President Joe Biden announced that the American air space will be closed to all Russian flights.
Delivering State of the Union Address at the Capitol Tuesday night, Biden said he took this decision to further isolate Russia and put an additional squeeze on their economy.
Russia’s economy is reeling under pressure due to repercussions of punitive actions taken by the West over Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Western allies imposed tough sanctions on Russia and blocked some Russian banks from a global payments system.
The Ruble has lost 30 percent of its value. The Russian stock market has nosedived and trading remains suspended.
Biden made it clear that U.S. forces will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.
“Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO Allies – in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west,” he told the Congress.
For that purpose, the Pentagon has mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, and ship deployments to protect NATO countries including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
Biden announced release of 30 million barrels of oil from its own Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help blunt domestic gas prices. This is part of a commitment made at an emergency meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries Tuesday in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In a meeting chaired by U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, the United States and 30 other member countries, supported by the European Commission, agreed to collectively release an initial 60 million barrels of oil from strategic petroleum reserves to address significant market and supply disruptions.
“We will continue advancing ongoing efforts to accelerate Europe’s diversification of energy supplies away from Russia and to secure the world from Putin’s attempts to weaponize energy supplies,” Granholm said in a statement after the meeting.
“And we stand ready to do more if necessary, unified with our allies,” Biden said.
“When the history of this era is written Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger,” he told lawmakers.
Biden’s speech, witnessed by Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova, at times evoked bipartisan applause and cheer for Ukraine, with many of the Congress members waving Ukrainian flags.
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