The US is banning all Russian aircraft from using its airspace in response to Moscow’s ongoing war on Ukraine, President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday.
Addressing a joint session of Congress for his first State of the Union, Biden described the closure of US airspace as just the latest in a series of measures intended to tighten the screws on the Kremlin in response to its offensive.
In addition to successive waves of sanctions that have sent the Russian economy into free fall, the US and its allies have imposed export restrictions on key technologies that Biden said will eat at Russia’s economic strength and “weaken its military for years to come.”
The Department of Justice is further forming a task force that will go after the assets of Russian oligarchs.
Biden addressed them directly, saying the US and allies will “find and seize your yachts your luxury apartments your private jets.”
“We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” he said.
Russia began its offensive on Ukraine on Feb. 24. It has resulted in at least 136 civilians, including 13 children, being killed, according to UN estimates. About 400 others have been injured, including 26 children.
The nationwide assault has led to nearly 680,000 people fleeing Ukraine for neighboring countries, according to the international body.
Russia intensified its aerial and artillery bombardment this week, particularly on the capital, Kyiv, and Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, where a massive explosion rocked Freedom Square. Kharkiv, near the Russian border, is home to some 1.5 million people, while the population of Kyiv is nearly 3 million.