President Joe Biden addressed the press Thursday afternoon, February 24, to give America’s response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The commander-in-chief made several points very clear: Russia is entirely the aggressor, and this attack came without provocation, justification, or necessity, despite any claims to the contrary from President Vladimir Putin. The U.S. and most of the rest of the world condemn this aggression.
Many nations are united in punishing Moscow over time with harsh economic sanctions. The president also vowed to defend every inch of NATO territory with every ounce of America’s military might. But Russia isn’t gobbling up a NATO nation today, and there’s no guarantee it plans to. All offers of best wishes, moral support, and humanitarian aid aside, President Biden also made it quite clear that Ukraine fights alone.
A United Front?
Today’s speech came after a conference call with the leaders of other G7 countries. All agree, Biden said, that they will limit Russia’s ability to be part of the global economy. All Russian assets in the U.S. will be frozen, and the nation’s high-tech imports from around the globe will be cut in half, theoretically crippling Putin’s options for military growth and improvement. Some of the most powerful impacts will come over time, the president claims. In responding to press questions after his initial remarks, Biden stated explicitly that, yes, the sanctions against Russia will have at least as heavy an impact as Russia’s bullets and missiles in Ukraine.
The commander-in-chief also promised that American troops are heading to NATO’s eastern-most member nations – the ones most likely to face Russian aggression should Ukraine not satiate the Bear’s hunger. But that means little to the soldiers and civilians currently fighting a superior military force on their own doorsteps, as Ukraine isn’t a part of NATO. This response, of course, is precisely why Putin fought against the country’s inclusion in the alliance all along. NATO allies will be defended, “but our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict with Russia in Ukraine,” the president declared.
As for the message that the rest of the world stands firmly together against Russia, the president’s answers to press questions poked enough holes to sink it. When one reporter asked if there was disagreement among allies about Russia being expelled by SWIFT – the international banking system that acts as intermediary and executor of financial transactions between banks worldwide – he explained that it’s always an option, but it isn’t the position the rest of Europe wishes to take right now. When asked if he had urged China to join in the sanctions against Russia, his non-answer was answer enough: “I’m not prepared to comment on that at the moment.”
Whether these sanctions will do what the president claims they will over time remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely they’ll save any lives in Europe today. Biden says we’ll just have to reassess things in a month or so to see how the sanctions are working, but if it takes a month or more to see any effect, there may not be a Ukraine left to save.
~ Read more from James Fite.