Russia And Putin Take Center Stage In Biden’s SOTU Address

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Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine took center stage at President Joe Biden’s state of the union address Tuesday, with Biden devoting the opening minutes of his speech to the issue.

Biden’s address came six days into Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden praised the efforts of the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in defending against the invasion so far, and reiterated his threat that Russia would face the full might of American power if it invades a NATO country. (RELATED: ‘When You Reach Kyiv You Will Be F*cked’: Ukrainian Soldiers Deliver Message To Russians)

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

“From President Zelenskyy to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their courage, their determination, inspires the world,” he added. “Groups of citizens blocking tanks with their bodies. Everyone from students to retirees teachers turned soldiers defending their homeland. In this struggle as President Zelenskyy said in his speech to the European Parliament; Light will win over darkness.'”

Biden invited Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova to attend the address, and he asked each member of Congress to stand in a show of support for Ukraine.

Biden’s address comes as Congress debates a $6.4 billion aid package for Ukraine, which would include both direct security funding as well as humanitarian aid and funding for Pentagon efforts to respond to Putin’s invasion.

The aid would be a counterpoint to the suite of sanctions and other economic penalties the U.S. and NATO allies imposed on Russia last week. The alliance had long threatened economic consequences should Putin move forward with a full-scale invasion. Biden’s sanctions targeted Russia’s largest state banks as well as Putin himself and other Russian oligarchs.

Biden also announced that he was banning all Russian air travel from U.S. airspace, a measure many other countries have already taken.

“Tonight I am 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,” Biden said.