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US not to deploy troops to Ukraine, but will defend NATO allies: Biden

The President told concerned Americans in his State of the Union address: "I know news about what is happening can seem alarming to all Americans. What I want you to know, we're going to be okay. We're going to be okay." The Republicans too gave a standing ovation to him.

WASHINGTON, March 1: In a remarkable achievement in Joe Biden's one year of presidency, the Democrats and the Republicans came together in the US Capitol to support the Ukrainians when the President exhorted them in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to unite against the assault on the freedom and democracy of the east European country. He received a bipartisan standing ovation.

A President who has been harping on reconciliation with the Opposition Republicans amidst unprecedented violence and rivalries post-election, found the change in the mood of the lawmakers quite encouraging. He spoke of the emergence of a united Western alliance against the invading Russians from an earlier skepticism among the Europeans. He spoke of the success of the heavy sanctions in hobbling Russian economy and the need to check President Vladimir Putin's aggression from spilling over.

"Let each of us here tonight in this chamber, if you’re able to stand, stand and send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine and to the world," the President said. They did.

However, he said, “Let me be clear — our forces are not engaged and will not engage in the conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.” American troops were deployed to Europe not to fight in Ukraine, “but to defend our NATO allies in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west.” “For that purpose, we have mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, ship deployments to protect NATO countries including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia,” he added.

To concerned Americans he said, "I know news about what is happening can seem alarming to all Americans. What I want you to know, we're going to be okay. We're going to be okay."

Biden began his address by calling out the Russian President. "Six days ago, Russia's Vladimir Putin sought to shake the very 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 with a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined. He met the Ukrainian people."

"Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been," he said.

Biden 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 threats to America and the world keep rising.”

He turned to domestic issues like inflation and the fight against the pandemic. He talked of plans to address inflation by reinvesting in manufacturing capacity, speeding supply chains and help in childcare and eldercare. “Too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills. Inflation is robbing them of the gains they might otherwise feel. I get it. That’s why my top priority is getting prices under control,” Biden said.

Biden came to the House chamber without wearing a mask, in recognition of the receding covid pandemic and subsequent return of normal economic activities. Ukrainian ambassador Oksana Markarova was seen with first lady Jill Biden in the gallery. In a personal aside, Biden made a reference to his late son Beau, a veteran who died from brain cancer.

According to an AP poll, Biden's rating is currently down to 55% from an earlier 60% with the slump in economy following the pandemic. However, he was optimistic that more people have got jobs now than a year ago, a majority of Americans now vaccinated and the economy recovering fast. He said the administration is launching a “test to treat” initiative to provide free anti-viral pills at pharmacies to those who test covid positive.

Biden said, “I have come to report on the state of the Union. And my report is this: The state of the Union is strong, because you, the American people, are strong. We are stronger today than we were a year ago. And we will be stronger a year from now than we are today.” He spoke of last year's $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure investment and the massive social spending package. He said child tax credit proposals and lower child care costs will give relief to people in the midst of a price rise. He also listed plans to lower health care costs. He also referred to issues of voting rights and gun violence.

Presenting the Republican response, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said “Even before taking the oath of office, the President said that he wanted to make America respected around the world again, and to unite us here. He’s failed on both fronts.”

Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat behind the President during his speech.

Kamala Harris briefly told reporters at the Capitol, "We stand with Ukraine."

A CNN poll after the speech found most viewers had a positive response.

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