President Joe Biden on Tuesday strongly urged the world to stand up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, urging leaders to stand firm in their support for President Volodymyr Zelensky and his nation as the war heads into its second fall.
Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin and his armed forces are betting the world will tire of supporting Ukraine, and it is the duty of countries in the United Nations to stand firm against Putin’s aggression.
“If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation safe? I respectfully suggest the answer is no. We must confront this bare-bones aggression today and deter other potential aggressors tomorrow,” Biden said.
“That’s why the United States, along with our allies and partners around the world, will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and their freedom,” he added.
The annual UN talks are taking place in the shadows for the second year war in Ukraineand conflict will remain the focus of leaders’ attention. While the UN led the organization of humanitarian aid during the conflict, it did not act as a mediator in the war. Biden is scheduled to meet with Zelensky — who was in the audience for Biden’s speech Tuesday — in Washington later this week.
“For the second year in a row, this gathering – dedicated to the peaceful resolution of conflicts – has been overshadowed by the shadow of war. An illegal war of conquest waged without provocation against neighboring Ukraine,” Biden said.
He added: “Only Russia is responsible for this war. Only Russia has the power to end this war immediately. And it is only Russia that stands in the way of peace.”
Later on Tuesday, in remarks at a reception for United Nations leaders at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, he told other world leaders: “Our world is at an inflection point, and the decisions we make now will determine our future for decades. come.”
The president referred to Russia when he noted that the world stands ready when “fundamental principles such as sovereignty, territorial integrity, universal human rights are tested” and “a member of the UN Security Council launched a brazen and brutal attack. against the people of Ukraine – attacks that go against the very character of the United Nations.
During his speech at the General Assembly, Biden also returned to a topic he often turns to in his public remarks – the future of democracy in the world. The president often posed the basic motivational question of his presidency as democracy vs. autocracy. And a day after the president lashed out at his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, in a scathing speech at a fundraiser warning that Trump was “determined to destroy democracy,” Biden emphasized the importance of democratic institutions.
“We will defend democracy: our best tool to address the challenges we face around the world. We are working to show how democracy can work in ways that matter to people’s lives,” he said, pointing to global infrastructure partnerships and investment in low- and middle-income countries.
The president often uses China as an example of this contrast. At the UN, however, he sought to strike a more diplomatic tone regarding US relations with China, saying he wanted competition, not conflict.
“I want to be clear and consistent: We try to responsibly manage the competition between our countries so that it does not come into conflict. I said we are for de-risking, not for separating from China,” he said, warning that the US would “push for aggression”.
This year, the nations of the “Global South” also require the attention of leaders. Many have watched with skepticism as the West gathers attention and funding for Ukraine while their own crises go unnoticed.
Biden will meet Wednesday with Brazilian President Lula da Silva to discuss labor issues and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Biden has clashed over the country’s controversial judicial reform plan.
Biden and Netanyahu, the senior official said, “will discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues focused on the shared democratic values between our two countries and the vision for a more stable, prosperous and integrated region, as well as compare notes on effectively countering and deterring Iran.”
But with the high-level absence of Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom — all permanent members of the UN Security Council — the Biden administration will be relegated to lower-level negotiations with key allies and adversaries, all in the hope of elevating the United States. States’ views on global infrastructure, food security, democratic values and territorial sovereignty.
Reiterating his belief that the world is at a “tipping point in history,” Biden told the gathering, “As president of the United States, I understand my country’s responsibility to lead this critical moment.
Biden touted his administration’s efforts to combat the climate crisis, including investments in clean energy, climate finance in developing countries and steps toward the climate finance commitment outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement, even as he called for more public and private investment.
As the US struggles to counter the authoritarian push of Russia and China, Biden is joining the presidents of five Central Asian nations — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — for the “first-ever so-called C5+1 presidential summit.” ” said the first senior official on Tuesday to discuss regional security, trade and connectivity, climate and reforms to improve governance and the rule of law.
“The United States strives for a safer, more prosperous, and more just world for all people because we know that our future is tied to yours. … And no nation can face the challenges of today alone,” Biden said Tuesday.
A big challenge to the Biden administration’s ability to garner attention and headlines for its foreign policy goals: forum fatigue with G20 world leaders meeting, BRIC summit, APEC gathering focused on Indo-Pacific policy and climate All COP28 conversation is taking place on an unusually tight calendar , which takes some of the urgency out of the conversation going on in New York.
“There’s always been a feeling that if you can’t get what you want from the UN, you go somewhere else,” said Marti Flacks, director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Council on Strategic and International Studies. “A larger number of them are led by competitors from the US, especially China. And so there is a feeling that he is getting stronger.”
Still, Biden emphasized the importance of the body in meeting new challenges.
“We also recognize that to meet the new challenges of our decades-old institutions and approaches, they need to be updated to keep pace with the world. We need to bring in more leadership and capabilities that exist everywhere, especially from regions that have not always been fully included. … We have to make sure we deliver to people everywhere. … That starts with the United Nations — it starts right here,” he said.
There are areas where the administration acknowledges that progress will remain elusive. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said he was not optimistic UN leadership and partner countries could move forward on renewing the Black Sea Grain Initiative, despite UN Secretary-General António Guterres meeting with Zelensky and other partners in New York about it this week.
“We know the Turks are working hard on this; Guterres is working hard on this,” Sullivan told reporters. “But the Russians don’t give us much cause for optimism at the moment.”
The issue raises the broader question of the UN’s effectiveness, with Russia remaining a member of the UN Security Council, despite the council’s numerous demands for an end to the war in Ukraine. Thomas-Greenfield said the US was working closely with the Ukrainians to document war crimes and atrocities for “future prosecutions” – but it remained unclear when such a tribunal would take place.
In addition to strengthening institutions, Biden called on the UN to “forge new partnerships and take on new challenges in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence,” which he said offer “enormous potential as well as enormous danger.”
“We must be able to break the deadlock that too often holds back progress and blocks consensus in the Council. We need more voices, more perspectives at the table. The United Nations must continue to maintain peace, prevent conflict and alleviate human suffering. And we welcome the nations that are stepping up to lead new ways to seek new breakthroughs on tough issues,” he added.