Updated May 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden at West Point: "I'm determined" to keep U.S. soldiers out of war in Ukraine

President Biden with West Point cadets

President Biden at the 2024 graduation ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on May 25, 2024. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden assured onlookers at a commencement speech on Saturday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that the country "will not walk away" from Ukraine during the Israel-Hamas war. He also reinforced limits to American support.

Why it matters: Biden used the speech to further distinguish himself from 2024 Republican presidential candidate and former President Trump, who delivered the commencement speech at the academy in 2020.

  • Though the president didn't mention Trump by name, he emphasized values Democrats have painted as under threat by another Trump term such as freedom and equal rights. Biden's speech focused mostly on praising the work of the U.S. military.

What he's saying: "There are no American soldiers at war in Ukraine," Biden said. "I'm determined to keep it that way."

  • The president noted "historic investments" in the U.S. military and what he dubbed his willingness to use force when necessary.
  • He mentioned his late son Beau's service and recognized American soldiers for both supporting Ukraine against Russian assault and providing aid in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas war.

This was Biden's third time serving as West Point's commencement speaker, per the New York Times.

The bottom line: It was an opportunity for the president to offset criticism not only of U.S. support in Ukraine but of the country's handling of the war in Gaza and related student protests on college campuses.

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