The Ukraine crisis escalated on Monday when Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized two Russian-backed regions of Ukraine as independent zones. In a swift response, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order to impose sanctions on the area, halting all “investment, trade, and financing,” according to Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

The western sanctions can also be applied to “any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine,” now referred to as the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic. As the situation remains ongoing, President Biden stated that Putin was in “blatant violation of Russia’s international commitments,” and that additional measures would be taken should Russia invade Ukraine.

“To be clear: these measures are separate from and would be in addition to the swift and severe economic measures we have been preparing in coordination with Allies and partners,” he said on Monday.

Speaking with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he said that he called to “reaffirm the commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” adding that he “strongly condemned” Putin’s recognition of the two territories as independent.

Many White House insiders spoke with CBS News to declare that Putin’s actions signaled a call for war, and that they believed Russia would invade in the coming week. Russian troops have already been deployed along specific spots of the Ukrainian border, which Putin’s government has claimed was for “so-called peacekeeping functions.”

According to President Biden, Russia has sent roughly 190,000 forces to the Ukrainian border already and he is convinced that invasion is imminent.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky strongly condemned Putin's actions and supported Western sanctions as Russian invasion looms over Ukraine Crisis
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky strongly condemned Putin’s actions and supported Western sanctions as Russian invasion looms over Ukraine Crisis. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

“We will continue to pursue diplomacy until the tanks roll,” one White House official said, “but we’re under no illusion about what is likely to come next and we are prepared to respond decisively when it does.”

Joe Biden also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for nearly 30 minutes to discuss further allied Western sanctions.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also imposed sanctions on Tuesday, citing, “just the first of a barrage of sanctions, because we believe there will be more Russian irrational behavior to come.”

Following the call, Germany’s Olaf Scholz halted the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas project pipeline, which would have sent gas from Russian to Germany. According to Reuters, the pipeline was “designed to double the flow of Russian gas direct to Germany,” and the $11 billion project was “Europe’s most divisive energy project.”

Now idle, the project’s September finish has been pushed back indefinitely. Europe’s gas prices were up 10% last month, and the pipeline was set to ease energy costs for residents facing record-high energy surges.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and former President, responded to the pipeline project’s halt, criticizing a move that could have saved people money and will not likely double their costs.

Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, simply pledged that Russia would not cut off their existing gas lines. Reuters reported that Germany already gets half of its gas supply from Russia.

A checkpoint at the border of Ukraine and Russia
A checkpoint at the border of Ukraine and Russia. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted out his support for the pipeline halt, and thanked German leadership for standing up for his country.

“This is a morally, politically and practically correct step in the current circumstances,” Kuleba said. “True leadership means tough decisions in difficult times. Germany’s move proves just that.”

According to The New York Times the European Union has yet to come to a decision regarding sanctions on Russia, but talks currently remain underway.

The group is planning to cut off access to European Union financial and capital markets, freeze assets, and impose travel bans, which would be the strongest sanctions imposed thus far.