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U.S. announces new Russian sanctions, plans to admit thousands of Ukrainian refugees

BRUSSELS — President Joe Biden will try to rally the leaders of some of the world’s most powerful democracies to increase their efforts to aid Ukraine in a series of high-stakes meetings here Thursday as he is expected to announce new sanctions on Russia. 

Biden was scheduled to attend an emergency gathering of NATO leaders, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was also scheduled to address, followed by a meeting with leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations and an address to European Union leaders, the White House said.

The White House also planned to announce additional sanctions on Russian political figures, entities and oligarchs Thursday, along with new ways to enforce them, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday. Biden was also expected to discuss the long-term U.S. military posture in Europe with the allies, as well as how the countries would respond if Russia were to carry out nuclear or chemical warfare, Sullivan said.

March 23, 202200:50

Sullivan said the group would also have an announcement Friday after Biden’s meeting with the European Commission about a plan to reduce European dependence on oil from Russia.

As the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II enters its second month, the discussions here could be among the most consequential of Biden’s presidency. When Biden was asked as he was leaving the White House for Brussels how likely he thought the threat of chemical warfare was, he said, “I think it’s a real threat.”  

White House officials say they hope the visit and the summits will also provide a show of unity that could deter Russia.

NBC News reported Tuesday that Biden could announce on his trip that the U.S. plans to permanently maintain an increased number of its troops deployed in NATO countries near Ukraine, according to four people familiar with the discussions. Sullivan said that Biden is constantly reviewing plans for near-term adjustments of U.S. forces in Europe but that an announcement about the issue was not expected Thursday.

At home, Biden continues to face pressure from Democrats and Republicans alike to do more for Ukraine, along with sagging approval numbers from voters. In a Gallup Poll this month, 42 percent of respondents said they approved of the job he is doing, little changed in recent months, although his handling of the conflict with Russia rose by 6 points, to 42 percent.

Biden plans to travel to Poland on Friday to offer support as it deals with millions of refugees who are fleeing the conflict and to thank U.S. troops stationed there.

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