BIDEN CONDEMNS RUSSIA’S UKRAINE INVASION IN STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS: President Biden strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in his State of the Union address last night (March 1st) that was otherwise focused on domestic issues, including taming inflation and coming out of the pandemic to more normalcy. Biden began by speaking about what he called Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s “unprovoked and unjustified” invasion of Ukraine, saying that Putin had, quote, “miscalculated” in thinking he could just roll over the neighboring country, but met with the resistance of the Ukrainian people and the unity of the U.S. and Western nations in helping Ukraine miltarily and economically and enacting crippling sanctions against Russia. The president further announced that the U.S. is banning Russian planes from its airspace, as Canada and the European Union have already done.
As he moved on to domestic issues, Biden spoke about plans to address inflation, which he called his “top priority,” including by having more manufacturing done in America and speeding up supply chains. He addressed the Covid crisis, saying we’re moving back to, quote, “more normal routines,” and vowing to be ready for any potential future variants with tests, masks and pills like Pfizer’s new medication. Biden announced a new plan, under which people can be tested at pharmacies for Covid, and then immediately be given the medication then and there for free if they’re positive. He also said people would be able to order another round of free tests.
- Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, was with First Lady Jill Biden in the House gallery for the speech.
[“I’ve come to report on the state of the nation, the state of the union. And my report is this — the state of the union a strong because you, the American people, are strong.”] SOUNDCUE (:12 OC . . . people, are strong.”)
[“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 the world would roll over. Instead, he met with a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.”] SOUNDCUE (:26 OC . . . the Ukrainian people.”)
[“I know news about what’s happening can seem alarming to all Americans. What I want you to know, we are going to be okay. We are going to be okay. When the history of this era as written, Putin’s war in Ukraine will have left Russia weaker, and the rest of the world stronger.”] SOUNDCUE (:16 OC . . . the world stronger.)
[“With all the bright spots in our economy, record job growth, higher wages, too many families are struggling to keep up with their bills. Inflation is robbing them of gains they thought otherwise they would be able to feel. I get it. That’s why my top priority is getting prices under control.”] SOUNDCUE (:20 OC . . . prices under control.)
[“Over the past, we’ve gotten much better at detecting new variants. If necessary, we’ll be able to develop new vaccines within 100 days, instead of maybe months or years. And if Congress provides the funds we need, we’ll have new stockpiles of tests, masks, pills ready if needed. I can’t promise a new variant won’t come, but I can promise you we’ll do everything within our power to be ready if it does.”] SOUNDCUE (:25 OC . . . if it does.)
REPUBLICAN RESPONSE: The Republican response was delivered by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who spent much of her remarks attacking Biden and the Democrats on issues including foreign policy, inflation, Covid policies, crime, and more.
[“Weakness on the world stage has a cost, and the president’s approach to foreign policy has consistently been too little too late. It’s time for America to once again project confidence. It’s time to be decisive. It’s time to lead.”] SOUNDCUE (:18 OC . . . time to lead.)
[“The president and Democrats in Congress have spent the last year are either ignoring the issues facing Americans or making them worse. They were warned that spending trillions would lead to soaring inflation. They were told that their anti-energy policies would send gas prices to new heights. But they plowed ahead anyway.”] SOUNDCUE (:21 OC . . . plowed ahead anyway.)
RUSSIA INCREASES ATTACKS ON URBAN AREAS: Russia increased its attacks on urban areas in Ukraine Tuesday (March 1st), as a 40-mile military convoy continued its slow advance towards the capital of Kyiv. After a missile attack on the central square in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and the bombing of a TV tower in the capital, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, declared, “Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget,” what he described as a campaign of terror. The missile attack on the TV tower also damaged the nearby Babi Yar Holocaust memorial at the site where Nazis killed more than 33,000 Jews over two days in 1941. Britian’s Defense Ministry said there had been an increase in air and artillery strikes on populated urban areas over the past two days, and that three cities, including Kharkiv, were encircled by Russian forces.
Zelenskyy Speaks to European Parliament
President Zelenskyy delivered a speech remotely to the European Parliament yesterday (March 1st), as part of his call for Ukraine to be granted immediate membership in the European Union. Zelenskyy stressed that his country was, quote, “fighting for its survival,” saying, “The European Union is going to be much stronger with us. We have proven our strength . . . Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go.” He declared, “Nobody is gonna break us.”
Meanwhile, more than 100 United Nations diplomats from 40 countries walked out when Russia’s foreign minister began to speak via video linnk at the Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday, among them diplomats from the U.S., the European Union and the U.K. The foreign minister said in his remarks that Russia’s military actions were to, quote, “demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine.”
Russian Radio Station Critical of Kremlim Taken Off Air
Echo Moskvy, one of Russia’s oldest radio stations, was taken off the air yesterday because of its critical coverage of the invasion. Russian authorities also threatened to block Russia’s top independent TV channel, Dozhd. Both media outlets were accused of spreading content that incites extremist activities, as well as, quote, “false information regarding the actions of Russian military personnel as part of a special operation” in Ukraine. Soon after the invasion, Russian officials threatened independent media in Russia with being shut down if their coverage didn’t follow the official line, including the invasion not being allowed to be called that or a “war,” but instead a “special military operation.”
SUPREME COURT NOMINEE JACKSON TO MEET WITH SENATE LEADERS TODAY: President Biden‘s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, will begin the traditional meetings with senators today (March 2nd), starting with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, and Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Durbin said Monday that the Senate hearings on Jackson’s nomination are expected in mid-March, and senators are reportedly eyeing a mid-April confirmation vote.
LAWSUIT BY TEXAS PARENTS OF TRANSGENDER TEEN SAY STATE INVESTIGATING THEM: The parents of a transgender 16-year-old girl in Texas filed a lawsuit Tuesday (March 1st) saying that the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is investigating them after Republican Governor Greg Abbott last month ordered officials to probe reports of gender-confirming medical care for minors as child abuse. The suit filed on the parents’ behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal is asking a judge to block the investigation of them and of other parents of transgender children under the directive. The lawsuit doesn’t name the parents, but said the mother works at DFPS. She had asked her supervisor how Abbott’s order would affect the agency’s policy, according to the lawsuit. The mother was then put on leave because she has a transgender daughter, the suit says, and the next day was told her family would be investigated.