Accusing his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of waging a “premeditated and unprovoked” war against Ukraine, President Joe Biden in his maiden State of the Union Address said 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.
“That’s why the NATO Alliance was created to secure peace and stability in Europe after World War II. The United States is a member along with 29 other nations. It matters. American diplomacy matters,” he said, launching a blistering attack on Putin.
“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. Putin was wrong. We were ready,” Biden said.
Biden said that his Russian counterpart badly miscalculated the attack on Ukraine. “Putin 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.
“In this struggle as President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy said in his speech to the European Parliament ‘Light will win over darkness.’ The Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States is here tonight. Let each of us here tonight in this Chamber send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine and to the world,” he said amidst applause from a packed house of lawmakers.
Biden said the US and its allies prepared extensively and carefully. “We spent months building a coalition of other freedom-loving nations from Europe and the Americas to Asia and Africa to confront Putin,” he said.
“We countered Russia’s lies with truth. And now that he has acted the free world is holding him accountable,” he said amidst another round of applause.
“Together with our allies -we are right now enforcing powerful economic sanctions. We are cutting off Russia’s largest banks from the international financial system. Preventing Russia’s central bank from defending the Russian Ruble making Putin’s $630 Billion “war fund” worthless,” he said.
“We are choking off Russia’s access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come. Tonight I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime no more,” he said.
Biden said a Russian dictator, invading a foreign country, has costs around the world. “And I’m taking robust action to make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at Russia’s economy. And I will use every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers,” he said.
He said that 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. “We see the unity among leaders of nations and a more unified Europe a more unified West. We see unity among the people who are gathering in cities in large crowds around the world even in Russia to demonstrate their support for Ukraine,” he said.
“In the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security,” he added.
Biden said that the US Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs. “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,” he said.
“And tonight I am announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American air space to all Russian flights – further isolating Russia – and adding an additional squeeze – on their economy. The Ruble has lost 30% of its value,” he said.
He said the Russian stock market has lost 40% of its value and trading remains suspended. Russia’s economy is reeling and Putin alone is to blame, he added.
At the same time, Biden asserted that the US forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine. “Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO Allies – in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west,” he said.
“For that purpose we’ve mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, and ship deployments to protect NATO countries including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. As I have made crystal clear the United States and our Allies will defend every inch of territory of NATO countries with the full force of our collective power,” he said.
In his address, Biden 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.
“We have a choice. One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages,” he said.
“Make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America. More goods moving faster and cheaper in America. More jobs where you can earn a good living in America. And, instead of relying on foreign supply chains – let’s make it in America,” he said.
“Economists call it ‘increasing the productive capacity of our economy.’ I call it building a better America. My plan to fight inflation will lower your costs and lower the deficit,” Biden said.
Biden also highlighted how his Administration is executing on his comprehensive strategy to make our communities safer and reduce gun crime.
As part of an ongoing Administration-wide effort to prevent, deter, and punish identity theft and other forms of pandemic fraud by serious criminal syndicates, Biden announced that the Department of Justice (DoJ) will appoint a Chief Prosecutor to Focus on the Most Egregious Forms of Pandemic Fraud Including Identity Theft by Criminal Syndicates.
He called on the Congress to provide the resources needed for the DOJ Task Force to expand prosecutions of egregious pandemic fraud, including in support of the strike force teams.
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