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Russia trying to wipe out Ukraine culture, identity, Biden tells Naval Academy grads

By Rich Klein
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Russia trying to wipe out Ukraine culture, identity, Biden tells Naval Academy grads
The last Naval Academy graduate speaks with President Joe Biden during the U.S. Naval Academy Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland on Friday, May 27, 2022. President Joe Biden spoke during the ceremony. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI. | License Photo

May 27 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden warned Friday that Russia President Vladimir Putin not only is trying to take over Ukraine, but also wipe out the culture and identity of the Ukrainian people.

During a commencement address to graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Biden raised his voice when he said that Russia was "attacking schools, nurseries, hospitals, museums, with no other purpose than to eliminate a culture ... a direct assault on the fundamental tenets of rules-based international order. "

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"That's what you are graduating into," he told the 2022 graduating class of some 1,100 midshipmen.

"You're graduating at an inflection point, not only in American history but in world history," Biden said. "The challenges we face, the choices we make, are more consequential than ever.

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"Things are changing so rapidly that the next 10 years will be the decisive decade of this century. It's going to shape what the world looks like and the values that will guide it, not for just the immediate future but for generations to come. And that is not hyperbole. "

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Biden said that Putin's "brutal, brutal war" has strengthened the NATO alliance, and he reminded the graduates they often will stand "shoulder to shoulder" with America's allies and partners on their missions.

He also told the graduates that part of their mission will be to "ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea" and "to defend the international rules of the road. These long standing basic maritime principles are the bedrock of the global economy and global stability. "

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The speech came at a time when the United States just signed off on sending some $40 billion in military aid to Ukraine.

It also came at a time when the United States is sending increased military aid to help Ukraine following Russia's invasion three months ago.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the House Appropriations Sub-committee that the 2023 defense budget includes funds to modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, a 4.6% military personnel pay raise and nine more "battle-force ships."

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Biden also will deliver the commencement address at the University of Delaware on Saturday.

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the Navy's commencement address a year ago. In that speech, she discussed pivotal moments in history that impacted America's "standing in the world."

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