The Main Narrative Will Be Confrontation with Russia*

*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

Joe Biden’s State of the Union address at the Capitol generated the largest influx of donations so far to his campaign fund, according to Axios, citing a member of the White House campaign headquarters. But Axios’ source didn’t say exactly how much money the speech raised. Biden delivered his annual State of the Union address on March 7 but, , as the media reported, this time the American leader focused on foreign policy unlike prior State of the Union speeches. The Republicans called the address an election campaign speech; newspapers reported that the president managed to change voter opinion about him and that his passionate presentation managed to shake off the “sleepy Joe” internet meme. Kommersant’s columnist Mikhail Gurevich listened to the speech by the leader of the White House and came to interesting conclusions.

Usually, the president’s State of the Union address to Congress has two parts. First, the president speaks about domestic problems and only then mentions foreign policy challenges. This time everything was different. Not only was the sequence of topics a surprise, but so was Biden’s demeanor. The unexpectedly flexible and even aggressive leader reacted aggressively to shouts from the audience, making jokes and commenting ironically to the heckling.

Commentators called the address one of the most political in U.S. history. Biden did not hold back on accusations leveled at Russia, terrorists and especially Republicans. He accused the Republican Party of undermining important initiatives and recalled the events of January three years ago, when pro-rump protesters broke into the Capitol building.

By the way, Biden never mentioned Donald Trump by name during the hour-long address. The former president, who is also his current campaign rival, appeared as his “predecessor,” who had never done a good thing in the past but could inflict a great deal of harm if Americans once again put their trust in old ideas. “My fellow Americans, the issue facing our nation isn’t how old we are; it’s how old are our ideas. Hate, anger, revenge, retribution are the oldest of ideas,” Biden said.

Although the speech contained more than enough angry notes, Biden defied tradition and began his remarks not with the state of the union, but with the situation in Europe and Ukraine. Biden compared himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who formulated the four main U.S. values in his address to Congress in January 1941: freedom of speech and of worship, as well as freedom from want and from fear. Biden said these values are once more threatened today, so Americans need to bolster NATO and support Kyiv. Concluding that part of his speech, the American leader directly addressed the Russian president, saying, “We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down.”

As Biden concluded, we could safely assume that his message will form the foundation of the Democratic election campaign.

So it turns out that the main narrative will be the confrontation with Russia and support for Ukraine. In turn, the Democrats will charge the Republicans with mutinying against the democratic system, along with a host of domestic policy challenges, including women’s right to abortion, employment issues, the battle against inflation, the environment, social welfare health care, equal rights for transgender people, and, finally, the problem of immigration, including the reinforcements of the southern border with Mexico. And only afterward — supporting peace in the Middle East and the economic struggle against China.

It’s hard to say how such an agenda will satisfy Americans, since the Republicans, led by Trump, will also be fighting for their votes. The former president, naturally, was absent from the Capitol, but you could easily understand his reaction if you watched the face of House Speaker Mike Johnson. Johnson sat with Vice President Kamala Harris behind Biden, quite plainly grimacing throughout the speech. He rolled his eyes, pursed his lips, and looked bored with the Democrats, who regularly rose to applaud and shout “Four more years!”

Johnson and his boss obviously have different plans for the next four years.

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About Artem Belov 83 Articles
Artem Belov is a TESOL-certified English teacher and a freelance translator (Russian>English and English>Russian) based in Australia but currently traveling abroad. He is working on a number of projects, including game localization. You can reach him at

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