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Who Is Part of the Free World?

The Ukraine War has brought a resurgence in Western leaders' use of a very twentieth-century phrase. But what exactly is the free world today, and is support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia a fair litmus test for determining who is part of it?

WASHINGTON, DC – In his 2022 State of the Union address, US President Joe Biden accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of seeking “to shake the very foundations of the free world” with his invasion of Ukraine six days earlier. Putin believed that his “premeditated and totally unprovoked” attack on Ukraine would be met with little resistance. But, Biden proclaimed, “the free world is holding him accountable.”

When Biden delivers his next State of the Union address on February 7, he will most likely tout all the ways the “free world” has continued to support Ukraine – and punish Putin – over the last year. NATO countries and their partners around the world have delivered massive amounts of weapons and other supplies to Ukrainian fighters, while absorbing millions of Ukrainian refugees. Those same countries have upheld – and even ratcheted up – sanctions on Russia, while finding ways to support those scrambling to wean themselves off of Russian energy.

Biden’s pride in his administration’s response to Russia’s aggression – a response that will soon include the delivery of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine – is justified. His determination to reinvigorate alliances and partnerships and cooperate closely on all major decisions is particularly impressive.