- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin “badly miscalculated” by invading Ukraine and now faces unprecedented global isolation and Western unity, President Biden said Tuesday night, vowing that Moscow will suffer for years to come.

In his first State of the Union address, Mr. Biden said the U.S. will close its airspace to Russian flights and the Department of Justice will launch a new task force to crack down on wealthy Russian oligarchs in Mr. Putin‘s inner circle. 

The president vowed to continue punishing Russia for its incursion into Ukraine, but he stressed that regardless of how the battle plays out, the Kremlin’s plan will fail.

“Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways. But he badly miscalculated,” the president said. “He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead, he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.

Putin has unleashed violence and chaos. But while he may make gains on the battlefield, he will pay a continuing high price over the long run,” Mr. Biden said. “And a proud Ukrainian people, who have known 30 years of independence, have repeatedly shown that they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.”

Russia’s invasion has slowed in recent days amid reports of low morale and supply shortages. 

But Russian forces have stepped up bombing campaigns on key cities such as Kharkiv and the capital, Kyiv. The Ukrainian military has fought back valiantly and so far has held off the much larger Russian army.

But Ukraine has appealed for more help from the U.S. and Europe. Mr. Biden again reiterated that U.S. troops will not directly aid Ukraine.

“Let me be clear, our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine,” he said.

The president said the U.S. will redouble its efforts to punish the Russian economy and its billionaire class. 

He specifically said the Justice Department will go after oligarchs’ assets in a move targeting influential figures around Mr. Putin.

“We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” Mr. Biden said.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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