Joe Biden will use his first State of the Union address to pledge that Vladimir Putin must pay a price for invading Ukraine.
The US president will forcefully condemn Russia’s “premeditated and unprovoked” invasion of its democratic neighbor, and argue that the Russian president underestimated the response of the US and its allies.
“Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy,” Biden will say, according to excerpts released by the White House.
“He thought the West and Nato wouldn’t respond. And he thought he could divide us here at home. Putin was wrong. We were ready,” the US president plans to add.
The speech on Tuesday evening is traditionally a moment for the president to tout his achievements and build support at home.
But the war erupting in Europe has reshaped the prime-time address to reflect a “moment in time”, as White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said.
Biden will warn that: “When dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos.”
From the halls of the US Congress, now a reminder of the fragility of democracy at home following the insurrection by supporters of Donald Trump on 6 January 2021, Psaki said Biden would seek “to rally the world to stand up for democracy and against Russian aggression”.
At the same time he will lay out his administration’s effort to prevent the invasion and hold Putin accountable.
“Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson – when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos. They keep moving. And the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising,” Biden will say.
“That’s why the Nato alliance was created to secure peace and stability in Europe after world war two. The United States is a member along with 29 other nations,” he will add. “It matters. American diplomacy matters.”
Watching him speak in the chamber of the House of Representatives, from the first lady’s viewing box, will be Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, invited by Jill Biden to be her guest.
Between rehearsals and run-throughs of his address, traditionally one of the most widely viewed speeches a president makes, Biden spoke by phone to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Even as he addresses the crisis abroad, Biden will also focus on the domestic priorities that remain urgent concerns for most Americans: the economy and the prolonged coronavirus pandemic.
In a preview of his remarks, it was disclosed that Biden will outline a plan to counter rising inflation in the US, which has climbed to a four-decade high.
“We have a choice. One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation,” he will say.
“Make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America. More goods moving faster and cheaper in America. More jobs where you can earn a good living in America,” he will say. “And, instead of relying on foreign supply chains – let’s make it in America.”
Biden, a Democrat who was Barack Obama’s vice-president for two terms and chose Kamala Harris to be his vice-president, took office in January 2021, after beating Republican Trump at the polls the previous November.