Ukraine’s president told world leaders at a UN event in New York that they must “act united to defeat the aggressor.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on world leaders to show unity in the face of Russia’s continued “aggression” in Ukraine, telling the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that Moscow is “weaponizing” food and energy.
Speaking from UN headquarters in New York for the first time since the conflict began last year, Zelenskyy on Tuesday described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an existential threat to the world order, comparable to nuclear weapons.
“We must act united to defeat the aggressor and concentrate all our capabilities and energy to meet these challenges,” he said in English. “It takes our unity to ensure that such an attack does not happen again.”
Zelensky criticized Moscow for what he sees as an “attempt to weaponize (a) food shortage on (the) world market in exchange for recognition of some, if not all, of the captured territories.”
He also accused Russia of committing genocide by kidnapping Ukrainian children and said kyiv was working to prepare a global peace summit.
The war in Ukraine featured prominently on the first day of the UN’s high-level general debate, with several world leaders pledging continued support for Kiev at the most-watched event on the UN’s annual calendar. ‘UN.
The United States and its allies have provided billions of dollars in humanitarian and security aid to Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.
On Tuesday morning at the United Nations General Assembly, US President Joe Biden – who will meet with Zelenskyy later this week at the White House – told other leaders that “Russia thinks the world will tire and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequences.
“If we allow Ukraine to be divided, is the independence of a nation assured? Biden asked during his speech at the UNGA, drawing applause when he said the United States and its allies would stand with Ukraine in its fight.
“Russia bears sole responsibility for this war,” he said. “Only Russia has the power to end this war immediately. »
Biden’s speech at the annual gathering was the central event of his three-day visit to New York, which will include meetings with the heads of five Central Asian countries and the leaders of Israel and Brazil.
The Democratic president has made rallying U.S. allies to support Ukraine a major part of his administration’s foreign policy, despite criticism from some Republican lawmakers over the scale and cost of that aid to Kiev.
More than 140 heads of state and government ministers are participating in the 78th session of the UNGA this week, which provides an opportunity for countries to present issues of particular concern in a series of live public speeches.
In-person attendance has gradually returned since the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced leaders three years ago to send pre-recorded video messages for safety reasons. The UN is made up of 193 member states.
Zelensky is also expected to speak at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine on Wednesday, which could put him at the same table as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The Ukrainian leader will then travel to Washington, DC, on Thursday to meet with Biden. He will also visit the U.S. Capitol, where lawmakers must pass a federal spending bill through Sept. 30 that will include additional aid to his war-torn country.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters last week that he believed Zelensky “looked forward” to visiting congressional leaders “to make the case” for continued US support for the ‘Ukraine.
Separately, in an interview with the Reuters news agency on the sidelines of the UNGA, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that Ukraine urgently needs air defense, including munitions and spare parts.
Stoltenberg said the conflict was a “war of attrition” but not a stalemate, given the progress Ukraine had made with a counter-offensive launched in June to try to reclaim territory occupied by Russian forces.
“If we want to end the war, if we want a just and lasting peace, then military support for Ukraine is the right path,” the NATO chief said. “Ukraine needs many types of support. »