd), with jurors accepting the prosecution’s charge that the white defendants were driven by racism. Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, were also found guilty of attempted kidnapping, and the McMichaels were convicted of the use of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime. The defense had argued the men chased Arbery in their pickup trucks because they were suspicious of him after he’d gone into an house being built in the neighborhood several times on earlier runs through the neighborhood, and that Travis McMichael, who fired the shots that killed Arbery, acted in self-defense. In arguing the case for the hate crime charges, prosecutors showed text messages and social media posts in which the defendants used racist slurs and made derogatory comments about Black people.
JURORS SET TO BEGIN DELIBERATING IN GEORGE FLOYD CASE FEDERAL TRIAL: Jurors are set to begin deliberations today (February 23rd) in the federal trial of the three former Minneapolis police officers who were with former Officer Derek Chauvin when he kneeled on George Floyd‘s neck for more than nine minutes, leading to his death, in May 2020, after closing arguments were delivered yesterday. Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with “willfully” violating Floyd’s civil rights by depriving him of his right to medical care as Chauvin kneeled on his neck, and Kueng and Thao are also charged with failing to intervene to stop Chauvin. The defense has said the Minneapolis police department’s training was inadequate and there was a culture that emphasized deference to senior officers like Chauvin.
NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS APPROVED FOR D.C. TRAFFIC CONTROL AHEAD OF TRUCKER PROTESTS: The Pentagon yesterday (February 22nd) approved the deployment of 700 National Guard troops to Washington, D.C., to help with traffic control during expected trucker convoy protests over pandemic restrictions that are expected in and around the nation’s capital in the coming days. The deployment of the Guard troops, who will be unarmed and won’t take part in law enforcement activities, was made by the D.C. government and the U.S. Capitol Police. Separate convoys are planned modeled on the recent ones in Canada that lasted for weeks, snarling traffic and disrupting downtown Ottawa and blocking several bridge crossings to the U.S.
MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER IN SHOOTING ATTACK ON PROTESTERS THAT LEFT ONE DEAD: A 43-year-old Oregon man was charged with murder, attempted murder and assault Tuesday (February 22nd) after allegedly opening fire on protesters in Portland Saturday, killing a 60-year-old woman, Brandy Knightly, and injuring five others, one of whom was left paralyzed. Authorities said Benjamin Smith allegedly confronted people in a park protesting the police shooting of a Black man named Amir Locke in Minneapolis last month and told them to leave. After several of them asked Smith to leave them alone, he allegedly began firing at the crowd. An armed protester returned fire, hitting Smith, who is hospitalized in critical condition. A roommate of Smith, Kristine Christenson, told Oregon Public Broadcasting, “He talked about wanting to go shoot commies and antifa.”
CHECK IT OUT:
Biden speaking about Ukraine: