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Putin will pay ‘over the long run’ for Ukraine invasion: Biden

WASHINGTON (CNA) – United States (US) President Joe Biden on Tuesday vowed that Russia’s Vladimir Putin will pay over the long run even if he makes gains on the battlefield in Ukraine.

“While he may make gains on the battlefield – he will pay a continuing high price over the long run,” Biden said in his State of the Union address.

“He has no idea what’s coming,” the US president said.

He spoke to Congress on the sixth day of Russia’s invasion of its European neighbour and as Kyiv stared down a miles-long armoured Russian column potentially preparing to take over the Ukrainian capital.

“A Russian dictator, invading a foreign country, has costs around the world,” Biden told Congress.

But “in the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace”.

US President Joe Biden gestures, applauded by US Vice President Kamala Harris and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as he delivers his first State of the Union address. PHOTO: AFP

In the prime time speech, Biden announced a new step banning Russian flights from using
American airspace.

He also signalled steps to hobble Russia’s military in the future, even as he acknowledged it could see more gains in the coming hours. “We are choking off Russia’s access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come,” he said. “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,” he said.

Just hours before his address before the joint session of Congress, Biden held a more than 30-minute phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss further US help in arming Ukraine’s military.

Zelenskyy, who is sheltering in Kyiv from Russian artillery strikes, pleaded to “stop the aggressor as soon as possible”. Symbolising Washington’s pledge to do just that, First Lady Jill Biden was hosting Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova in her VIP box for the speech.

Biden, 79, already faces a mountain of political challenges on the home front.

One year into his presidency, the Democrat’s approval ratings are stuck at around 40 per cent and Republicans – many still in thrall to Donald Trump – are forecast to seize control of the legislature in the November midterm elections. Despite a strong economy, the highest inflation in four decades has badly soured the national mood.


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