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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
President Biden told reporters on Friday he will be moving some—but “not too many”—U.S. troops to Eastern Europe and NATO countries “in the near term” to counter potential Russian aggression. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also told reporters on Friday Russia has amassed enough troops to have the “capability” to seize Ukrainian cities, if President Vladimir Putin decides to go that route. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, sought to downplay the threat of an imminent invasion, saying Friday Ukrainians “don’t need this panic.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday the Biden administration is “finalizing” an economic sanctions package that would hit major Russian banks, prohibit the trade of Russian sovereign debt, and apply semiconductor export controls if Putin goes through with an invasion of Ukraine. Sanctions on Russia’s oil and natural gas exports—and disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT payment system—are reportedly “off the table” for now, but could be reconsidered at a later date.
North Korea conducted its seventh missile test of the month on Sunday, launching an intermediate-range, “Hwasong-12” ballistic missile into the sea for the first time since 2017. A senior White House official told reporters the administration plans to respond to the escalation in the coming days.