278d ago / 7:31 PM EST

Lawmakers urge Biden to 'receive authorization' before involving U.S. troops in Ukraine

A bipartisan group of 43 House members sent a letter to President Joe Biden Tuesday urging him to "receive authorization from Congress before involving U.S. armed forces in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine."

Biden has repeatedly said that no U.S. troops will be deployed into Ukraine. "That is not on the table," Biden said in December. In an interview with NBC News earlier this month, Biden was asked if there was a scenario could prompt him to do so, including rescuing American citizens.

“There's not. That's a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another,” Biden said, after strongly urging all U.S. citizens to leave amid the escalating tensions.

In the Tuesday letter, led by Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, the lawmakers acknowledged Biden's stance, but added that should the situation change, "Congress stands ready to deliberate over the potentially monumental implications of such scenarios."

"The American people, through their representatives in Congress, deserve to have a say before U.S. troops are placed in harm’s way or the U.S. becomes involved in yet another foreign conflict," they wrote.

278d ago / 8:36 PM EST

White House defends sanctions after some Republicans criticize actions as insufficient

The White House on Tuesday pushed back against criticism that the new sanctions against Moscow are too narrow and do not go far enough to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for what President Joe Biden is calling "the beginning of a Russian invasion" of Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Tuesday evening, Daleep Singh, White House deputy national security adviser, said that the sanctions were not intended to "max out" at the beginning. 

"Sanctions are not an end to themselves. They serve a higher purpose, and that purpose is to deter and prevent," Singh said. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration intended to use the sanctions to "prevent a large scale invasion, death and destruction across Ukraine."

"If we do all the sanctions now, what is the deterrent effect or impact of preventing [Putin] to take further action?" Psaki asked.

Earlier Tuesday Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who serves on the Intelligence and Finance committees, called the sanctions “too little, too late,” while Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., dismissed the Biden effort as "woefully inadequate." 

278d ago / 5:27 PM EST

People sing the Ukrainian national anthem during a protest outside the Russian Embassy in Kyiv on Tuesday.

Chris McGrath / Getty Images

People hold signs and chant slogans during a protest outside the Russian Embassy in Kyiv on Tuesday.

Chris McGrath / Getty Images

A woman wears Ukrainian national colors at a demonstration along the street near the Russian embassy in Berlin on Tuesday.

Markus Schreiber / AP
278d ago / 5:48 PM EST

Czechs voice solidarity with Ukrainians

The people of the Velvet Revolution remember.

Czech residents voiced support for Ukraine on Tuesday, demonstrating in support as the country deals with ongoing escalations from Russia. 

In Prague, Czechs demonstrated outside Wenceslas Square, where in 1989 mass demonstrations sparked the beginning of Czechoslovakia's split from the Soviet Union.

Demonstrators held signs reading "Putin hands off Ukraine" and "Ukraine is not Russia." On Twitter, Czech's minister of foreign affairs, Jan Lipavský, posted a photo of a building draped in the blue and yellow of Ukraine's flag. 

Pro-Ukraine demonstrators display a Ukrainian flag at Wenceslas Square in Prague on Tuesday after Russia's recognition of eastern Ukrainian separatists.Michal Cizek / AFP - Getty Images
Michal Cizek / AFP - Getty Images
Michal Cizek / AFP - Getty Images
278d ago / 6:17 PM EST

Blinken calls off meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday canceled a planned meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, citing President Vladimir Putin's decision Monday to order troops into two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

Blinken, speaking alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at a news conference, said he had sent his Russian counterpart a letter canceling their Thursday meeting in light of the Kremlin's actions.

When he initially agreed to the meeting, Blinken said, it was on the condition that Russia not invade Ukraine further. "Now that we see the invasion is beginning, and Russia has made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy, it does not make sense to go forward with that meeting at this time," Blinken said Tuesday.

He added that the U.S. and its allies "remain open to diplomacy, but Moscow needs to demonstrate it is serious. The last 24 hours demonstrated the opposite."