OnPolitics: White House levies sanctions against Russia

American Age Official

Greetings, OnPolitics readers!

As Western leaders denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin and rolled out punishing sanctions for his decision to invade eastern Ukraine, residents of Moscow braced for fresh economic hardship and a deadly war on their doorstep.

On Monday, Putin recognized two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine as “independent” and signed decrees sending troops into those territories to “maintain peace.”

Russians already taking a hit: Even before Putin’s announcement, the Russian stock market fell by a record 10.5%, the most in seven years, and continued its slide into Tuesday. The value of the ruble, Russia’s currency, plunged as well. Some Russians withdrew cash from ATMs, and housewives – long used to social and political crises – stocked up on buckwheat.

“I am too old to be afraid of anything, but the war is my biggest horror,” said Svetlana Gracheva, 67, who lives in western Russia and was in Moscow visiting her younger brother to celebrate a national holiday. 

It’s Amy with today’s top stories out of Washington. 

Don’t miss out: USA TODAY is offering a one-day only sale that gives new subscribers two months of free digital access followed by a rate of $9.99/month. 

Biden announces U.S.-Russia sanctions and calls out Putin’s aggression

Today, President Joe Biden said Russia’s actions will trigger sweeping sanctions, as Putin ordered troops to Ukraine. In a speech from the White House, Biden said the Russian leader has committed “a flagrant violation of international law.”

Putin on Tuesday received authorization from lawmakers to use Russian troops outside of the country, a move he said was necessary to formalize the military’s deployment in two rebel regions of eastern Ukraine. 

Biden described this as the start of an invasion.

“Russia just announced that it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine,” Biden said. “He’s setting up a rationale to take more territory by force, in my view. This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

What is included in the sanctions? Biden said the first wave of U.S. penalties includes “full blocking sanctions” on two major Russian financial institutions, as well as on the country’s sovereign debt.

“That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” he said. “It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or the European markets either.”

Real quick: stories you should read

  • Battle over LGBTQ rights in Florida’s classrooms: An amendment to what’s been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida would require school principals to disclose a child’s sexual orientation to parents within six weeks if they find out a student has come out as other than straight.
  • Biden on bankruptcy and student loans: Despite President Joe Biden’s campaign vow to ease the burden on people who owe student loans, federal lawyers continue to challenge bankruptcy rulings for some of the most desperate borrowers who meet a high legal standard to have their debt forgiven. 
  • SCOTUS may hear LGBTQ wedding case: The Supreme Court said that it will decide whether a web designer may decline to make wedding websites for same-sex couples in a case that could have sweeping implications in the battle over LGBTQ rights. 
  • Dakota Access pipeline: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a dispute between the company that operates the Dakota Access oil pipeline and several Native American tribes who say the project requires a more thorough environmental review. 

Mimicking Donald Trump, far-right lawmakers use personal celebrity to draw in donors

Small dollar donors spoke to USA TODAY about being among the thousands of individual contributors giving to the farthest-right members of Congress as they seek reelection. 

Inspired by their brash positions and the backlash they draw, the donors are helping these lawmakers amass campaign fortunes with little to no help from corporate political action committees, extending the right-wing populist movement Trump started.  

Success in campaign fundraising is no longer the result of support from political parties or political action committees, experts told USA TODAY. Now, the nation’s media and campaign finance ecosystem encourages candidates to make outrageous statements that boost their media presence, exposing their views to potential donors and repeating the cycle, just like Trump did.   

Thanks for reading, and hopefully you were able to mark today’s palindromic date with a fun moment! 

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