Ukraine, impeachment, workers’ strike and more: Biden’s balance at the UN

President Joe Biden will offer another defense of democracy this week at the annual United Nations General Assembly, the last such global gathering before the U.S. election period — but already at risk of being overshadowed by messy domestic politics .

Biden will again try to rally the world behind Ukraine, but the urgent calls for Kiev will be just as aimed at home, where he faces a looming funding fight with House Republicans.

As he meets with world leaders, the president will also grapple with the potentially serious economic consequences of the United Auto Workers strike, as well as the continuing fallout from the indictment of his son, Hunter , and a congressional impeachment inquiry. His reelection bid will also be a priority — and this campaign will likely pit him against someone who has challenged American democracy that Biden will try to introduce to the world during his four days in New York.

“He will outline to the world the steps he and his administration have taken to promote a vision of American leadership based on the principle of working with others to solve the world’s most pressing problems,” said Jake Sullivan, head of national security. advisor, previewing Biden’s speech Tuesday.

Sullivan argued that the administration sees “a strong signal of demand for more American engagement, for more American investment” as well as for more American presence “on all continents and in all regions of the world.”

Foreign policy rarely moves votes, and Biden will likely be consumed this week with questions about the looming government shutdown as well as the investigation into his son. Yet the White House has leaned on Biden’s image as a global statesman, using it as proof of his leadership – and to emphasize the revitalization of coalitions damaged by his predecessor, Donald Trump – as well than its vitality. Biden’s secret trip to Kiev earlier this year was turned into a recent campaign ad designed as a subtle rebuke to critics who think the 80-year-old president is too frail to get the job done.

“The White House is particularly good at finding ‘commander in chief’ moments to break through, even in a fractured media environment,” said Jennifer Palmieri, White House communications director under former President Barack Obama. “The trip to Kiev is the best reaction they have against his age, while the trips to Europe and Asia and now to the United Nations establish him again as the true leader of the free world.”

Biden is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the meeting on Wednesday, denying the right-wing leader the White House visit he wanted following a judicial reform Biden has denounced as undemocratic. Many in the White House are wary of Netanyahu’s leadership, although they could use the Turtle Bay meetings to push for a normalization of relations between longtime foes Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who did not attend the G20 two weeks ago, is not expected to visit New York. Russian President Vladimir Putin will also not be present, although Russia retains its seat on the UN Security Council and will exert influence over the proceedings. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will make an appearance, mainly to urge leaders meeting in New York to stay in kyiv.

Zelensky will then travel to Washington to make his case again on Thursday at the White House and Capitol Hill. White House aides have long noted that American public support for Ukraine tends to increase after Zelensky’s deal and the plan for the president to try to capitalize on the visit. The timing proved ideal, the West Wing believes, at the start of a battle with Republicans who have called for slashing money sent to the war zone. House Republicans, Sunday evening,introduced a government funding billwithout including aid to Ukraine.

Biden’s speech Tuesday at the United Nations will be, in part, a pledge to continue supporting Ukraine, his advisers said, and the hope is that his remarks – combined with Zelensky’s appearances – will put pressure on Republicans to finance the war.

Trump, the prohibitive favorite to become the GOP presidential nominee, questioned the need to support Ukraine and repeated his desire to quickly negotiate a peace deal with Russia. Officials on both sides of the Atlantic say Putin is trying to wait out the next U.S. election, believing his fortunes in the war could change if a Republican were in command from the Oval Office.

Congress has already approved $113 billion in aid to Ukraine, including about $70 billion for security assistance; more than 90 percent of this amount has already been spent or allocated. The White House’s latest request includes $13.1 billion for military aid to Ukraine and replenishment of the Pentagon’s weapons supplies used for the war effort. Some on the right have pushed to significantly reduce that amount, one of the possible triggers for a possible government shutdown.

With the UN meeting taking place so soon after the G20 summit in India, leaders of four of the five countries that hold permanent seats on the UN Security Council are expected to skip the annual event. Their absence could have a welcome side effect for Biden: It could boost his administration’s efforts to improve America’s image among less powerful countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia that view the United Nations as a vital forum. It could also help distance these countries from China and Russia. But Biden risks pushback from some in the West because he disdains globalization and downplays human rights, while trying to build allied coalitions to solve important and specific problems.

There will also be calls for global responses to the massive disasters underway in Morocco and Libya, as well as special attention to climate change.

In New York, Biden will also hold a meeting with the U.N. secretary-general, attend a labor event with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and host world leaders for a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And once again mixing in the needs of domestic politics, he will participate in several campaign fundraisers.

Alexander Ward, Nahal Toosi and Eli Stokols contributed to this report.


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