Biden’s address shows U.S. resolve to protect free world amid Ukraine crisis

The United States, known as the protector of the free world, has shown its firm determination not to tolerate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nor the destruction of the international order. Japan, Europe and other democratic countries must strengthen their solidarity with the United States.

U.S. President Joe Biden has delivered his State of the Union address. It is usually an opportunity for U.S. presidents to explain to the American public their past policy achievements and their policy direction for the year. In the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, however, it was the scene for Biden to present the U.S. position on the issue to the world.

In the address, Biden praised the courage of “the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom” and emphasized the U.S. stance to provide support to them. He also reiterated his intention to impose sanctions on Russia and make Russian President Vladimir Putin pay a severe price.

It is significant that the U.S. leader, who spearheads the democratic camp, sent a firm message at a time when the Russian military continues its brutal attacks on Ukrainian cities.

In recent weeks, the Biden administration had warned the international community of an imminent Russian invasion, while also revealing classified military intelligence. Through close consultations with U.S. allies and friendly nations, his administration also has been promoting military assistance to Ukraine and the establishment of sanctions against Russia.

As the result, it would be a big miscalculation for Putin as, despite the overwhelming military superiority of Russian forces, the momentum has been dampened by the resistance from Ukrainian forces, and the Russian economy has been hit by sanctions.

Few nations aside from countries such as China have shown an understanding of Putin’s excuse of protecting Russia’s security. “We shared with the world in advance what we knew Putin was planning and precisely how he would try to falsely justify his aggression,” Biden said in the address.

It is noteworthy that the Biden administration has made meticulous preparations for and responses to the issue. On the other hand, it is undeniable that Putin has taken advantage of Biden’s naivete about Russia.

Biden has positioned China as his biggest competitor and has pursued a security strategy that focuses military and other resources in the Indo-Pacific region. He had hoped to establish a stable relationship with Russia through direct dialogue with Putin, but his efforts look to have failed.

In addition to the confusion caused by the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan last summer, Putin may have viewed Biden’s series of moves as signs of U.S. weakness and have taken this as an opportune time to expand Russia’s sphere of influence in Europe.

It is difficult for the United States alone to be prepared to deal with China and Russia. Biden’s fragile domestic base and slumping approval rating will also be constraints toward restoring U.S. prestige. U.S. allies, including Japan and European nations, need to step up their defense efforts and work with the United States to stabilize the international order.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on March 3, 2022.