White House Correspondent Ksenija Pavlovic Mcateer gives her take on the latest news from the White House

THE WHITE HOUSE

Biden to hold a virtual event on securing critical mineral supply chains against the backdrop of the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

DIGITAL ASSETS

FTX.US is launching FTX Gaming, a new gaming business.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Biden has no intention of sending American forces to fight inside Ukraine, according to a senior administration official. Scholz pulled the plug on Nord Stream 2. A “barrage of economic sanctions against Russia” to be rolled out today, according to Boris Johnson. 

*All this and more ahead!

Good Morning DC!

Yesterday was supposed to be a President’s Day holiday celebration, but the news took a dire turn. Russian President Putin first called for a dramatic Security Council meeting anticipating his next step: recognition of two breakaway regions in Eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Shortly after, Putin turned the cameras on him for an hour-long televised address that global media was transmitting in real-time with translation. 

Putin did not hide what he thinks. The international public was able to hear the Russian leader lamenting over the collapse of the Soviet Union. He said that Ukraine was “entirely created by Bolshevik, Communist Russia. This process started practically right after the 1917 revolution, and Lenin and his associates did it in a way that was extremely harsh on Russia – by separating, severing, what is historically Russian land. Nobody asked the millions of people living there what they thought.”

Putin went on to say that “Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks’ policy and can be rightfully called “Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine.” He was its creator and architect. This is fully and comprehensively corroborated by archival documents, including Lenin’s harsh instructions regarding Donbass, which was actually shoved into Ukraine. And today the “grateful progeny” has overturned monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. They call it decommunization. You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine.”

At the end of his address, Putin signed a decree granting recognition of sovereign Ukrainian territory as independent republics, with whom Russia immediately signed a so-called friendship and mutual aid agreement. 

“No one should mistake these theatrics as legitimate statecraft. This is Potemkin politics — President Putin accelerating the very conflict he has created,” said a senior administration official in the White House. 

Following Putin’s declaration, Biden has issued sanctions EO, a ban on investment and trade with Donetsk and Luhansk. The EO also provides the authority to impose economic sanctions on people in those two regions.

Additional steps will be rolled out today, the White House confirmed. A senior administration official shared the president’s thinking by saying that the US will “react based on actions that Russia takes” going forward. 

Biden has no intention of sending American forces to fight inside Ukraine, according to a senior administration official.

Secretary Blinken is supposed to meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov on Thursday, but as of right now, the plans are up in the air and subject to change if Russia takes a new military step. 

Will the Biden-Putin summit take place?

According to the White House, the meeting will only occur if Russia does not take further military action inside Ukraine.

Russia has ordered troops to deploy into breakaway regions of Ukraine. However, according to a senior administration official, the Russian forces moving into Donbas would not itself be a new step, but rather the state of affairs in that region and cause of instability since 2014.

“Russia has had forces in the Donbas region for the past eight years,” despite their narrative that they do not. Now, “they’re apparently making a decision to do this in a more overt and open way.

BREAKING THIS MORNING

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose country is heavily dependent on Russian gas,  has pulled the plug on Nord Stream 2. This morning at the press conference, he said that “the situation has fundamentally changed” and that Nord Stream 2 won’t be certified.

  

ON THIS DAY

In 2014, on this day, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was impeached. The impeachment happened due to widespread protests after he abandoned an association agreement with the European Union. He fled Ukraine and was later accused of embezzlement.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Today at the White House, Biden will hold a virtual event on securing critical mineral supply chains. He will meet with partners in the industry and California Governor Gavin Newsom to announce investments in domestic production of key critical minerals and materials.

This week marks a year since Biden signed Executive Order 14017 (EO), America’s Supply Chains, ordering a review of vulnerabilities in critical mineral and material supply chains. In June, the Biden-Harris Administration released supply chain assessment that found that US over-reliance on foreign sources and adversarial nations for critical minerals and materials poses national and economic security threats.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables  will announce today they will break ground this Spring on a new demonstration facility in California. They are testing the commercial viability of their sustainable lithium extraction process from geothermal brine. According to the White House, “This is a part of a multibillion-dollar investment in sustainable lithium production over the next five years.’

DIGITAL ASSETS

More news coming out of Russia. According to a press release announced on Monday, a bill that aims to regulate cryptocurrencies has been sent to parliament. 

TODAY’S CRYPTO PRICES

Bitcoin (BTC):$37,614.95

Ether (ETH):$2,587.05

SOL:$85.05

LUNA: $51.29

FTX.US, is launching FTX Gaming, a new gaming business.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has pulled the plug on Nord Stream 2. This morning, he said that “the situation has fundamentally changed” and that Nord Stream 2 won’t be certified. 

The phone call between Biden, Macron, and Scholz took place yesterday. According to the German read-out: “All three parties agreed that Russia’s unilateral step is a clear breach of the Minsk Protocol. Germany, France, and the US harshly condemn the Russian president’s decision. This step will not remain unanswered.”

Across the pond, in the UK, PM Boris Johnson held a COBRA meeting this morning. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Putin is “bent on a full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” and the UK will impose economic sanctions on Russia. The House of Commons will vote today sometime after noon GMT on sanctions and the freezing of assets and accounts linked to the Russian  oligarchs, so they cannot easily move their money around. The UK sanctions will “target not just at entities in Donbas and Luhansk and Donetsk, but in Russia itself – targeting Russian economic interests as hard as we can.”

Lavrov responded to the Western alliance announcing sanctions by saying that they are “used to it.” The Russian Foreign Minister said that “Our European, American, British colleagues will not stop and will not calm down until they have exhausted all their possibilities for the so-called ‘punishment of Russia.’ “ He added “They are already threatening us with all manner of sanctions or, as they say now, ‘the mother of all sanctions.’ Well, we’re used to it. We know that sanctions will be imposed anyway, in any case. With or without reason.

Speaking at the EU Indo-Pacific forum, VP of the European commission, Frans Timmermans, said that “we need to answer this blatant act of disregard for the rule of law and for international law with increased resolve to increase our cooperation across the globe, and especially also with the Indo-Pacific.”

And that’s a wrap for this Tuesday morning, February 22, 2022. Good Morning DC will be back tomorrow to bring you the latest first. 

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Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department...