U.S. President Joe Biden sharply criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday (March 1) and led a standing ovation for the embattled Ukrainian people in a State of the Union speech that he rewrote to address Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Putin was wrong. We were ready,” Biden said in his State of the Union address.
Biden stood in the chamber of the House of Representatives for his first formal State of the Union speech, looking to reset his presidency after a first year in office marked by rapid economic growth and trillions of dollars in new programs, but beset by the highest inflation in 40 years and a lingering coronavirus pandemic.
The annual speech to Congress gave Biden a platform to highlight his agenda, reassure fretful Americans and seek to boost his sluggish poll numbers amid dire warnings his fellow Democrats could face losses in November congressional elections.
Biden’s challenge was to show Americans he is on top of the West’s response to the most tense period in relations with Russia since the Cold War ended 30 years ago.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has tested Biden’s ability to respond rapidly to events without sending American forces into battle. The crisis has forced Biden to reshape the speech to focus on uniting Americans around a global effort to punish Moscow and support Kyiv.
Biden said Putin ignored efforts to prevent war.
In a show of support for Ukraine, first lady Jill Biden had as her guest at the speech the Ukraine ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, who traveled in the Biden motorcade from the White House to Capitol Hill.
(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)