There will be plenty to break down from President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address today, but one of the key items was his declaration that the United States will finally close down its airspace to Russian planes as soon as today. Since Canada was among the first to do this (though Russia violated the order almost immediately), that means that nearly the entire North American continent will be off-limits to Russian planes. Aeroflot is quickly running out of routes where it will be able to ferry people around to the few nations that will still allow Russian planes to land on their soil. This decision should significantly ramp up the ongoing economic warfare against Vladimir Putin since it will not just impact the ability of people to travel, but also all of the goods and commerce that are transported by air on a daily basis. The real question Joe Biden needs to answer is, what took you so long?
President Joe Biden announced Tuesday during his State of the Union address that the U.S. would close its skies to Russian aircraft while promising more pain to Russia and its cadre of oligarchs as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine.
The president opened his remarks with a focus on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the efforts undertaken by the U.S. and allies to penalize Russian President Vladimir Putin — and other members of the country’s elite — for the ongoing assault.
“Tonight I am announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights — further isolating Russia — and adding an additional squeeze on their economy,” Biden said.
As already noted, pretty much all of Europe made this move days ago, as did our neighbors to the north. Let’s stop and think about that for a moment. In the face of potential backlash from the largest nuclear power on the planet, Canada came out more quickly and aggressively than the United States did.
This is the epitome of “leading from behind.” It’s similar to the way that Biden continues to refuse to cut off Russia’s flow of oil sales to America while our European allies are all sucking it up and doing so in an effort to “starve the beast.” (And Biden also continues to refuse to jumpstart American oil and gas production to make up for it.)
I’m not implying that Joe Biden is somehow afraid of angering Russia by boxing off Putin’s oil sales. We’ve already angered the Russian president plenty. No, what Biden is terrified of is doing anything that will send gas and heating oil prices even higher with the midterm elections approaching and his party’s approval ratings looking increasingly like the skunk at the garden party. But I’m fairly sure that most voters know we were dealing with the Bidenflation crisis long before Russia moved on Ukraine.
Even on the issue of shipping weapons and supplies to the Ukrainians, the United States has been more passive than many of our allies. In an unexpected twist, Boris Johnson has been more aggressively arming the Ukrainian people than we are. Joe Biden has showered plenty of praise on President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people, but when it comes to concrete actions designed to help them fight off the Russian forces, we’re still lagging behind. The Europeans aren’t waiting to see what America does first during this crisis. They’re jumping out there on their own and leaving us to catch up.
Meanwhile, Putin’s words and actions seem to be increasingly erratic. I’ll leave you with this Twitter thread from Tim McMillan, who argues that Putin clearly left Russia’s entire PSYOPs apparatus in the dark about his plans for Ukraine, and now they are scrambling to catch up and form some sort of coherent narrative explaining Russia’s actions. It’s an unenviable task for them, to be sure.
It’s increasingly clear that Putin left Russia’s entire PSYOPS apparatus totally in the dark about his intentions to invade Ukraine.
Right now, Kremlin propagandist are struggling to reframe the war. Particularly, since the lead-up messaging was this was all the West fault, pic.twitter.com/XcoHKXVn65
— Tim McMillan (@LtTimMcMillan) March 2, 2022
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