WASHINGTON: U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday praised the staunch Western coalition against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as airstrikes hit a densely populated area in the center of the U.S. ally’s second city, adding to the civilian casualty toll in the week-long war.
Despite sanctions and warnings of a humanitarian crisis, the new attack on a residential area in Kharkiv comes as the U.S. leader prepares to strengthen the American public’s resolve for future turmoil.
Biden had planned to tout his policy successes in his annual State of the Union address, discussing how the U.S. has turned the corner from the pandemic and outlining what he hopes to achieve in the coming months.
But much of it was upended by one of the most significant crises in the geopolitical landscape since the end of the Cold War, when Russia ordered tens of thousands of troops to be sent to Ukraine.
“Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked,” Biden said in prepared remarks ahead of his annual speech on the sixth day of the Russian invasion.
“He rejects diplomatic efforts. He doesn’t think the West and NATO will respond. Also, he thinks he can divide us at home. Putin is wrong. We are ready.”
Earlier, Biden had a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who accused Moscow of “state terrorism” and tweeted: “We must stop the aggressor as soon as possible.”
While Russia denies targeting civilian infrastructure, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the bombing of Kharkiv “absolutely disgusting”, reminiscent of the massacre of civilians in Sarajevo in the 1990s.
Eight people were reported dead in a residential building in the city, and officials said 10 were killed in the Russian shelling of a local government building.
The strike on Kyiv’s main TV tower also killed five people and disrupted some state radio stations, Ukrainian officials said, but the buildings were intact.