Biden seeks to unify world leaders against Russian aggression in UNGA address

Moscow has 'struck at the very heart' of the UN Charter, White House says

President Joe Biden is expected to call on world leaders to be united in their opposition to Russia's war against Ukraine during his address at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. Bloomberg
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Follow the latest developments from the UN General Assembly.

Ukraine's counter-offensive against Russian aggression will be a core theme of US President Joe Biden's speech when he addresses world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

Mr Biden is expected to call on leaders attending the assembly to be united in their opposition to the Russian invasion, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday in a preview of the American leader's speech.

The White House claims Moscow's unprovoked assault violates Article 2 of the UN Charter, which states nations must not use force against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of another state.

“The main thrust of his presentation when it comes to Ukraine will really be about the United Nations, about the foundational principle at the heart of that charter that countries cannot conquer their neighbours by force,” Mr Sullivan said.

“He will speak to every country, those that have joined our broad-based coalition to support Ukraine and those who so far have stood on the sidelines, that now is a moment to stand behind the foundational principles of the charter.”

Russia's continued assault on its neighbour has “struck at the very heart” of the UN Charter, he added.

And while he will speak on reforming the UN Security Council, Mr Biden will not publicly advocate removing Russia as a permanent member of the panel, thus stripping Moscow of its veto power.

“That's among the things that President Biden is not … willing to raise tomorrow, although I think the world can see that when a permanent member acts in this way, it strikes at the heart of the Security Council,” Mr Sullivan said.

The situation in Ukraine is expected to provide a backdrop for Mr Biden's pitch that “democracy, not autocracy” is the best model through which world leaders can deliver for their citizens and tackle global challenges.

Ukraine has already played a prominent role in the world leaders' annual gathering in New York, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres blaming the war for the global food shortage and saying that geopolitical divisions are threatening the credibility of the Security Council.

“Much of the world’s attention remains focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Mr Guterres said.

“The war has unleashed widespread destruction with massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

Included in Mr Guterres's opening remarks were comments on the mass graves found in Izium, where Ukrainian authorities said they had uncovered more than 440 bodies. Mr Sullivan said the site in the north-eastern Ukrainian town is “worse than Bucha”.

Mr Biden is also expected to highlight efforts the US has led to address food insecurity, the climate crisis and how the US has “restored its global leadership and the integrity of its word”.

The president, who on Sunday declared that the Covid-19 “pandemic is over”, will also warn leaders that they must be more prepared to fight future global health crises by being more financially flexible and have the infrastructure to quickly develop and distribute vaccinations as well as testing equipment.

Updated: September 20, 2022, 8:37 PM