President Biden began his address standing before House and Senate members of both parties who were clutching mini Ukrainian flags, sporting pins and wearing blue and yellow attire. Biden highlighted the tremendous unity at home and among allies abroad in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and in condemnation of Russia’s military invasion six days ago, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin “thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. He thought he could divide us at home, in this Chamber and in this nation. He thought he could divide us in Europe as well. But Putin was wrong.”
Biden noted months of diplomacy devoted to coalition building with ”other freedom-loving nations in Europe and the Americas to the Asian and African continents to confront Putin.” The president made it clear that U.S. troops would not fight in Ukraine but would “defend our NATO allies in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west.” To that end, Biden said that “the United States and our allies will defend every inch of territory that is NATO territory with the full force of our collective power.”
Biden did not mince words about the hardships to come for Ukraine and seemed to be preparing the public for what could be a brutal outcome when he said, “the next few days, weeks and months will be hard [on Ukraine]. 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.” The cost, in addition to sanctions leveled so far, included a new announcement by the president that U.S. airspace would close, effective immediately, to all Russian aircraft and a new Justice Department task force would investigate Russian oligarchs “who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime.” Biden specified that U.S. officials would seize “their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets…[their] ill-begotten gains” and painted a portrait of a cratering Russian economy with an isolated Putin squarely to blame.