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Biden condemns Russia's attack on Ukraine which he called unprovoked

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

President Biden called Russia's attack against Ukraine a needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security. The president also said that the world will hold Russia accountable, but what form will that accountability take? Here's U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield during last night's emergency U.N. Security Council meeting.

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LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Russia's attack on Ukraine is tantamount to an attack on the U.N. and every member state in the chamber tonight.

MARTINEZ: President Biden is expected to address the American people later today. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez is here. Franco, first response from the White House is a rhetorical one. So tell us more about what President Biden said in his statement last night.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Yeah, President Biden denounced the attack, which he called unprovoked and unjustified. In a statement, he said it was a premeditated war. As you noted, he said, the world will hold Russia accountable. And Biden spoke last night as well to Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, about the next steps that the West would take in response. He was already going to meet today with G-7 leaders virtually about the crisis, and he says he'll now also make a public address this afternoon to announce further consequences that the U.S. and allies will impose on Russia.

MARTINEZ: President Biden has insisted that U.S. troops are not going into Ukraine, even though the Pentagon has now moved even more U.S. forces into Eastern Europe. Short of a military response, Franco, it's going to be sanctions, right? That's what we're looking at.

ORDOÑEZ: That's what we're looking at. The president has already announced what the White House describes as the first tranche of sanctions, and those included sanctions against two major Russian financial institutions, along with the government's ability to access Western financing; also sanctions imposed against the Russian-owned company that is building the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, but Biden warned that that was just the start. The administration has been telegraphing what could come next, and that includes targeting more Russian elites, more Russian banks and export controls, which would basically be cutting Russia off from some critical technology, like semiconductors. The administration and bipartisan members of Congress have also been talking about providing more assistance to Ukraine and allies and partners.

MARTINEZ: And, you know, when you think about it, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has, in a lot of ways, unfolded just as the Biden administration laid out.

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, it does follow very closely to the outline of an invasion described by Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week at the United Nations, you know, and the White House was questioned about that and asked for more proof. Putin accused the West of fearmongering, you know, would say that there was nothing to see there, but it has all proven to be true. The White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, was tweeting last night and retweeted a commentator who said, basically, I wish the intelligence were wrong, but they called it right this time.

MARTINEZ: That's NPR's Franco Ordoñez. Franco, thanks a lot.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.