President Biden has a message for members of Congress: the US response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be in coordination with US allies.
Why it matters: Biden used the first part of his appearance before House Democrats on the last day of their retreat in Philadelphia Friday to defend his decisions on Russia – and the timing and scope of his actions.
What he’s saying: “Literally I spend hours and hours and hours and hours keeping our alliance together. You, NATO, our allies – including our Asian allies,” Biden said.
- The president acknowledged that Congress wanted to revoke Russia’s most favored nation trade status earlier, but defended his decision to consult key allies before moving ahead with such a decision.
- “But folks, I know I’m occasionally frustrated, but more important than moving when we want to is making sure all of NATO is together,” he added.
- “They have different vulnerabilities than we do. Just like in the oil embargo. […] Without Russian oil, they’re going to find themselves choked off in ways that far exceeds anything we do. So it took a long time sitting with my counterparts. “
- “I said look, we’re going to block oil, but I’m not going to ask you to do it […] You do what you can, and we’re going to help you get energy. “
The big picture: Over the past three weeks, Congress has largely been a step ahead of the Biden administration in terms of calling for punitive actions against Russia.
The bottom line: “I want to be clear though, we’re going to defend every inch of NATO territory,” Biden said leaning into the podium. “But we will not fight a Third World War.”
- “The idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and planes and tanks and trains with American pilots and American crews – don’t kid yourself, no matter what you all say – that’s called World War III. Ok?”