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February 23, 2023

Biden’s Pretty Peace Pitch

The president responds to Vladimir Putin and calls for Russian aggression in Ukraine to stop.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden gave a speech to the European nations regarding the Russia-Ukraine war at Warsaw’s Royal Castle in Poland. Biden had been in Kyiv, Ukraine, the day before pledging more aid to President Volodymyr Zelensky — another half-billion dollars, bringing the total to nearly $200 billion in aid to Ukraine. To his credit, Biden was able to give his speech without stumbling or fumbling over his words too much and was mostly comprehensible. The bar isn’t very high, though.

He reflected on where the world was a year ago, facing the largest land war in Europe since World War II. “One year ago,” the president stated, “the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv. Well, I just came from Kyiv and I can report Kyiv stands strong. Kyiv stands proud. Kyiv stands tall. And most importantly, Kyiv stands free.”

It’s worth noting at this juncture that Biden’s trip to Kyiv was a surprise visit intended to show steadfast support for Ukraine and its people. However, it was turned into a media spectacle complete with fake air raid sirens and sounds of explosions to help sell the immense bravery of the American president. This dog and pony show fell flat stateside as the American people are still dealing with the fallout of the Ohio train derailment. It has caused many to wonder why our president seems to value the people of other nations above his own.

Biden’s speech then addressed Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation remarks from earlier in the day. Putin hashed over the same grievances that he claimed pushed him into this war in the first place. He claims that the West is trying to destroy Russia and take its nuclear weapons. He claims that NATO was taking over Ukraine and eliminating an essential buffer. Most remarkably, Putin declared that he was suspending New START — an accountability arms treaty that limits the number of deployable nuclear warheads in Russia and the U.S. and allows each country to inspect the other’s facilities to ensure transparency.

Biden rebutted these accusations, saying: “The United States and the nations of Europe do not seek to seek to control or destroy Russia. The West was not plotting to attack Russia, as [President Vladimir] Putin said today. And millions of Russian citizens only want to live in peace with their neighbors are not the enemy. This war was never a necessity. It’s a tragedy.” Biden notably did not address the New START suspension.

Biden went on to explain how to deal with autocrats, declaring: “The democracies of the world have grown stronger. while the world’s autocrats — including Putin — have become weaker. Autocrats only understand one word — no, no, no. No, you will not take my country. No, you will not take my freedom. No, you will not take my future.”

This is an interesting statement. More than a few Americans would love for Biden to open his ears and hear his own speechwriter’s words and perhaps follow the advice, or at least not be surprised when conservatives tell him and his administration: No, you will not take our freedom (vaccine mandates and big tech censorship). No, you will not take our future (abortion and trans-ing the kids).

Biden talked about the unity of NATO and complimented the particular contribution of Poland, which has been a leader in humanitarian aid for Ukrainian citizens, housing 1.5 million refugees and countless more who used the country as a waypoint before moving on to other safe havens. Poland has also contributed $3.8 billion in humanitarian and military aid to the embattled Ukraine. Biden also stated that NATO is “more united and more unified than ever before. … One year into this war, Putin no longer doubts the strength of our coalition, but he still doubts our conviction; he doubts our staying power; he doubts our continued support for Ukraine; he doubts they can remain unified. But there should be no doubt — our support for Ukraine will not waiver. NATO will not be divided and we will not tire.”

The speech ended with a call for peace, for Russia to stop invading Ukraine, and the promise of more sanctions should Russia fail to comply. These are fine sentiments. However, the AP conceded, “While Biden is looking to use his whirlwind trip to Europe as a moment of affirmation for Ukraine and allies, the White House has also acknowledged that there is no clear endgame to the war in the near term, and the situation on the ground has become increasingly complex.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board further points out that Putin has promised more war and blames the West for it. China seems to be making more threatening moves, and there are concerns from the White House that the Chinese Communist Party is considering providing lethal aid to Russia.

At this point in the proxy war, the world waits for Putin’s next move. As The Wall Street Journal points out, “The risks of [the U.S.] backing Ukraine are real, but the risks of abandoning it are greater.” The United States cannot back down at this point; the wolves (China and Russia) would be on us in an instant, and our global credibility (what little we have left) would be shot.

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