Joe Biden has warned that Vladimir Putin must “pay a price” for his invasion of Ukraine.
The US President said that the West was ready for Putin’s attack on the European country and highlighted how the Russian leader had ignored options to avoid war.
He described Russia’s attack as “premeditated and unprovoked”, saying Putin had “rejected efforts at diplomacy”.
He added: “He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond, and he thought he could divide us here at home.
“Putin was wrong. We are ready.”
Mr Biden was speaking during his State of the Union address on Tuesday (2 March) evening, almost a week after troops were sent into Ukraine.
He said: “Throughout 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.”
The US leader went on to applaud the bravery of Ukrainians who have been defending their homes since the invasion began.
He also praised the unity of Western allies who have agreed on tough sanctions against Russia and are working to provide weapons, equipment and aid to Ukraine.
Mr Biden added that the US will join allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, and is cutting off Russia’s largest banks and access to technology.
However, he stressed that US forces will not be engaged in the conflict with Russia and Ukraine.
What did Joe Biden say about the Russian invasion in his State of the Union speech?
In his State of the Union address to Congress, Joe Biden said:
“Tonight, we meet as Democrats, Republicans, independents, but most importantly, as Americans with a duty to one another, to America, to American people, to the Constitution. And an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.
“Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the very foundations of the free world. Thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways, but he badly miscalculated.
“He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead, he was met with a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.
“President Zelenskyy — to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their determination literally inspires the world. Groups of citizens blocking tanks with their bodies. Everyone from students to retirees to teachers turned soldiers defending their homeland.
“In the struggle, President Zelenskyy said in his speech in the European parliament, light will win over darkness. The Ukrainian ambassador to the United States is here tonight sitting with the first lady.
“If you are able to stand, please stand and send an unmistakable signal to the world. Thank you.
“We, the United States of America, stand with Ukrainian people. Throughout our history, we have learned this lesson. When dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos. They keep moving. The cost to America and the world keeps rising.
“That is 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. American resolve matters.
“Putin’s latest attack on Ukraine was premeditated and totally unprovoked. He rejected repeated, repeated efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO would not respond. He thought he could divide us at home in this chamber and this nation and he thought he could divide us in Europe as well, but Putin was wrong.
“We are ready. We are united and that is what we did. We stayed united.
“We prepared extensively and carefully. We spent months building coalitions of other freedom loving nations in Europe and the Americas to the Asian and African continents to confront Putin.
“Like many of you, I spent countless hours unifying our European allies. We shared with the world in advance what we knew Putin was planning and precisely how we would try to falsify and justify his aggression.
“We countered Russia’s lies with the truth, and now he has acted, the free world is holding him accountable along with 27 members of the European Union including France, Germany, Italy as well as countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, even Switzerland inflicting pain on Russia and supporting the people of Ukraine. Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been.
“Together, along with our allies, we are right now enforcing powerful economic sanctions. We are cutting off Russia’s largest banks and international financial system, preventing Russia’s central bank from defending the Russian ruble, making Putin’s $630 billion war fund worthless.
“We are choking 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 built billions of dollars off this violent regime, no more.
“I mean it. The United States Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of the Russian oligarchs. We are joining with European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets. We are coming for you.
“Tonight, I am announcing we will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding an additional squeeze on their economy.
“He has no idea what is coming. The ruble has already lost 30 percent of its value. The Russian stock market has lost 40 percent of its value. Trading remains suspended. The Russian economy is reeling. Putin alone is the one to blame.
“Together with our allies, we are providing support to the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom. Military assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance.
“We are giving more than a billion dollars of direct assistance to Ukraine and will continue to aid Ukrainian people as they defend their country and help ease their suffering.
“But let me be clear. Our forces are not engaged and will not engage in the conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine. Our forces are not going to Europe to fight Ukraine but to defend our allies in the event Putin decides to keep moving west.
“We have mobilised American ground forces, air squadrons, ship deployments to protect NATO countries including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
“As I have made 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.
“We are clear eyed. Ukrainians are fighting back with pure courage. The next few days, weeks and months will be hard on them. Putin has unleashed violence and chaos. But while he may make gains on the battlefield, he will pay a continuing high price over the long run.
“And a pound of Ukrainian people — the proud people pound for pound ready to fight with every inch they have. They have known 30 years of independence. Have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.
“To all Americans, I will be honest with you as I always promised I would be, a Russian dictator invading a foreign country has cost around the world and I am taking robust action to make sure the pain of our sanction is targeted at the Russian economy and we use every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers.
“Tonight, I can announce the United States has worked with 30 other countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world. America will lead that effort. Releasing 30 million barrels from our own strategic petroleum reserve and we stand ready to do more if necessary. United with our allies.
“These steps will help blunt gas prices here at home. I know news about what is happening can seem alarming to all Americans.
“But I want you to know we are going to be OK. We are going to be OK. 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.
“While it shouldn’t have taken something so terrible for people around the world to see what is at stake, now everyone sees it clearly. We see the unity among leaders of nations, a more unified Europe, a more unified West. We see unity among the people gathering in cities and large crowds around the world even in Russia to demonstrate their support for the people of Ukraine.
“The battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment. The world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security. This is the real test. It is going to take time. Let’s continue to draw inspiration from the iron will of the Ukrainian people.
“To our fellow Ukrainian Americans who forged a deep bond that connects our two nations, we stand with you. We stand with you.
“Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks but it will never gain the hearts and souls of the Iranian people [this was a slip of the tongue by Biden]. He will never extinguish their love of freedom, and he will never, never weaken the resolve of the free world.”
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