Key points from Joe Biden’s Ukraine update
The Independent

Republicans have a bizarre new criticism of US President Joe Biden.

Apparently, the way he walks shows “weakness”.

Biden last night delivered a press conference on the situation in Ukraine, and announced the “first tranche” of sanctions, warning he would “escalate sanctions if Russia escalates”.

The official Twitter account for the Republican Conference in the United States House of Representatives tweeted: “This is what weakness on the world stage looks like.”

Other Republicans, including Jake Schneider, also took aim at the president.

But the clip they’re criticising (which can be seen for yourself by navigating to 9:22 inThe Independent’s live stream of Biden’s speech) doesn’t show anything out of the ordinary.

It simply shows Biden walking away from the lectern. Wild, we know.

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Vox correspondent Ian Millhiser poked fun at the criticism, quipping: “George Washington, the father of our country, would only exit rooms by doing cartwheels. Abraham Lincoln would hop on one leg. Ronald Reagan would skip out the door. Now those men were leaders!”

Others also defended Biden against the bizarre criticism.

Award-winning journalist Carl Bernstein said: “As opposed to the Putin–Trump alliance?”

Republican Adam Kinzinger also slammed the “awful tweet”.

Beyond opinions people had about how Biden exited the room, the important part is what happened during the press conference when the president announced a raft of sanctions.

The sanctions will hit two large Russian financial institutions, V.E.B. – formerly known as Vnesheconombank – and the country’s “military bank”.

He said sanctions against Russian sovereign debt would “cut off Russia's government from Western financing”, meaning Moscow can no longer raise money in the west and won’t be able to trade new debt in US or European markets.

The US is also imposing sanctions on “Russia’s elites and their family members”. Biden said: “They share in the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well.”

He also said they would back Germany in blocking the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.

The escalation comes as Putin recognised the rebel-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas as independent states.

Biden said: “Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors? This is a flagrant violation of international law, and it demands a firm response from the international community.”

Despite fears of further escalation, Biden said “there is still time to avert the worst-case scenario” and avoid “untold suffering to millions of people”.

He said the US and their allies remain open to diplomacy “if it is serious” and added that they are going to judge Russia by “its actions, not its words”.

Biden concluded: “Whatever Russia does next, we’re ready to respond with unity, clarity, and conviction… I’m hoping diplomacy is still available.”

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki last night said “de-escalation” would be needed before US-Russia talks can be put back on the table.

Meanwhile in the UK, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned that Britain will make it “as painful as possible” for Russia if Putin unleashes an all-out attack on Ukraine.

It follows Boris Johnson yesterday announcing sanctions on five Russian banks and three wealthy individuals - but he has been urged to step up sanctions.

Reutersreports that Putin is open to diplomacy, but he added: “Russia's interests and the security of our people are unconditional. So, we will continue to strengthen and modernise our army and navy.”

For more Ukraine news, follow The Independent’s live blog.

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