WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Wednesday vowed that Russia`s Vladimir Putin will “pay over the long run” even if he makes some gains on the battlefield in Ukraine. “While he may make gains on the battlefield – he will pay a continuing high price over the long run,” President Biden said in his State of the Union Address.
Accusing his Russian counterpart Putin of waging a “premeditated and unprovoked” war against Ukraine, President Biden said that the United States is ready to tackle the challenge posed by him. “Throughout our history, we’ve learned this lesson, when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos. They keep moving. And, the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising,” Biden said addressing the joint session of the Congress in his first State of the Union.
Joe Biden led a standing ovation for the embattled Ukrainian people on Tuesday in a State of the Union speech that he rewrote to assail Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine. “Let each of us if you`re able to stand, stand and send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine and to the world,” Biden said.
Often polarized along partisan lines, Democrats and Republicans rose to applaud his support for Ukraine, many waving Ukrainian flags and cheering in the chamber of the House of Representatives at his first formal State of the Union speech.
In a deviation from his prepared remarks, Biden said of Putin, “He has no idea what`s coming.” Biden was looking to reset his presidency after the first year in office marked by rapid economic growth and trillions of dollars in new programs but beset by the highest inflation in 40 years and a lingering coronavirus pandemic.
The annual speech to Congress gave Biden a platform to highlight his agenda, reassure fretful Americans and seek to boost his sluggish poll numbers amid dire warnings his fellow Democrats could face losses in November congressional elections. In his State of the Union Address, Biden also touched upon some of the key successes of the year-old administration and his policy perspective to some of the key challenges being faced by the nation, both on the domestic and international front.
Ahead of Biden`s arrival, the flags were passed out in the House chamber, the venue for his speech. Several women members of Congress arrived wearing the flag`s colours of yellow and blue. Biden`s challenge was to show Americans he is on top of the West`s response to the most tense period in relations with Russia since the Cold War ended 30 years ago.
Russia`s invasion of Ukraine has tested Biden`s ability to respond rapidly to events without sending American forces into battle. The crisis has forced Biden to reshape the speech to focus on uniting Americans around a global effort to punish Moscow and support Kyiv.
He launched heavy criticism of Putin in his remarks, saying the Russian leader had badly miscalculated Ukraine. “He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would rollover. Instead, he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people,” he said. “From President Zelenskiy to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their courage, their determination, inspires the world, ” Biden said adding, “Putin ignored efforts to prevent war.”
“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 will say. “Putin was wrong. We were ready.” Biden announced the United States will ban Russian flights from American airspace.
Biden, however, said that the US forces “will not engage in the conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine” adding that his top priority was to tame inflation in the US.
In a show of support for Ukraine, first lady Jill Biden had as her guest at the speech the Ukraine ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, who travelled in the Biden motorcade from the White House to Capitol Hill.