Biden warns Russia of additional sanctions

Vice President Biden vowed Tuesday that the United States would impose further sanctions against Russia after the Kremlin moved to formalize its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine on Tuesday.

Following a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Poland, Biden blasted “an almost unbelievable set of events” unfolding on the Crimean peninsula.

“Russia's political and economic isolation will only increase if it continues down this path and it will in fact see additional sanctions by the United States and the EU,” Biden said.

The vice president accused Russian leaders of a “brazen military incursion” and said that a unified international response had exposed Russia as “naked before the world.”

“The world has seen through Russia's actions and has rejected the flawed logic,” Biden said.

Biden spoke shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a draft treaty with political leaders in Crimea formalizing his intention to assume control of the region. The Kremlin's ploy came two days after Crimea’s population voted overwhelmingly to secede in a referendum denounced by the U.S. and its allies as illegal under Ukrainian and international law.

Tusk, speaking alongside Biden, called the annexation “unacceptable to the international community.”

“It is not a problem with Ukraine only, and it is not only a problem of states that border Ukraine … It is a challenge for the whole world,” Tusk said.

The White House has described Biden's trip as a bid to “reassure our allies” and discuss “further steps” the U.S. would take in response to the developing diplomatic crisis.

Biden will also meet with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, as well as the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania during his trip, which includes a stop Wednesday in Vilnius. All four countries share a border with Russia.

Biden will also discuss steps the U.S. can take to help improve energy security in Europe in a bid to prevent Russia’s supply of oil and natural gas from becoming a political bargaining chip. 

In Warsaw, Biden said Tusk had informed him of efforts to “reverse natural gas flows” from Russia and find alternative energy sources.

The vice president will discuss ways NATO can strengthen its alliance commitments to countries on the border with Russia, the White House said.

“He will be talking about further steps that the United States can take and that NATO can take as an alliance to further shore up the security of Poland and the Baltics and other NATO allies, to increase training exercises and other things like that,” a senior administration official said.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said Biden's visit was “a clear signal to those who are interested in destabilizing the situation in the region.”

“We see his visit as yet further proof that NATO allies, and notably the U.S., are keeping up their commitment to collective defense,” he told Lithuanian national radio, according to AFP.

This story was updated at 10:37 a.m.