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Ukraine and the 2022 State of the Union Address

March 10, 2022 by Meredith Polm


On March 1, 2022, President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address. He hit on several major topics that have impacted the nation over the last year. This post will focus on the president’s discussion of the most recent and pressing global issue: the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

READ MORE: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

During the address, many members of Congress and people in the audience donned yellow and blue clothing and held small flags to show their support for the people of Ukraine. To begin, President Biden condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. He praised the strength and will of the Ukrainian people, who have taken up arms to defend their country. He made it clear that the United States believes in the sovereignty of Ukraine and supports the cause of its people.

President Biden next laid out how the United States and other nations have taken action against Russia. In particular, he discussed what the member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have been doing to support Ukraine during this time. NATO is an alliance of European and North American countries that formed in the aftermath of World War II. Today, NATO “provides a unique link between these two continents, enabling them to consult and cooperate in the field of defense and security, and conduct multinational crisis-management operations together.”1 It is important to note that Ukraine is not a member of NATO nor of the European Union (EU).

READ MORE: What Is Happening in Ukraine?

President Biden discussed the build-up to the conflict and how many nations had been coming together for months to build coalitions against Putin. He highlighted that the United States had warned the world about what it suspected Putin of planning and pushed other countries to see through the Russian narrative.

He then recapped that nearly 30 members of the EU have come out against Russia, pointing out that even Switzerland—a nation known for its neutrality—has sided with Ukraine in the current conflict. The actions taken against Russia by other countries have been numerous. President Biden laid out several in his address:

  1. “Together, along with our allies, we are right now enforcing powerful economic sanctions.
  2. We’re 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.
  3. We’re choking Russia’s access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come.
  4. The United States Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of the Russian oligarchs. We’re joining with European allies to find and seize their yachts, luxury apartments, and private jets. We’re coming for your ill-begotten gains.
  5. And, tonight, I’m 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.
  6. Together with our allies, we’re providing support to the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom: military assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance. We’re giving more than a billion dollars in direct assistance to Ukraine. And we’ll continue to aid the Ukrainian people as they defend their country and help ease their suffering.”2

After laying out the above actions, President Biden made it clear that the U.S. military would not engage in a conflict against Russian forces in Ukraine. However, U.S. troops have begun to move into territory held by NATO nations as a preventative measure.

“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,” said President Biden. “For that purpose, we have mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, ship deployments to protect NATO countries, including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. And 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.”

The president closed his discussion of the situation in Ukraine by announcing that the United States, along with 30 other countries, plans to release 60 million barrels of oil from world reserves, and the United States will lead this effort by releasing 30 million barrels of its own resources.

He concluded by saying, “I know news about what’s happening can seem alarming to all Americans. But I want you to know: We’re going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.”

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you believe that the United States and other nations around the world should take up arms against Russia to defend Ukraine? Why or why not?
  2. Ukraine has asked to join the EU and NATO. Do you believe it should be allowed to join at this contentious time? Why or why not?
  3. What are your thoughts and opinions on the current situation between Ukraine and Russia? Does it remind you of anything else from your previous studies?

Additional Resources

READ MORE: The State of the Union Transcript

As always, we encourage you to join the discussion with your comments or questions below!

 

Sources

Featured Image Credit: PBS
[1] NATO: https://www.nato.int/nato-welcome/index.html
[2] White House transcript of the State of the Union: https://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2022/

 

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