U.S. President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address to reassert America’s role as a global leader, seeking to mark a departure from the isolationism of his predecessor and promoting his effort to unify America’s allies and punish a resurgent Russian autocrat who he claims poses an existential threat to the international order.
“American diplomacy matters,” Biden told a joint session of Congress in his first official State of the Union, announcing U.S. plans to close American airspace to Russian flights. “Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has forced Biden to recalibrate his priorities on the fly, elevating the importance of foreign policy for an administration that was assiduously seeking to notch successes on the domestic policy front, where its climate change and infrastructure initiatives have faced resistance from within his own party. He also finds himself shoring up European defenses, deploying American air, ground, and sea forces in the region to protect NATO countries and Russia’s Baltic neighbors, including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, at a time when he had expected to focus on managing China’s rise.