Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukrainian separatist regions, Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, to carry out “peacekeeping functions” on Monday night.

The decision followed his recognition earlier in the day of the two Moscow-backed regions as independent from Ukraine, which all but confirmed an imminent invasion on Ukraine.

“This was a speech to the Russian people to justify war,” a senior administration official, in the name of anonymity, told reporters Monday. Still, the official refused to call the move an invasion as Russia has had troops in Donbas for eight years.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday that President Joe Biden has been preparing for a move like this, calling the order a “blatant violation of Russia’s international commitments.”

Biden ordered penalties yesterday, targeting investment, trade and financing with Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia’s response to the sanctions will likely cut off natural gas to western Europe, as well as cause prices to skyrocket as the country is the main source of aluminum and titanium.

Biden’s sanction activity triggered statements from House Republicans, warning Biden to refrain from a symbolic penalty that would only encourage Putin.

“Now is the time for President Biden to impose sanctions that strike at the heart of the Russian economy, and permanently end Nord Stream 2 once and for all, as he promised the world he would do,” said Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), who are the top Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees.

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