President Biden forcefully denounced Vladimir Putin during his first State of the Union address, outlining further steps to damage the Russian economy and declaring that, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the European Union this week, “Light will win over darkness.”
“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,” Biden said. “He met with a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined. He met with the Ukrainian people.”
Biden made some news tonight by announcing that the United States would close its airspace to all Russian flights, and that it would attempt to blunt gas prices by releasing 30 million barrels of oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve. “Putin is more isolated from the world now than he has ever been,” he said.
Biden also drew the audience’s attention to the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, and—with a nod to the disabled community—asked the attendees to stand if they were able to. Many audience members wore yellow and blue, the colors of Ukraine’s flag.
In a striking moment of unity for a Congress that is often defined by bitter animosity, Biden’s call to stand with the people of Ukraine generated bipartisan applause:
“The Ukrainian ambassador to the United States is here tonight…
Let each of us—if you’re able to stand—stand and send an unmistakable signal to the world.”
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) March 2, 2022