Biden says Russia ‘blatantly violated’ UN principles in its invasion of Ukraine after Putin escalates conflict

Biden says Russia ‘blatantly violated’ UN principles in its invasion of Ukraine after Putin escalates conflict

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as having “blatantly violated” United Nations principles during a speech to the body on Wednesday, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to threaten to use weapons. nuclear weapons against Kyiv.

“Russia has blatantly violated the core principles of the UN Charter – no more important than the clear ban against countries taking the territory of their neighbors by force,” Biden told the United Nations General Assembly. “If nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences, then we jeopardize everything this institution stands for.”

In a roughly 30-minute speech, Biden said the war in Ukraine was about “extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state … and Ukraine’s right to exist as a people,” calling Putin for making “irresponsible nuclear threats.” ”.

“A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought,” Biden said in his speech.

Biden’s comments to nearly 200 world leaders gathered for the first in-person UN General Assembly since the outbreak of the pandemic came just hours after Putin delivered a speech announcing the partial deployment of military reservists, a significant escalation of his war in Ukraine. In the same speech, Putin appeared to threaten nuclear retaliation if Kyiv continues its efforts to regain occupied territory.

The meeting comes at a dangerous time on several fronts. Russia’s war in Ukraine has shaken global food supplies and threatens to plunge Europe into recession this winter as the continent braces for a spike in energy costs. The US is also facing rising tensions with China, which has shown signs of increasing aggression towards Taiwan. And climate change remains one of the most daunting international challenges.

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In his speech, Biden announced $2.9 billion in new US government assistance to combat “acute food insecurity” that he said was caused by war, Ukraine and climate change.

Biden again warned of a “global competition between democracy and autocracy” – an important theme of his presidency that he sought to defend on the world stage, even as he raised alarms about internal threats to America’s own democratic values.

Biden, who has repeatedly accused former President Donald Trump and his supporters of promoting an extremist ideology that threatens democracy, said on Wednesday that the US is “determined to defend and strengthen democracy at home and around the world.”

“I believe that democracy remains humanity’s greatest instrument for meeting the challenges of our time,” he said.

At a fundraiser in New York on Tuesday night, Biden warned donors about the “MAGA crowd” and said the US was at “an inflection point.” “You can’t claim to be a Democrat with a lowercase d if you engage in anti-government violence,” Biden told the crowd.

Biden enters the meeting on firmer ground than he did last year, when his speech came just weeks after the deadly and chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan caused global leaders to question America’s leading role in the world.

Now, US efforts to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia have shown significant signs of progress in recent days after Ukraine regained territory in the northeast Kharkiv province in what many observers said could be a decisive shift. as the war approaches its seventh month.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the group virtually on Wednesday. Putin said last month that he would not attend the meeting.

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In China, Biden faces a delicate balancing act as tensions have escalated in recent months. During an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, he said US forces would defend Taiwan if China invaded, a stance criticized by Beijing.

It is at least the fourth time since last year that Biden has made comments that appear to alter long-standing US policy on Taiwan, although White House officials said there was no change in policy.

“We seek to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and remain committed to our one-China policy, which has helped prevent conflict for four decades,” Biden said on Wednesday.

The US is required by law to supply defensive weapons to Taiwan, but has a policy of “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to exactly how it would respond to Chinese aggression on the island.

Chinese President Xi Jinping did not attend the UN meeting.

Biden arrived in New York on Tuesday, a day after returning to Washington, D.C. from London, where he joined other world leaders to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

While in New York, he will meet on Wednesday with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and new British Prime Minister Liz Truss. He will also speak at the Global Fund conference on the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and host a reception with other world leaders at the American Museum of Natural History.

Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner and Carol E. Lee contributed.

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