NEW YORK, Sept 19 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden appealed to world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to stand by Ukraine against Russian invaders, hoping Republicans in Congress will take notice.
“Russia believes the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence,” Biden said in his speech to the UN General Assembly. “If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation safe?”
Biden drew applause when he said the United States and its allies would stand behind Ukraine’s fight for freedom. “Only Russia is responsible for this war,” the president said. “Russia alone has the power to end this war immediately.”
Biden’s speech at the annual gathering was the centerpiece of his three-day visit to New York, which will include meetings with the heads of five Central Asian nations and the leaders of Israel and Brazil.
Biden, a Democrat, has made rallying US allies in support of Ukraine a major component of US foreign policy, arguing that the world must send a clear signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the West will not be able to survive.
Biden has faced criticism from some Republicans who want the United States to spend less money on the war effort.
Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has vowed to seek a swift end to the war if he returns to power.
Trump has expressed skepticism about Washington’s engagement with traditional allies, including NATO, and praises Putin.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a leading Republican in Washington, has questioned whether the United States should continue sending billions of dollars in arms to Ukraine.
In his speech, Biden said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the occupation of the territory violated the founding Charter of the United Nations, the main principle of which is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
His remarks echoed those of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said in his opening address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that the Russian invasion had “unleashed the nexus of terror”.
A Biden administration official said Biden and US officials will also focus on mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development and combating climate change at the UN meetings.
A solid majority of Americans support providing weapons to Ukraine to defend against Russia and believe such aid shows China and other US rivals a will to protect US and allied interests, according to a June Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, who attended and applauded Biden’s remarks before his own address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, was scheduled to visit Biden at the White House on Thursday and also meet with some congressional officials.
The United States is preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine at the time of Zelensky’s visit, and Congress has been asked to approve billions of dollars more in security aid for the rest of the year.
“We believe it will have bipartisan support. I think President Zelensky does too,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
After his speech, Biden was scheduled to sit down with Guterres to discuss the world’s hot spots.
Later, for the first time, he will attend a summit with the presidents of five Central Asian countries. They are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
On Wednesday, Biden will meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and join him at an event with labor leaders from Brazil and the United States.
On Wednesday, Biden will also have his first face-to-face meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Netanyahu regained power last December.
Sullivan said they would discuss “a vision for a more stable, prosperous and integrated region, as well as comparing notes on effectively countering and deterring Iran.”
Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting from Jeff Mason and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons, Grant McCool and Howard Goller
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.