U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about Russia's attack on Ukraine in Washington

Unity between NATO and the West is key tool against Putin, Biden to stress in State of the Union

In his first State of the Union address, President Joe Biden will stress the importance of unity between NATO and the West in how it handles Russian sanctions and the continued invasion of Ukraine.

In a lunch with journalists hours before his address, Biden said unity is “the one thing that gives us power to impose severe consequences on Putin for what he’s done,” and which will make him think twice as the fallout “continues to bite.”

Biden faces a nation divided in its view of his first year in office, including how he’s handled the coronavirus pandemic and an economy with growing inflation, despite gains in wages and a drop in unemployment. In a poll last week from the PBS NewsHour-NPR and Marist, 55 percent of Americans said that they disapprove of the job he’s doing as president, and 67 percent think the country is going in the wrong direction.

As the war has escalated in Ukraine, he’s also faced questions about what growing sanctions could do to energy prices for Americans across the country, many of whom are already feeling the strain of supply chain issues and rising prices on basic goods.


The PBS NewsHour’s Nicole Ellis talked with congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins about the State of the Union tradition,what this moment means for Biden, specific challenges he’s faced and what voters are feeling.

In Biden’s worst marks on the economy so far, 58 percent said they disapprove of his leadership in that area. When people were asked what the president’s top priority should be, inflation was the top pick. And yet Americans were also fairly optimistic about their personal finances — 36 percent said they expect their personal situation to improve, while 41 said it would probably stay the same.

Both Biden and White House press secretary Jen Psaki have said in recent days they are seeking steps that will help “mitigate the impact of President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on the global economy and the American people.”

Aside from a focus on his domestic agenda, Biden will also take the opportunity to point to the country’s role as a “leader in the world,” Psaki said Monday during a news briefing. “He will talk about the steps we’ve taken to not only support the Ukrainian people with military and economic assistance but also the steps he’s taken to build a global [coalition] imposing crippling financial sanctions on President Putin, his inner circle, and the Russian economy.

The PBS NewsHour will have special coverage of the State of the Union and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine starting with the 6 p.m. broadcast. Correspondents and a panel of experts will offer analysis during and after the president’s speech until 11 p.m. ET. Watch here.