US President Joe Biden delivering his State of the Union Address, in Washington on March 1, 2022. (IANS/White House)

US President Joe Biden delivering his State of the Union Address, in Washington on March 1, 2022. (IANS/White House)

Biden closes American air space to all Russian flights to further isolate Russia for its invasion of Ukraine

Washington, March 2, 2022

United States President Joe Biden anounced on Tuesday the closure of American air space to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and putting an additional squeeze on its economy for its invasion of Ukraine last week.

In his State of the Union Address, Biden said that as a result of the various economic measures already announced by the US and other countries, the Russian ruble had lost 30% of its value.

"The Russian stock market has lost 40% of its value and trading remains suspended. Russia’s economy is reeling and Putin alone is to blame.

"Together with our allies we are providing support to the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom. Military assistance. Economic assistance. Humanitarian assistance," he said.

Biden said the US was giving more than $ 1 billion in direct assistance to Ukraine and would continue to aid the Ukrainian people as they defend their country and to help ease their suffering.

At the same time, he made it clear that US forces were not engaged and would not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.

"Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO Allies – in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west. For that purpose we’ve mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, and ship deployments to protect NATO countries including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

"As I have made crystal clear the United States and our Allies will defend every inch of territory of NATO countries with the full force of our collective power," he declared.

Biden said that Russian President had, while invading Ukraine six days ago, sought to shake the foundations of the free world thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways.

"But he badly miscalculated. He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.

"From President Zelenskyy to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their courage, their determination, inspires the world. Groups of citizens blocking tanks with their bodies. Everyone from students to retirees teachers turned soldiers defending their homeland," he said.

"Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression they cause more chaos. They keep moving. And the costs and the threats to America and the world keep rising. That’s why the NATO Alliance was created to secure peace and stability in Europe after World War 2. The United States is a member along with 29 other nations.

Biden said Putin’s latest attack on Ukraine was "premeditated and unprovoked".

"He rejected repeated efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And he thought he could divide us at home. Putin was wrong. We were ready. Here is what we did," he said.

He went on to detail the steps taken by Washington over the past months to build a coalition to confront Putin.

"I spent countless hours unifying our European allies. We shared with the world in advance what we knew Putin was planning and precisely how he would try to falsely justify his aggression. We countered Russia’s lies with truth. And now that he has acted the free world is holding him accountable," he said.

"We are inflicting pain on Russia and supporting the people of Ukraine. Putin is now isolated from the world more than ever. Together with our allies –we are right now enforcing powerful economic sanctions. We are cutting off Russia’s largest banks from the international financial system. Preventing Russia’s central bank from defending the Russian Ruble making Putin’s $630 billion 'war fund' worthless.

"We are choking off Russia’s access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come.

"Tonight I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime no more. The U.S. Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs. We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts your luxury apartments your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains," he said.

"And we remain clear-eyed. The Ukrainians are fighting back with pure courage. But the next few days weeks, months, will be hard on them. 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.

"And a proud Ukrainian people, who have known 30 years of independence, have repeatedly shown that they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards," he said.

"To all Americans, I will be honest with you, as I’ve always promised. A Russian dictator, invading a foreign country, has costs around the world. And I’m taking robust action to make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at Russia’s economy. And I will use every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers."

Biden announced that the US had worked with 30 other countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world. America will lead that effort, releasing 30 million barrels from its own Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He said it stood ready to do more if necessary, unified with its allies.

"These steps will help blunt gas prices here at home. And I know the news about what’s happening can seem alarming. But I want you to know that we are going to be okay.

"When the history of this era is written Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger. While it shouldn’t have taken something so terrible for people around the world to see what’s at stake, now everyone sees it clearly.

"We see the unity among leaders of nations and a more unified Europe, a more unified West. And we see unity among the people who are gathering in cities in large crowds around the world, even in Russia to demonstrate their support for Ukraine.

"In the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security. This is a real test. It’s going to take time. So let us continue to draw inspiration from the iron will of the Ukrainian people," Biden added.


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