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Displaced citizens of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in eastern Ukraine, rest in a sport hall in Taganrog, Russia, on Monday. U.S. President Joe Biden barred U.S. citizens, residents and corporations from undertaking new trade, investment or financing with those regions.The Associated Press

U.S. President Joe Biden is imposing sanctions on two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized them as independent entities and announced he would send in Russian troops.

Canada, the European Union and Britain all said they were also preparing sanctions that would roll out in the coming days.

Neither the United States nor Canada, however, described Mr. Putin’s actions of openly sending Russian forces onto Ukrainian territory as an invasion, which would trigger a much larger round of sanctions on Russia itself.

Mr. Biden on Monday issued an executive order barring U.S. citizens, residents and corporations from undertaking new trade, investment or financing with the self-described peoples’ republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

The order will also allow the U.S. government to impose personal sanctions on anyone who “operates” in those areas of Ukraine.

Mr. Biden said the aim of the order was to “deny Russia the chance to profit from its blatant violations of international law.”

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White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki suggested Mr. Biden was preparing further actions targeted at Moscow.

All of this, she said, was separate from the much-wider sanctions that the U.S. has said it would levy in the event Mr. Putin invades Ukraine, intimating the White House did not yet view Mr. Putin’s sending of troops into the breakaway areas as the long-feared invasion.

The Canadian government took a similar tack.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said in a statement that Ottawa will levy sanctions on Russia over its recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent territories – a measure she described as a blatant disregard for international law.

But Ms. Joly said this is not the same package of sanctions Canada had prepared in case of an invasion of Ukraine.

In the statement, Ms. Joly strongly condemned Russia’s actions, saying it represents a “clear violation” of the United Nations Charter and the Minsk agreements, which had sought to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine. Mr. Putin’s move, Ms. Joly said, was “a serious threat to the security and stability of the region.̀”

Justin Trudeau’s office said he spoke with the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. “They emphasized that any further military incursion into Ukraine would have serious consequences, including co-ordinated sanctions,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk have been waging war against the Ukrainian government since 2014.

Held by pro-Russian separatists

Claimed by separatists, held by Ukraine

Annexed by Russia in 2014

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Kyiv

Luhansk

UKRAINE

Donetsk

MOLDOVA

ROMANIA

Crimea

0

200

Black Sea

KM

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:

TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS

Held by pro-Russian separatists

Claimed by separatists, held by Ukraine

Annexed by Russia in 2014

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Kyiv

Luhansk

UKRAINE

Donetsk

MOLDOVA

ROMANIA

Crimea

0

200

Black Sea

KM

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:

TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS

Claimed by separatists,

held by Ukraine

Held by pro-Russian

separatists

Annexed by Russia in 2014

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POLAND

Kyiv

Luhansk

UKRAINE

Donetsk

MOLDOVA

ROMANIA

Sea of Azov

Crimea

0

200

Black Sea

KM

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; REUTERS

Over the past several months, Mr. Putin has built up a force of at least 170,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders. Mr. Biden has said the Kremlin has a plan to stage a “false flag” attack, blame it on Ukraine and then use this as a pretext to invade the country and capture the capital, Kyiv.

In a speech Monday announcing his recognition of the breakaway regions, Mr. Putin attacked Ukraine’s right to exist as an independent country and lamented the breakup of the Russian empire.

Ms. von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel said in a statement that they would impose sanctions over Russia’s actions, and that recognizing Donetsk and Lugansk was “a blatant violation of international law.”

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the government would announce new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday “in response to their breach of international law and attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Mr. Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directly after Mr. Putin’s speech on Monday afternoon Washington time. The White House said he also called French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In his call with Mr. Zelensky, the President condemned Mr. Putin and reaffirmed the U.S. would bring down more sanctions if Russia goes further in its aggression against Ukraine, the White House said.

A summary of the call with Mr. Macron and Mr. Scholz said the three leaders discussed co-ordinated action against Russia.

Mr. Blinken called the recognition of the breakaway regions “a clear attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“States have an obligation not to recognize a new ‘state’ created through the threat or use of force, as well as an obligation not to disrupt another state’s borders. Russia’s decision is yet another example of President Putin’s flagrant disrespect for international law and norms,” he said in a statement.

The leaders of Poland and Latvia also condemned Russia’s actions.

The Kremlin’s recognition of the two breakaway territories was “an act of aggression against Ukraine that must be met with unequivocal response & immediate sanctions,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Twitter. “It is the only language Putin understands.”

Latvia’s Prime Minister, Arturs Krisjanis Karins, also called for “robust economic sanctions” against Russia and those “responsible for encroachment on Ukraine’s statehood.”

With reports from Ian Bailey in Ottawa, Paul Waldie in Warsaw and Mark MacKinnon in Kyiv

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