Biden uses State of the Union to send Putin a warning and outline his stalled national agenda

Addressing political leaders in Washington, Biden began his State of the Union address by sending a resounding message to the world: the West is united in its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and condemns the Russian leader for his aggression. Near the start of the speech, Biden encouraged everyone in the chamber to show that support with a resounding standing ovation and said the United States and its allies had “an unwavering determination that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.”

Biden noted that Putin’s aggression has only strengthened the resolve of the world’s democracies to counter the rise of autocracies.

“Six days ago, Russian Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world, thinking he might bend it to his menacing ways. But he miscalculated,” Biden said. “He thought he could roll in Ukraine and the world would flip. Instead, he encountered a wall of force he never imagined. He encountered the Ukrainian people.”

He added: “Let each of us here tonight in this room send an unequivocal signal to Ukraine and to the world. Please stand up if you can and show that, yes, we, the United States of America, stand with the people of Ukraine.

The president also touted the West’s unanimity in the face of Russia’s aggression, saying their united front “inflicts pain on Russia and supports the Ukrainian people” and “stifles Russia’s access to technology that will undermine its economic might and weaken its military for years to come.”

“Putin’s latest attack on Ukraine was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected repeated and repeated efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO would not respond. He thought he could divide us at home. us, in this chamber and in this nation. Putin was wrong. We were ready,” Biden said.

“We have spent months building a coalition of other freedom-loving nations from Europe and the Americas to Asia and Africa to take on Putin. I have spent countless hours uniting our European allies “We shared with the world in advance what we knew Putin was planning and precisely how he would try to falsely justify his aggression. We countered Russia’s lies with the truth. And now that he has acted, the free world holds him responsible.

The president celebrated the impact the actions will have on “Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who no longer stole billions of dollars from this violent regime.”

“We join our European allies in finding and seizing your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We come for your ill-begotten gains,” he said.

He also claimed that “the Russian economy is in shock and Putin is solely to blame.”

Putin, for his part, was not to watch the speech, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “The president doesn’t usually watch TV addresses,” Peskov said in response to a question from CNN.

As Tuesday unfolded, the president, his administration and his allies made it clear that Ukraine was a priority.

The United States and its allies announced Tuesday morning that they had agreed to a release of 60 million barrels from their reserves, the White House and the International Energy Agency, as leaders seek to mitigate the effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on gas prices at home. Vice President Kamala Harris held five separate calls with European leaders and Biden held a half-hour call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Biden acknowledged that many Americans worry about how gas prices are affected by the war.

“I know the news about what’s happening can be alarming. But I want you to know it’s going to be okay,” he said. “When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have weakened Russia and strengthened the rest of the world.”

A return to domestic concerns

The discourse has evolved in recent days following the invasion of Ukraine. The annual address was also an opportunity for Biden to speak directly to the American people about his vision to build a better country, demonstrating how he will lead America out of the Covid-19 pandemic, into economic recovery and through the ramifications. of a war between Ukraine and Russia. A source said CNN Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was the designated survivor for Tuesday’s speech, meaning she is the Cabinet member assigned to stay outside the House chamber during the State of the Union in the event of a disaster.

Despite the initial focus on the war in Ukraine, Biden pivoted for much of the rest of the speech to a more traditional State of the Union address — laying out his national agenda for the year ahead and renewing his call for economic fairness for all Americans.

Biden outlined a plan to fight inflation, saying in excerpts released by the White House ahead of time that the nation has “a choice. One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation.”

“Cut your costs, not your wages. Make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America. on foreign supply chains – let’s do it in America,” Biden will say, according to the excerpts. “Economists call it ‘increasing the productive capacity of our economy.’ I call it building a better America. My plan to fight inflation will reduce your costs and reduce the deficit.

Biden announced new efforts to combat identity theft and criminal fraud in pandemic relief programs, including the appointment of a Justice Department prosecutor to identify and prosecute fraud in pandemic case. He will also announce higher penalties and more resources to prosecute fraud under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Unemployment Insurance (UI). Biden, according to the White House, will sign an executive order in the coming weeks directing federal agencies to combat fraud and theft within their respective jurisdictions.

The president has also called on Congress to send him legislation tackling climate change, arguing that some of the tax credits he has sought would reduce costs for families.

Biden is also expected to highlight the efforts his administration has made to reduce gun violence, reiterate his call for Congress to pass “common sense gun violence legislation that will save lives,” and urge Congress to pass his budget proposal, which includes hundreds of millions in funding for community violence intervention programs and community policing, according to a White House official.

As is tradition, First Lady Jill Biden has invited guests who represent the policies and themes the president will address during the speech, her office said. This year’s invitations included Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, as well as educators, a union representative, members of the tech community, an organizer for Native American causes, a healthcare worker and a military spouses were also invited to sit with the First Lady in her box above the dais.

Biden’s prime-time address on the state of the nation and where the country is headed comes after the president’s approval rating has fallen sharply since he last addressed the joint session of Congress last year. . With all eyes on Biden on Tuesday night, the White House made clear it was acutely aware of the pressure on him to deliver a successful message — especially as Democrats head into the mid-elections. -mandate of 2022.

Polls show Americans don’t trust Biden when it comes to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden also has one of the worst approval ratings ahead of his first inaugural speech of any US president in the polling era.

Democrats have relayed in recent weeks that the White House appears hopeful the speech will boost the president’s poll by showing leadership on national security and showing empathy for Americans frustrated by Covid-19 and the pandemic. inflation.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

CNN’s Kate Bennett, Kevin Liptak, Jake Tapper, Donald Judd and Harry Enten contributed to this report.

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