President Biden says he feared that if the United States had not stepped up to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s military invasion, there would have been “chaos” in Europe — and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war would have continued westward.
In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, Biden defended his decision to assist Ukraine despite knowing it would trigger higher gas prices at home — which is one of the reasons his job disapproval rating is at an all-time high.
“There was going to be a price to pay for it,” he said. “This is not going to be cost-free.” But he added that “the option of doing nothing was worse.”
“I’m the president of the United States,” Biden said. “It’s not about my political survival. It’s about what’s best for the country. No kidding. So what happens? What happens if the strongest power, NATO, an organizational structure we put together, walked away from Russian aggression of over 100,000 troops marching across a border to try to — to occupy and wipe out a culture of an entire people? What then? Then what happens? What happens next?
“I fear what would happen next is you’d see chaos in Europe,” he continued. “You would see the possibility they continue to move.”
Biden pointed out that one of Putin’s stated goals in launching his military invasion was that he did not want Ukraine joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.
“He wanted the sort of the Finland-ization of NATO,” he said. “He got the NATO-ization of Finland, instead.
“I’ve been doing this too long to do anything other than to try to do what was right,” Biden added. “I’ve done foreign policy my whole career. I’m convinced that if we let Russia roll and Putin roll, he wouldn’t stop.”
The president’s comments come on the heels of his announcement that the United States will send an additional $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing war, now in its fourth month.
They also come amid his sinking approval rating. According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, 56% of Americans now disapprove of Biden’s performance — the highest share to date — while just 39% approve. (Three weeks ago, those numbers were 53% and 42%, respectively.)
The survey found that 61% of voters disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy (up from 58% last month), and Republicans now hold a 15-point advantage among voters on the question of which party would do a better job handling the economy, up from 11 points last month.