Biden Says No Troops to Ukraine, Is Silent on Ukrainian and Russian Refugees
President Joe Biden opened his first State of the Union address on a relatively rare foreign policy note, as conflict raged across the world in Ukraine.
“Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways,” Biden declared. “But he badly miscalculated.”
After praising the resolve of Ukrainian citizens and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Biden outlined a series of measures intended to bolster the Ukrainian resistance and punish Russia for its brutal campaign. Key among them were mentions of NATO unity, plans for “a dedicated task force” that would “go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs,” and the closure of American airspace to Russian flights. Sanctions took center stage, while immigration relief was nowhere to be seen.
Thankfully, Biden has opted to pursue measures beyond introducing American soldiers to the fight in Ukraine. “Let me be clear,” Biden said. “Our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.” Given that politicians have been agitating for a U.S.-enforced “no-fly” zone over Ukraine in recent days, this is a critical reassurance. Biden seems to recognize that maintaining a “no-fly” zone would involve direct conflict with Russia. The consequences of such engagement—combat between two nuclear-armed superpowers—could be grave.
There was, however, ample talk of sanctions. As Reason‘s Christian Britschgi recently noted, “an inherent feature of this strategy is harming ordinary Russians who aren’t responsible for their dictatorial government’s war and who have few options for influencing its behavior.” Russia’s rich will likely remain rich, even as Russian citizens feel the heat. Large numbers of Russians have taken to the streets to demonstrate their disdain for Putin’s war in Ukraine even so, faced with both shuttered international services and a regime that is arresting them for protesting.
Though Biden was q
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