The speech was part of what seems to be a very deliberate policy of this administration to think out loud about the crisis, consistently briefing its worse fears, even if it means aggravating its allies in Kyiv. The logic seems to be: we don’t know for sure what Putin will do, but we do know he likes to control the narrative, and spring the surprises. So why not create an environment of worst-case predictions, in which the only way the Russian leader can surprise the west is to opt for peace.
Biden’s concluding declaration – “If we do not stand for freedom where it is at risk today, we’ll surely pay a steeper price tomorrow” – is likely to be greeted with grim mirth in Kyiv, in the wake of the US embassy’s evacuation and the retreat of American diplomats to the western end of the country. But the US has kept up arms supplies, and is reportedly making arrangements to keep the weapons flowing to an Ukrainian insurgency if it comes to that.
This administration is well aware that it has been portrayed as weak for the manner in which it left Afghanistan.
But Biden had long ago lost faith in the US mission there, whereas he believes wholeheartedly in Nato. He used the word “sacrosanct” to describe America’s obligation to its allies.
One of the beauties of the Internet is the ease with which one can search for articles which contain terms like “Biden Afghanistan sacrosanct”.