“Putin claims he had to act because Russia was threatened, but no one threatened Russia and no one but Russia sought conflict,” Biden said in his speech.
In his 20-minute speech, Putin warned that he would use “every means at our disposal” if he deemed Russia’s “territorial integrity” to be endangered. The mobilization means the possibility of calling up citizens who are in reserve and subjecting those with military experience to compulsory conscription, Putin said, adding that the necessary decree had already been signed and entered into force on Wednesday.
In response, Biden said that Putin is waging a war aimed at destroying the Ukrainian nation.
“This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a nation, plain and simple, and Ukraine’s right to exist as a people. Wherever you are, whatever you believe in, it must make your blood cool,” Biden said.
He warned that the foundation of the UN Charter was “under attack” amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, which he described as a “shameful” violation of the organization’s founding document.
“As we meet today, the foundation of the United Nations Charter for a stable, just and rules-based order is under attack by those who wish to demolish it or distort it in their political interest,” Biden said during remarks before the United Nations General Assembly. In a veiled reference to Russia, she noted that the 1945 Charter was negotiated by citizens “unified in their commitment to work for peace.”
He called on the foundation to “become more inclusive” in order to “better respond to the needs of today’s world,” and told the group that the United States supports an increase in the number of permanent and non-permanent representatives to the United Nations Security Council.
Putin’s escalation followed stunning Russian setbacks in the more than six-month war. Biden, who has led efforts to isolate Russia and provide Ukraine with advanced weapons, was planning to emphasize those efforts in a speech Wednesday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also plans to address the United Nations on Wednesday.
After delivering his first speech at the United Nations last year under the cloud of a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and stalled domestic ambitions, Biden aides believe he is entering sophomores with a stronger hand.
“We think the president is heading to New York with the wind behind him,” Sullivan told reporters at the White House on Tuesday, citing a mostly united Western alliance and recent victories on the domestic front, including a historic investment in the fight against the climate. they change.
Questions about American leadership
However, even as Biden announces a renewed American leadership, deeper questions remain about his ability to maintain that position in the coming years, as fears of a global recession loom and threats to American democracy loom.
Biden has spent a great deal of time emphasizing those threats in recent weeks, primarily to a domestic audience but also listening to foreign capital with interest. He recounted in his recent speeches sitting around a table at last year’s G7 summit in Cornwall, England, telling fellow leaders that “America is back.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, Biden, told the audience, asking him: “For how long?”
One of the issues currently taking center stage in world affairs – the painful negotiations to resume the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from – only underscores the effects of pendulum swings in US leadership.
For Biden, the annual United Nations address was another stab at explaining to the world how he brought the United States back into a leadership position after the “America First” years of Donald Trump.
He called for the expansion of the United Nations Security Council, saying that countries should refrain from using the veto, except in rare cases.
Biden said in his speech that “the United States supports an increase in the number of permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council.”
He said the continued use of vetoes by council member states was detrimental to its effectiveness, and said that vetoing only in “rare and unusual situations” would ensure the council remained “credible and effective.” Russia has consistently vetoed Security Council resolutions that have impeded action on Ukraine and other regions.
In his speech, Biden also announced $2.9 billion in US aid to help tackle global food insecurity. The White House said in a fact sheet that the $2.9 billion investment is aimed at shoring up food supplies amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, widespread inflation and other supply chain issues, and builds on the $6.9 billion the United States has already committed this year.
It includes $2 billion in global humanitarian aid through the United States Agency for International Development, the United States Agency for International Development.
Later Wednesday morning, Biden will host a pledging session for the Global Fund to Fight HIV, AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In the evening, Biden and the first lady will host a leaders’ reception at the American Museum of Natural History.
A letter crafted over weeks
US officials cautioned that Ukraine’s current gains do not necessarily indicate a broader change in expectations for the war, which is still likely to be a protracted conflict. A day before Biden’s speech, two Russian-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine announced plans to hold referendums on formal accession to Russia, voices the United States had previously warned would be “sham”.
Among Biden’s goals in his Wednesday speech was to stress the importance of maintaining unity among Western allies in supporting Ukraine in the uncertain months ahead.
Compounding the effort is a looming energy crisis, with Russia withholding natural gas supplies from Europe as winter approaches. And the high costs generated in part by surmounting Western sanctions on Moscow led to an economic disaster that caused political turmoil for many leaders in the Biden coalition, including himself.
The president will meet with one of those leaders, British Prime Minister Liz Truss, later Wednesday. It will be their first formal in-person talks since Truss took office earlier this month after her predecessor Boris Johnson’s decision to step down.
It has inherited a deep economic crisis, fueled by rising inflation and rising energy costs, which has led to fears that the UK may soon enter a prolonged recession. While few in the Biden administration shed tears over Johnson’s resignation – Biden once described him as a “physical and emotional clone” of Trump – the US and UK have been deeply allied in their approach to Russia under his leadership.
White House officials expect cooperation to continue under Truss’ leadership, even as she is under pressure to ease economic pressures at home.
What is less certain, however, is whether Truss’s hard-line approach to Brexit will hurt relations with Biden. The president has taken a personal interest in the special issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a post-Brexit arrangement that requires additional checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The rules were made to keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland open and to avoid a resurgence of sectarian violence. But Truss moved to rewrite those rules, causing deep concern in both Brussels and Washington.
Biden predicted China’s warning
Putin will not attend this year’s General Assembly, although his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in New York for the event. Nor does Chinese President Xi Jinping plan to attend the United Nations in person this year.
The two authoritarian leaders, who met face to face last week, have worked to deepen ties between their countries as relations with the West deteriorate. Biden warned Xi about supporting Putin in his invasion of Ukraine, a topic he is expected to repeat in Wednesday’s speech.
The absence of Putin and Xi underlines the limits of places like the United Nations to solve the world’s most serious problems. With permanent seats on the UN Security Council, Russia has resisted approving resolutions on Syria and Ukraine, resulting in inaction.
Security Council reform efforts have taken on even greater strength under the Biden administration, although the prospects for breaking the deadlock in the Security Council appear slim. Biden aides are still studying how he will speak specifically about the United States’ desire for Security Council reform during his visit to the United Nations this week, but he is expected to announce his views at least in private with other leaders.
“We are committed to finding a way forward to make the United Nations fit for purpose for this century. Right now, there is an attack on the UN system. There is an attack on the Charter. And that is by a permanent member of the Security Council,” said Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas. Greenfield on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I can’t change the fact that Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, but I can continue the efforts we’ve been successful in, and that isolates them, condemns them, and makes sure they know and understand that it’s not business as usual,” she told Jake Tapper.
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.