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Anti-Russia & Anti-Progressive: Biden Praises NATO, Counters Democrats in State of the Union Address

© REUTERS / Saul LoebU.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S, March 1, 2022
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S, March 1, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.03.2022
Amid uncertainty regarding the ongoing situation in Ukraine, US President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address focused less on domestic unity and stalled legislation on key issues — like voting rights — and more on praising NATO allies and other strategic partners that have joined Washington in sanctioning Moscow and backing Kiev's forces.
Biden opened his address by recognising Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the US since February 2021. Audience members in the chamber gave the flag-bearing diplomat a standing ovation as she appeared to get emotional.
First Lady Dr Jill Biden invited Markarova to the exclusive national address. The diplomat previously served as Ukraine's finance minister.
While in Washington, DC, Markarova notably requested additional weapons and humanitarian aid for the country, noting that Kiev expects to run out of FIM-92 Stinger air defence missiles and FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles.

President Putin, Oligarchs, and the Kremlin

Claiming that Russian military movements were "premeditated and unprovoked", the US president argued that Putin and the Kremlin "rejected" attempts at diplomacy, assuming the West and NATO would not react.
Tank stands at the settlement of Stanitsa Luganskaya. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
Kremlin: Russia Paused Military Op for Talks, but Ukraine Rejected Negotiations
On Saturday, the Kremlin noted that the Russian president had temporarily halted military forces operating in Ukraine on Friday due to expected negotiations between Moscow and Kiev. The pause lasted from Friday to Saturday afternoon, with the Ukrainian leadership failing to come to the table, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

"He thought he could divide us here at home", Biden proclaimed, loosely referring to claims of Moscow interfering in US elections.

Biden also announced that, beginning Wednesday night, Russian flights will no longer be permitted in American airspace. The move follows similar actions by the EU and Canada.
The logo of Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot is seen on an Airbus A320-200 in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, September 26, 2017 - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.03.2022
Biden: US Will Close American Airspace to All Russian Flights, Aircraft
The US Department of Defence has authorised as many as 700 National Guard personnel to assist with Metropolitan Police and Capitol Police affairs in an unarmed capacity.
Federal, state, and local authorities were notably working on a "security plan to prevent any disruption to the important work of Congress" in the days leading up to the national address, per Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger.


Biden's public health messaging may have sounded eerily familiar to the pandemic-era arguments of small-government conservatives and pro-Trump Republicans who opposed government overreach and federal mandates intended to mitigate the spread of the contagious disease.
"We've reached a new moment in the fight against COVID-19", he said, noting that the disease should not be a partisan dividing line.
He went on to declare that children "need" to get back into public classrooms, despite US officials having yet to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for that particular age group.
Furthermore, the push for in-person learning alongside a novel contagious disease that lacks longitudinal evidence could result in long-term respiratory health effects for children.
In addition to the anticipated naming of the US Department of Justice's chief prosecutor for pandemic-related fraud claims, the US president touted to a maskless crowd that Americans can finally unite after "COVID-19 kept us apart".

Voting Rights & 'Defund the Police'

After lauding American allies for rallying against Russia, the US president appeared to then turn his sights to progressive members of his own Democratic Party, which controls both of Congress' legislative chambers.
Since the police killing of George Floyd on 25 May 2020, many protesters organising against police brutality and the misdirection of community funds have rallied behind the so-called "Defund the Police" movement, which, in most cases, refers to the idea of redirecting a portion of exorbitant police budgets to local community-based solutions that function without armed individuals.
While Biden and his administration are aware of the actual meaning behind the polarising protest slogan, he flat-out rejected the notion, and instead called for additional police funding.

"We should all agree the answer is not to defund the police", Biden claimed. "It's to fund the police".

"Let's come together and protect our communities, restore trust, and hold law enforcement accountable", Biden said, arguing that the decision is not about choosing "between safety and equal justice".

He did note that the American Rescue Plan includes $350 billion that "cities, states, and counties can use to hire more police and invest in more proven strategy".
Meanwhile, the voting rights bill intended to expand access to the ballot box and make US elections both inclusive and safer was only briefly mentioned, despite the topic being a major issue ahead of a competitive midterm election season.
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