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State of the Union: Biden touts courage of Ukraine, makes ‘clear’ US troops won’t engage in conflict

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President Biden confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s multi-front war on Ukraine during his first State of the Union address, while extolling the leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – and noted the courage of the Ukrainian people “inspires the world.”Biden made “clear” U.S. troops would not be engaged directly in the conflict, but instead, will defend NATO allies in the event Putin “decides to keep moving west.””I know news about what’s happening can seem alarming to all Americans, but, I want you to know, we’re going to be OK. We’re going to be OK,” Biden said. “When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war in Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.”BIDEN ADMINISTRATION RULES OUT NO-FLY ZONE OVER UKRAINE: ‘NOT GOING TO HAPPEN’The president, addressing a largely mask-less chamber of lawmakers and administration officials, began his speech tackling Russia’s “unprovoked” war on Ukraine.
President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington as Vice President Kamala Harris and House speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., look on. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
(Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)”Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the very foundations of the free world, thinking he could make it bend to menacing ways—But he badly miscalculated,” Biden said. “He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead, he met with a wall, a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined—he met the Ukrainian people.”The president touted Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people, saying their “fearlessness, their courage, their determination literally inspires the world.”
Oksana Markarova, ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, left, gestures while being introduced next to U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, right, during a State of the Union address by U.S. President Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Biden’s first State of the Union address comes against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions placed on Russia by the U.S. and its allies. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)”The Ukrainian ambassador to the United States is here tonight, sitting with the first lady,” Biden said, referring to Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, who attended the State of the Union as a guest of first lady Jill Biden. “Let us, each of us, if you’re able to stand, stand and send an unmistakeable signal to the world, to Ukraine.”Markarova was met with a standing ovation.
First lady Jill Biden greets her guest Ukraine Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova as Markarova arrives in the first lady’s box in the chamber of the House of Representatives before the State of the Union address by President Joe Biden to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool via AP)
(Evelyn Hockstein/Pool via AP)”We the United States of America stand with the Ukrainian people,” Biden said, noting that throughout history, the U.S. has learned that “when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos, they keep moving.””And the cost, the threats to America and to the world keeps rising,” Biden said. “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.”RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE: LIVE UPDATES He added: “American diplomacy matters. American resolve matters.”Biden shifted back to Putin, saying the war on Ukraine was “premeditated and totally unprovoked.””He rejected repeated efforts at diplomacy,” Biden said. “He thought the west or NATO wouldn’t respond—he thought he could divide us at home, in this chamber, in this nation. He thought he could divide us in Europe as well—but Putin was wrong.” 
ROME, ITALY – FEBRUARY 7: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky meets Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (not in picture) before a meeting at Palazzo Chigi, on February 7, 2020 in Rome, Italy.  ___ Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media as he leaves a news conference at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. 
(Photo by Antonio Masiello/Getty Images  |  Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via REUTERS)Biden added: “We are ready. We are united. And that’s what we did. We stayed united. We prepared extensively and carefully.”Biden said his administration and allies “spent months building coalitions of other freedom-loving nations in Europe and the Americas, from America to Asian and African continents, to confront Putin.”The president, pointing to his administration’s efforts to share intelligence with the public and allies ahead of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, which suggested false flag attacks to justify a Russian war on Ukraine, said they “countered Russia’s lies with the truth.””And now that he’s acted, the free world is holding him accountable,” Biden said. “Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been.”Biden addressed the economic sanctions the United States and allies have imposed on Russia, including efforts to cut off Russia’s largest banks and international financial system, and preventing Russia’s central bank from defending the Russian ruble.”We’re choking Russia’s access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come,” Biden said.Shifting to Russian oligarchs tied to the Kremlin, Biden said “no more” to the “corrupt leaders who bilked billions of dollars off” Putin’s violent regime.”RUSSIAN TROOPS STALLED NORTH OF KYIV, RUNNING OUT OF GAS AND FOOD: US OFFICIAL”I mean it,” Biden said, warning that the Justice Department is assembling a “dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs,” and joining European nations in working to seize their property including apartments, private jets and yachts.Biden, whose speech last year to a joint session of Congress was not technically a State of the Union, went on to announce that the United States would close off American airspace to all Russian flights, which he said would further isolate Russia.”He has no idea what’s coming,” Biden said in a message to Putin.
President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
(Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)Biden said the U.S. is providing support to Ukrainians “in their fight for freedom, military assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance,” and is giving “more than a billion dollars of direct assistance to Ukraine.””But let me be clear: our forces are not engaged and will not engage in the conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine,” Biden said. “Our forces are not going to Europe to fight Ukraine, but to defend our NATO allies in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west.” The president, who deployed an additional 7,000 U.S. troops to Germany last week, said the administration has mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons and ship deployments to protect NATO countries in the region—including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.”As I’ve made crystal clear, the United States and our allies will defend every inch of territory that is NATO territory with the full force of our collective power—every single inch,” he said. “And we’re clear-eyed.”The president admitted that “the next few days, weeks and months will be hard” on Ukrainians, but praised their “courage.”The Biden administration  ruled out on Tuesday setting up a no-fly zone for Russian aircraft over Ukraine, with senior defense officials saying enacting one would put the United States “in the fight.” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stretched into a sixth day Tuesday. Satellite imagery showed a 40-mile Russian convoy menacing the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.Biden went on to announce that the U.S., along with 30 other countries, will release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world—including 30 million barrels from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve in an effort to “blunt gas prices here at home.”The move comes amid criticisms from Republicans and former Trump administration officials who have criticized the Biden administration for cutting off U.S. energy production and forcing America and European allies to be reliant on Russian energy production. BLINKEN QUESTIONS RUSSIA’S PLACE ON UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCILMeanwhile, shifting to domestic issues, the president touted his administration’s efforts to address crumbling infrastructure across the nation, saying the bipartisan infrastructure package, which he signed into law last year will “transform America,” and create jobs for “millions of Americans.” Biden echoed a familiar phrase, calling to “buy American.””Every administration—Democrat or Republican—says they’ll do it— but we’re actually doing it,” Biden said. “We’ll buy American, to make sure everything from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the steel on the highway guardrails is made in America from beginning to end. All of it.” The president, acknowledging the threat that China poses to national security and economic prosperity, said the United States needs to “level the playing field with China,” calling for investments in emerging technologies and increased American manufacturing.But Biden addressed rising inflation in the U.S., saying it is “robbing” families of “gains they thought otherwise they would be able to feel.””That’s why my top priority is getting prices under control,” Biden said, touting the economy’s recovery under his administration.Biden laid out his administration’s strategy to combating inflation: “That means 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.””Instead of relying on foreign supply chains, let’s make it in America,” Biden said.STATE OF THE UNION: BIDEN TO SPEAK AGAINST DEFUNDING POLICE AMID VIOLENT CRIME SURGEInflation surged more than expected in January, notching another four-decade high as strong consumer demand and pandemic-related supply-chain snarls fueled rapid price gains that wiped out the benefits of rising wages for most Americans.The president referred to his economic plan, Build Back Better, which is stalled in Congress—just not by name.Biden called for cutting the cost of prescription drugs; cutting energy costs for families by “combating climate change” and making homes and businesses more “energy efficient; and cutting the cost of child care.Biden also called for a 15% minimum tax rate for corporations; the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act; raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour; and an extension of the child tax credit.The president also called for an increase in Pell Grants and support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and an increased investment in community colleges.Pivoting to the COVID-19 pandemic, the president, speaking to a chamber of lawmakers without masks following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated mask guidance, said the U.S. has “reached a new moment in the fight” against coronavirus.JEN PSAKI PRESSED ON TIMING OF WHITE HOUSE DROPPING MASK MANDATE: ‘WHAT CHANGED IN THE SCIENCE?’The president moved to declare that COVID-19 “no longer need to control our lives.””We’ll continue to combat the virus as we do other diseases,” Biden said, but added that “we have to stay on guard.”Meanwhile, Biden touted his administration’s efforts in combating the surge in violent crime across the nation.”The answer is not to defund the police, it’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them,” Biden said. “Fund them with resources and training they need to protect our communities.””Under the new guidelines, most Americans and most of the country can now go mask free and based on projections, based on projections, more of the country will reach that point across that point across the next couple of weeks,” Biden said.Meanwhile, the president touted retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer for his service, and reminded that he nominated his first pick to the high court last week— Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Biden went on to shift to immigration, as migrant encounters surge at the U.S. southern border.”We need to secure our border and fix the immigration system,” Biden said. “And you might guess, I think we can do both at our border.”Biden said his administration is setting up joint patrols in Mexico and Guatemala to catch human traffickers and putting in place dedicated immigration judges.220,000 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS EVADED BORDER PATROL SINCE OCTOBER: SOURCEBiden also mentioned Roe v. Wade, saying it is “under attack as never before,” and defended the LGBTQ+ community against the “onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families.””It’s simply wrong. I said last year, especially to our younger transgender Americans, I’ll always have you back as your president so you can be yourself and reach your God given potential,” Biden said.The president also called for students to “make up for lost learning” amid the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that children need to be in school.
President Joe Biden arrives to deliver his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of Calif., look on. (Saul Loeb, Pool via AP)
(Saul Loeb, Pool via AP)Shifting to cancer,  Biden said his administration has expanded eligibility for veterans suffering from respiratory cancers, and called on Congress to pass a law to ensure veterans “devastated” by toxic exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan “finally” get comprehensive health care benefits.The president, earlier this month, announced he would reignite the Obama-era Cancer Moonshot initiative, and set new goals to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years.BIDEN TO REIGNITE CANCER MOONSHOT INITIATIVE TO ‘END CANCER AS WE KNOW IT TODAY'”I think we can do better than that,” Biden said. “Turn cancers from death sentences into treatable diseases, and more support for patients and their families.”In closing, Biden said the traditional State of the Union words: “On this night, on our 245th year as a nation, I’ve come to report on the state of the nation, the State of the Union, and my report is this: the State of the Union is strong because you, the American people are strong.””We are stronger today than we were a year ago, and will be stronger a year from now than we are today,” Biden said. “This is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges of our time. And we will, as one people, one America, the United States of America.”

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