(CN) — On a visit to Europe amid an escalating war in Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday rallied Western allies against Russia while announcing the United States will slap new sanctions on Moscow and take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
Biden arrived in Europe on Wednesday for a two-day visit that saw him meeting with Western allies on Thursday in Brussels before he heads to Poland on Friday to hold talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Biden attended back-to-back meetings with NATO, the G-7 and the European Union on Thursday. The West announced a new round of sanctions on every member of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, bank managers and defense companies.
The American president also said the U.S. will take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees in an effort to reunite families and provide Europe with $1 billion to help it deal with the millions of people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
In a news conference following Thursday’s emergency NATO meeting, Biden said he was in Brussels to ensure the West’s sanctions on Russia doesn’t get diluted over time. He called it the “most significant sanctions regime ever.”
“Look, if you’re Putin and you think that Europe is going to crack in a month or six weeks or two months – they can take anything for another month,” Biden said about Russia’s ability to withstand sanctions. “We have to stay fully, totally, thoroughly united.”
He said sanctions were not going to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from his invasion of Ukraine, but that they must be seen as “increasing the pain.”
The war in Ukraine started a month ago when Putin ordered a full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, a decision that brought a major war back to Europe and fulfilled years of warnings about Putin’s nationalist dreams to reconstitute the old Russian empire and build a new Slavic superstate through violent means.
The war continues to escalate as Russia’s advance slows due to stiff Ukrainian resistance. Both sides are suffering massive losses as they pound each other. Russia has large stockpiles of missiles and it has begun to use even more destructive bombs in recent days, including at least one hypersonic missile. The West, meanwhile, is shipping billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Ukraine.
On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of using phosphorous bombs, which are banned if they produce an incendiary effect. The allegation had not been independently verified as of Thursday.
The accusation over phosphorous bombs comes amid Western warnings that Russia may resort to the use of deadly chemical weapons.
As he left for Europe, Biden said there was a “real threat” that Russia would use chemical weapons. At the news conference, Biden said the use of chemical weapons would force NATO to respond “in kind,” though he did not specify what that meant and he did not define it as a “red line” for the U.S.
“We’d make that decision at that time,” he said about what NATO’s response would be. “The nature of our response would depend on the nature of the use.”
In Ukraine, more intense fighting was taking place on Thursday with limited gains being made by either side. However, a large Russian landing ship was struck by Ukraine in the southern port of Berdyansk, delivering a further blow to Russia’s invasion.
Faced with Ukraine’s stiff resistance, Russia has stepped up its bombing of cities and Ukrainian military sites. The increased reliance on artillery and aerial attacks is causing ever more civilian deaths.