President Joe Biden in his first State of the Union pledged to inflict further financial pain on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, and pledged to work to lessen the impact on Americans.
Biden launched into his speech to Congress on Tuesday touting the resolve of Ukrainians and efforts by his administration, alongside NATO allies, to punish Russia for the incursion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said, “badly miscalculated” in the move.
“He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people,” Biden said, a line that drew a standing ovation.
Biden touted efforts to provide Ukraine with military and economic assistance, which has topped $1 billion so far.
“He has no idea what’s coming,” Biden said of Putin, a line that was not included in his prepared remarks.
The United States and allies have ratcheted up sanctions against Putin, top Russian leaders and the country’s financial sector in recent days. Biden also noted the Justice Department will organize a task force to target Russian oligarchs.
“Tonight I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime no more,” Biden said. “We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains.”
But Biden also conceded that the move would have an impact on Americans, particularly in spikes in gas prices. He pledged his administration would take steps to mitigate the harm to Americans, including working with 30 countries to free up 60 million barrels of oil from global reserves.
“To all Americans, I will be honest with you, as I’ve always promised. A Russian dictator, invading a foreign country, has costs around the world,” Biden said….
….From the Hill….
President Biden on Tuesday delivered his first State of the Union address under the cloud of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, projecting unity among U.S. lawmakers and allies abroad and calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways. But he badly miscalculated,” Biden said.
“Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home,” Biden said. “Putin was wrong. We were ready.”
Biden spent the first 10 minutes of his 62-minute address to Congress speaking about the unfolding crisis in Europe, before turning to domestic priorities like addressing inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic.
He used the address to announce plans to ban Russian aircraft from American airspace, joining the European Union and Canada in taking such a step, and highlighted a move by the U.S. and 30 countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves to address energy price spikes driven by the conflict.
“We stand ready to do more as necessary, united with our allies,” Biden said. “I want you to know, we’re going to be OK.”
“When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger,” Biden said.
Biden’s rhetoric on Ukraine, and particularly his recognition of the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States sitting next to the first lady, drew bipartisan applause as he vowed to remain tough on Putin. Members of both parties donned blue and yellow, a nod to the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
Other parts of the address drew much more partisan reactions….
Image…Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
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