President Joe Biden on Tuesday issued a strong appeal to the world to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling on leaders to remain steadfast in their support for President Volodymyr Zelensky and his nation as the war approaches its second autumn.
Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin and his forces are betting that the world will grow tired of supporting Ukraine and that it is up to the countries of the United Nations to stand firm against Putin’s aggression.
“If we allow Ukraine to be divided, is the independence of any country safe? I respectfully suggest that the answer is no. We must confront this naked aggression today and deter other potential aggressors tomorrow,” Biden said.
“That is why the United States, together with our allies and partners around the world, will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity, and their freedom,” he added.
The annual UN talks are taking place for a second year in the shadow of the war in Ukraine, and the conflict will remain a focus for leaders. Although the UN took the lead in organizing humanitarian aid during the conflict, it did not act as a mediator in the war. Biden will meet Zelensky — who was in the audience for Biden’s speech on Tuesday — in Washington later this week.
“For the second year in a row, this meeting – dedicated to the peaceful resolution of conflicts – is darkened by the shadow of war. An illegal war of conquest waged without provocation against neighboring Ukraine,” Biden said.
He added: “Russia alone bears responsibility 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.”
Biden also returned to an issue he often addresses in his public remarks: the future of democracy around the world. The president has often described the basic motivating issue of his presidency as democracy versus autocracy. And a day after the president railed against his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, in a heightened 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 meet the challenges we face around the world. We are working to show how democracy can deliver results in ways that matter for people’s lives,” he said, pointing to global infrastructure partnerships and investments in low- and middle-income countries.
The president often uses China as an example of that contrast. But at the UN he tried to emphasize a more diplomatic tone on America’s relationship with China, saying he wants competition, not conflict.
“I want to be clear and consistent: we try to manage competition between our countries responsibly so that it does not end up in conflict. I said we are for reducing risks, not for decoupling from China,” he said, warning that the US will “reduce aggression.”
Biden says the future of the US is tied to that of other countries
This year, the countries of the ‘Global South’ are also demanding the attention of leaders. Many have watched with skepticism as the West gathers attention and funding for Ukraine while their crises go unnoticed.
Biden will meet on Wednesday with Brazilian President Lula da Silva to discuss labor issues, and with 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 a vision for a more stable, prosperous and integrated region, and will compare notes on effective countering conflicts. and deterring Iran.”
But the absence of high-level engagement from Russia, China, France and Britain – all permanent members of the UN Security Council – will relegate the Biden administration to lower-level contacts with key allies and adversaries, in the hope of United States to a higher level. States’ views on global infrastructure, food security, democratic values and territorial sovereignty.
Biden reiterated his belief that the world is at a “turning point in history,” telling the gathering: “As President of the United States, I understand the obligation my country has to lead this critical moment.”
Biden praised 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 pledge outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement, though he called for additional investments in public and private sector.
As the US seeks to counter the authoritarian pull of Russia and China, Biden will join the presidents of five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – for the ‘first so-called C5+1 Presidential Summit ever’. On Tuesday, the first senior official to discuss regional security, trade and connectivity, climate and reforms to improve governance and the rule of law.
“The United States strives to create a safer, more prosperous, and more just world for all people because we know our future is tied to yours. … And no country can meet today’s challenges alone,” Biden said on Tuesday.
Questions about the effectiveness of the UN
A major challenge to the Biden administration’s ability to generate attention and headlines for its foreign policy goals: forum fatigue, with the G20 meeting of world leaders, the BRIC summit of developing countries, the APEC meeting focused on Indo-Pacific policy, and the climate-focused The COP28 talks are all taking place in an unusually compact calendar, taking some of the urgency away from the New York talks.
“There has always been a feeling that if you can’t get what you want from the UN, you should go somewhere else,” said Marti Flacks, director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Council on Strategic and International Studies. “There are more led by American competitors, especially China. And so there is a feeling that they are growing in strength.”
Still, Biden emphasized the body’s importance in meeting new challenges.
“We also recognize that to meet the new challenges of our decades-old institutions and approaches, they must be updated to keep pace with the world. We need to bring in more leadership and capabilities that are present everywhere, especially from regions that have not always been fully included. … We need to make sure we deliver to people everywhere. … That starts at the United Nations – starts here,” he said.
There are areas where the government recognizes that progress will remain elusive. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said he is not optimistic that U.N. leadership and partner countries can make progress in restoring the Black Sea grains initiative, despite U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres holding meetings on the matter this week with Zelensky and other partners in New York.
“We know that the Turks are working hard on this; Guterres is working hard on this,” Sullivan told reporters. “But the Russians don’t give us much reason for optimism at the moment.”
The issue raises the broader question of the UN’s effectiveness, with Russia remaining a member of the United Nations Security Council despite multiple demands from the council to end the war in Ukraine. Thomas-Greenfield said the US is working closely with the Ukrainians to document war crimes and atrocities for “future prosecution” – but it remains unclear when such a tribunal will 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, “holds both enormous potential and enormous danger.” offers.
“We must be able to break the gridlock that too often hinders progress and blocks council consensus. We need more voices, more perspectives at the table. The United Nations must continue to preserve peace, prevent conflict and alleviate human suffering. And we embrace countries that are doing their best to find new ways to make new breakthroughs on difficult issues,” he added.
For more CNN news and newsletters, create an account at CNN.com