Biden condemns Russia as a threat to the world in UN speech

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President Biden used his first speech at the United Nations since the invasion of Ukraine to accuse a man, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, of wanting to “wipe” another country off the map and try to take the world back. dragging into an era of nuclear confrontation.

Hours after Putin mobilized reservists for Ukraine and issued new threats to deploy Russia’s nuclear arsenal, Mr Biden drew a stark contrast between Russia and the West, describing growing competition with China as it pursues its own authoritarian vision.

“Let’s speak clearly,” Mr Biden said as he opened his speech to the General Assembly, accusing Mr Putin of violating the UN charter. “A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has invaded his neighbor.”

The war, Biden added, is about “extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state”.

“If nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequence,” Biden continued, the post-World War II order is crumbling. “We will stand in solidarity against the Russian aggression.”

The magnitude and destructive nature of Mr Biden’s attacks on Mr Putin were startling; they seemed to be the most direct and sustained focus on a single adversary of a US president at the United Nations since 2002, when President George W. Bush called the Iraqi administration of Saddam Hussein a “serious and growing danger.”

Mr Biden told leaders that “we are not seeking a Cold War” or asking other countries to choose between the United States and “other partners”.

Yet the world he described had echoes of the Cold War era. Biden cast the United States and its allies as the guardians of a fragile world order that has existed since World War II, while seeking to reassert US leadership on existential issues such as global warming and faltering food supplies. And he portrayed Russia as the main threat to world peace, described the Russian leader’s warnings just hours earlier as “irresponsible nuclear threats” and warned him to press ahead.

“A nuclear war cannot be won,” Mr Biden said, “and should never be fought.”

That phrase, used by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev in 1985, was echoed by all the major nuclear powers in a joint statement on Jan. 3, just seven weeks before Mr Putin’s invasion may have become the biggest concern over nuclear weapons use since. the Cuban Missile Crisis 60 years ago.

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Mr Biden’s speech, on the second day of the UN’s annual meeting of world leaders, came at a time of extraordinary danger and unrest, from food shortages to record heat, floods, drought, pandemic and inflation. In many of those arenas, the UN seemed powerless or paralyzed, in part because Russia, as a member of the Security Council, can veto resolutions condemning its actions. Mr Biden seized the moment to call for UN reforms, although few seem imminent.

As the war raged in Ukraine, the conflict dominated the annual meeting of world leaders, though China’s Putin and Xi Jinping both skipped the event. The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed the General Assembly in a pre-recorded video, recorded from Ukraine and in English.

“A crime has been committed against Ukraine and we demand a just punishment,” said Mr Zelensky, describing the death and destruction that “Russia caused with its illegal war.”

This is the determination of the world,” said Mr. Zelensky, “to unite around the one who fights against armed aggression.”

Just a few weeks ago, when Ukrainian troops conquered territory in the northeast of Ukraine and little by little in the south, some world leaders thought that Mr Putin would pull out and declared that he had achieved his goals.

Instead, hours before the leaders came to the General Assembly podium, he doubled down, called for a mobilization of 300,000 Russian reservists and made it clear that he had no intention of giving up on his quest to establish Ukraine as an independent country. to eliminate.

News of Mr Putin’s combative speech came in through the cell phones of leaders and diplomats as they made their way through the closed-off streets of Manhattan’s East Side. Many were struck by the bluntness of his nuclear threat, which he said was “not a bluff.” Others described it as rooted in despair as Mr Putin tries to recover from humiliating retreats.

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview on Wednesday that Mr Putin’s comments reflected how badly he miscalculated in invading Ukraine.

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“He has been misled, he has underestimated the situation and he is desperate,” said Mr. Scholz.

The Allies largely stayed together.

European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell vowed new sanctions against Moscow, though the menu of available options is dwindling, rather than a complete ban on global transactions from what was the world’s 11th largest economy by 2021. Mr Borrell said he would convene an extraordinary meeting of European foreign ministers in New York to discuss developments.

“Putin says he’s ready to use whatever weapons are at his disposal and when someone says ‘everything,’ he explicitly means nuclear weapons,” Borrell said. “This is something that the international community cannot accept. The United Nations should respond this week.”

Mr Biden also criticized the governments of Iran and China for their human rights record.

He said the United States stood behind “the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran, who are now demonstrating to secure their basic rights” – a reference to the protests that have erupted in Iran over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini , a 22-year-old woman who was arrested last week by the country’s vice squad, allegedly for violating a dress code.

And as talks stalled over the reinstatement of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that former President Donald J. Trump left, Mr. Biden implicitly threatened to use force if necessary to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but he said that he wanted to avoid conflict.

“We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Biden said, adding: “I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this result.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made his General Assembly debut, emphasizing that his country was a paragon of justice and human rights.

Mr Raisi’s comments, in a lengthy speech that mixed religious sermons and political rhetoric, did not mention the widespread anti-government protests that had led to a crackdown by the authorities, nor the death of the young woman who had been the cause.

Several heads of state spoke of the increasing toll of climate change on impoverished people around the world, including cyclones in Madagascar, drought in the Horn of Africa and floods in Pakistan.

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Mr Biden spoke of the $370 billion in new spending and tax incentives intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which he signed last month as evidence of US leadership in the fight against climate change. And he announced $2.9 billion in new spending from the United States to address global food insecurity, exacerbated by both the war in Ukraine and climate change.

But leaders from Africa and elsewhere used their speeches to push rich countries to do more and faster to stem global temperature rise.

“The youth of Africa, the entire continent, are waiting for polluting countries to deliver on their promises,” Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina told the meeting.

Mr Biden acknowledged that debt at the start of a Wednesday afternoon meeting with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, telling Mr Guterres that “great polluting nations of the world like ours have an obligation to the who are suffering the effects of global warming.”

Mr Biden met with the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, on Wednesday and discussed the war and a trade dispute arising from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which Mr Biden has warned is a long-standing jeopardize the existing peace agreement in Northern Ireland. The president also met with President Emmanuel Marcon of France and made comments to the Global Fund on the global fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The speech of Mr. Zelensky aired shortly after Mr. Biden finished at the Global Fund, bringing the focus of the day back to Mr. Putin and the damage inflicted by the invasion of Ukraine returned.

Mr Zelensky called on the United Nations to hold Russia to account by creating a special tribunal and said Russia should be stripped of its veto power in the UN Security Council.

“Russia should pay for this war,” he said, “with its assets.”

The post Biden condemns Russia as a threat to the world in UN speech appeared first on New York Times.

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