Since assuming the presidency of the Russian Federation in 1999, Vladimir Putin has deliberately worked towards an invasion of Ukraine. Over the past two decades, Putin has built up the Russian military, tested his boundaries with the West and repeatedly provoked Ukraine.
In 2014, following the pro-democracy and pro-European Maidan Revolution in Ukraine, Russia invaded and occupied the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with almost no resistance. The diplomatic backlash from the West, including the United States, Canada, the European Union and NATO was swift. However, the actual repercussions were small and mostly symbolic. Since 2014, Putin has continued to cause chaos in Ukraine through his support for Russian separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Despite years of warnings that Russia could invade Ukraine, the West still wasn’t ready.
As the Russo-Ukrainian War continues to rage on, it has become clear that Russia has suffered an immense failure. From the first week of the conflict, when Russia failed to seize Kiev and topple the Ukrainian government, its forces have continued to face setback after setback with continued ground loss and mounting casualties. Russia still holds a significant portion of Ukrainian territory and still poses a significant threat, but its pride and military capabilities have been shattered. Yet, who does Russia blame for this? It is not Ukraine, but rather NATO and the United States.
I originally had no intention of watching President Biden’s State of the Union Address. The only reason that I did was because I was assisting with the watch party hosted by the Eisenhower Institute. With recent events in Ukraine, I was optimistic for President Biden’s State of the Union Address, as he had an opportunity to give a unifying and career changing speech. The President began his address with that very issue, highlighting not only how it has brought us together as a nation, but also how it has strengthened relationships on an international scale. This reflected the patriotic and determined qualities that many people value and the United States; qualities that I have not seen in our society for quite some time.