Washington: In a media briefing on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said he was willing to impose "personal" sanctions on Putin, even as NATO has begun moving forces and military supplies to standby mode in light of the ever-present Russian threat against Ukraine.
Threats of Russian invasion were "imminent" and had the potential to "change the world" he said. The 100,000 soldiers massed on Ukraine's borders is a significant threat and one of the largest that the world has seen since WWII, he added.
Recent rounds of talks between US diplomats, including a meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, have fallen through with Blinken also warning Russia of US countermeasures if even a single Russian soldier steps onto Ukranian territory.
Russia denies planning an attack and says the crisis is being driven by NATO and U.S. actions. It is demanding security guarantees from the West, including a promise by NATO never to admit Ukraine. Moscow sees the former Soviet republic as a buffer between Russia and NATO countries.
New measures would include restrictions on exports of high-tech US equipment in the artificial intelligence, quantum computing and aerospace sectors, an unnamed high-ranking US official told AFP reporters on condition of anonymity.
"What we're talking about are sophisticated technologies that we design and produce," and cutting them off would hit Putin's "strategic ambitions to industrialize his economy quite hard," the official said.
A day after Washington said it was putting 8,500 US troops on alert for possible deployment to bolster NATO forces in Europe, the Russian military announced it was conducting new drills involving 6,000 troops near Ukraine and within the Crimea region.
The US and other Western nations have already begun talking to energy-rish countries like Qatar in order to secure supplies of crude oil and gas in case Russia pits a stranglehold on energy supplies in winter as a form of intimidation.
However US officials also pointed out that an energy crunch would also affect Russia adversely as its economy was dependent on energy exports.